July 5, 2013

The difference between England's and Australia's top orders

Going into the Ashes, England's top four has a solid look to it. Australia's, on the other hand, has plenty to prove
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With less than a week to go for the Ashes to begin, Australia are still trying to figure out their best combination, with the batting, especially, causing plenty of concern. Since Darren Lehmann took over as coach, the opening combination has been firmed up, but there are plenty of contenders for the rest of the slots: Phil Hughes, Ed Cowan, David Warner, Usman Khawaja and Steven Smith all fighting for the two or three remaining spots (depending on whether Australia play four bowlers or five).

There used to be a time, not so long ago, when Australia's batting line-up was among the most settled, but all that has changed with the retirement of several stalwarts. England, on the other hand, have a more well-settled top order, though Joe Root's promotion to the top of the order is a fairly significant change. With Kevin Pietersen back and in form, the line-up of Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Pietersen and Bell looks quite formidable on paper. The difference between the two line-ups is also quite stark when comparing the stats at each batting position over the last 40 months.

Since the beginning of March 2010, England have a 22-9 win-loss record, compared to Australia's 16-13, and they've scored 40 runs per wicket compared to Australia's 34.15. As the table below shows, the difference in averages for the openers during this period is almost ten runs per wicket, which is fairly significant, but even that isn't much compared to the difference in stats for the No. 3 and No. 4 batsmen.

These two slots have a history of excellence associated with them, with Don Bradman, Ian and Greg Chappell, and Ricky Ponting scoring tons of runs from there, but currently Australia's cupboard looks rather bare. In these last 40 months, their No. 3 and No. 4 batsmen have both averaged less than 30, while England's have averaged more than 50. That's a huge gap, and potentially a huge worry for Australia. Adding up the difference in averages for the first four batsmen gives the grand sum of 67.41 runs (multiplying the openers' difference by two), which is a substantial difference that the rest of their batsmen need to make up.

Australia's big strength has been the No. 5 spot, where they've averaged more than 60, thanks largely to Michael Clarke, who has averaged almost 82 at that slot during this period, with some help from the now-retired Michael Hussey, who averaged nearly 50.

Australia's average at No. 6 is also a bit higher than England's, but that's due to Hussey, who scored 1184 at 51.47. He won't be around to help Australia during the Ashes. At No. 7, England have the clear advantage thanks to Matt Prior.

England and Australia's stats by batting positions in Tests since March 2010
Position Team Innings Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Openers England 138 5945 45.73 20/ 18
  Australia 130 4505 36.04 7/ 28
No.3 England 68 3329 53.69 9/ 15
  Australia 64 1712 27.61 1/ 12
No.4 England 64 3102 51.70 7/ 17
  Australia 62 1815 29.75 2/ 12
No.5 England 62 2011 35.28 7/ 8
  Australia 62 3753 64.70 13/ 10
No.6 England 61 1789 33.75 2/ 12
  Australia 62 2139 38.19 8/ 6
No.7 England 59 2066 43.95 4/ 14
  Australia 61 1708 34.16 2/ 12
Nos.8-11 England 191 2629 18.25 3/ 7
  Australia 212 2837 18.07 0/ 11

Coming back to the top four slots, Australia's big problem has been their inability to convert their starts into bigger scores. Their top four batsmen have gone past fifty 62 times in Tests during this period, but have converted only ten of those into centuries. England's top four, on the other hand, have scored 36 centuries out of the 86 times they've gone past 50. England's conversion rate: 42%; Australia's: 16%. For them to have a chance in the Ashes, Australia's batsmen will have to do much better than that.

The problem for Australia begins with the opening slot, where their batsmen have managed only seven centuries out of 35 scores of 50-plus. Shane Watson and Ed Cowan have been the chief culprits, with a combined record of two out of 16. England's star at the top of the order has been Cook, who has piled up hundreds at an amazing rate: 15 out of 22 scores of 50-plus have been centuries. Among the other seven innings are three scores in the 90s - 96, 94 and 94. Even Nick Compton, who otherwise has pretty ordinary numbers, has converted two of his three 50-plus scores into hundreds.

Openers from England and Australia in Tests since March 2010
Batsman Innings Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Alastair Cook 69 3728 58.25 15/ 7
Andrew Strauss 47 1579 34.32 3/ 9
David Warner 33 1240 40.00 3/ 7
Shane Watson 30 1046 36.06 1/ 8
Ed Cowan 29 963 33.20 1/ 6
Simon Katich 16 685 45.66 1/ 5
Phil Hughes 21 563 28.15 1/ 2
Nick Compton 17 479 31.93 2/ 1

Australia have decided on their opening combination for the first Ashes Test, but they haven't quite nailed their Nos. 3 and 4 yet, and those are two positions that have caused them plenty of grief in the last few years. As the table below shows, the three batsmen who have averaged more than 50 at these positions are all from England, with Trott and Pietersen being the dominant ones.

Australia's leading scorers at these positions all have poor averages. Ponting has scored 1515 runs, but he was clearly not at his best during this period: it took him 46 innings to score those runs, which means his average was only 34.43. Like most of the other Australian batsmen, his conversion rate was poor too, with only two hundreds to go with 11 fifties.

The other Australian batsmen, though, have fared even worse than him. Clarke has been outstanding at No. 5, but 24 innings at higher slots - all except one of those at No. 4 - have fetched only 544 runs at a poor average of 22.66. He has never gone past 80 in those 24 innings. Watson's returns aren't impressive either - 423 runs in 15 innings at 28.20. Hughes, Marsh and Khawaja are the others who have tried their hand at these positions but without too much success.

Come Wednesday at Trent Bridge, Australia will want much more from their top four. How they go against England's top-class pace attack could well determine which way the series goes. For a start, Australia will be hoping that Chris Rogers' presence at the top of the line-up makes a difference.

England and Australian batsmen at Nos. 3 and 4 in Tests since March 2010
Batsman Innings Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Jonathan Trott 62 3015 53.83 8/ 14
Kevin Pietersen 51 2595 55.21 6/ 14
Ricky Ponting 46 1515 34.43 2/ 11
Ian Bell 11 652 59.27 2/ 2
Michael Clarke 24 544 22.66 0/ 4
Shane Watson 15 423 28.20 0/ 3
Phil Hughes 13 380 29.23 0/ 3
Shaun Marsh 10 301 30.10 1/ 1
Usman Khawaja 8 203 29.00 0/ 1

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ballsintherightareas on July 8, 2013, 21:21 GMT

    I love that cricinfo published articles like this. Good effort, Mr Rajesh, but I do feel the analysis is somewhat imperfect. The main flaw is the inclusion of the records of retired players. Surely they can be of no relevance in trying to predict the performances of the current players.

    I also agree with Flashman to an extent. When I do these analyses I usually base them on the last 2 years as that feels a better predictor that either longer or shorter periods (though I've never done any analysis to discover whether that is actually valid or not). What I would really like to see are recency-adjusted averages in which recent scores carry more weight than older scores.

    Finally, I think that 50 to 100 conversion rate is irrelevant. If batsman A scores 50 every innings and batsman B scores 0, 100, 0, 100 and so on, the are equally valuable players. A low conversion rate may just mean being very good at avoiding low scores.

  • Barnesy4444 on July 8, 2013, 14:47 GMT

    Moppa, Hussey used to be an opener but turned into an excellent number 4. Somehow he ended up at 6. When we were regularly 3/10 with Hussey sitting down at 6 it was a total waste.

    N. Harvey, Chappell brothers, Punter, Clarke, M.Waugh, Martyn and Boon as a few examples all began their careers in the middle order and had to earn their stripes before earning a move to 3-4.

    Khawaja doesn't even rate a mention next to these other players so why shouldn't he also begin his career in the same fashion as these other greats? Langer and Hayden were openers, it's a specialised position so not relevant.

  • Benkl on July 8, 2013, 14:24 GMT

    Id play cowen at #3 its hit last chance.. For 3 reasons

    1) Nottingham is seaming pitch .. we will likely loose an early wicket and you dont want to expose clarke. 2) He spent a countty season on this very pitch. 3) He was one of the best in India .. you cant really sack someone with form when Hughes has always been great against crap attacks on flat pitches but struggled in India and last time he was in England.

    If he gets less than 100 runs for the match id replace him . Unless we play 4 bowlers Steve Smith can wait a match .

  • McCricket_ on July 8, 2013, 12:05 GMT

    I completely agree about the importance for Australia to somehow match England's top order.

    However, the 40 month comparison seems a bit long, given the emergence of a better Australian bowling attack, and less rock-solid form from England. The same stats over 20 months, show Australia 2nd best for win/loss (11 wins, 7 losses) & England on 5th place with 7 wins, 7 losses. Average runs are closer, with Australia only 2 runs per wicket better than England. Australian average runs are the same over the 20 & 40 month periods, at 34, whilst the England average dropped from 40 to 32. So . . . narrow the timeframe, and we get an idea of recent form. (Most recently, of course, Australia were utterly hopeless in India.) England still firm favourites at home, but form in 2012 does not show the teams miles apart.

  • Moppa on July 8, 2013, 11:56 GMT

    @Barnesy4444, you can argue this 'blooding players in the middle order' thing either way. For starters, are you really saying that Rob Quiney would be a world-beater if only he had a gentle introduction at no.6? But, taking the names you mention, Steve Waugh never moved up the order (apart from a brief stint in 1992/93) and was happy for Langer, Hayden and others to debut above him. Border also let players like Jones and Boon play above him early in their careers. As for Bradman, well, hard to learn anything from his career that applies to anyone else, but he was batting no.3 by the age of 21. Somehow, I think he would have gone fine without the experience of three matches down the order. In general, surely top-order players like Hughes, Cowan, Rogers, Quiney, Khawaja etc, who've spent their whole career batting against the new ball, are capable of debuting in the top order. Similarly, good players of spin like Clarke and Smith should play in the middle-order.

  • TheMightyPirates on July 8, 2013, 7:52 GMT

    @ Chris_Howard, totally agree. Australia has the potential to play some breathtaking and extremely competitive cricket and will outclass England in some sessions particularly if Watson, Hughes and Clarke bat to their full potential and Pattinson continues his form with the ball. The reality is that England through all their experience are a better test team with a mix of conventional and stylish batsmen and balanced bowling attack that has served them well. Australia definitely has the capabilities but England are currently a tougher team - based on batting superiority - that is far more used to winning and they will lift for the ashes far more than they did against New Zealand. England's consistency will shine through. If Australia are to win then Cook and Pietersen in particular need to be kept quiet.

  • Barnesy4444 on July 8, 2013, 3:17 GMT

    Batmanian, you are right. Hughes should be persisted with at 3 until someone else pushes him out. Hayden just needed a bit of faith and persistence and he repaid selectors, it's the same with Hughes. If Khawaja is picked it should be in the middle order until he proves he's hungry enough to consistently make large scores before moving up the order.

  • Barnesy4444 on July 8, 2013, 3:10 GMT

    For decades Australia's tradition has been to introduce young batsmen into the middle order, 5-6. If they perform well then, and only then, do they receive a promotion to up the order. Bradman, Punter, Waugh and Clarke all began down there.

    In recent years selectors have been keeping our experienced bats in the middle order and playing brand new players in the vital top order. Why wasn't Hussey moved up to 3 and Clarke 4 when our top order was struggling? Maybe Khawaja, Quiney, Marsh etc etc would have been more successful with less pressure batting at 6? They may be settled members of the team by now and ready to move up the order.

    I can't fathom why many think Khawaja should come in at 3, he should begin his career in the middle order like everyone else. He is more likely to be successful which is better for everyone.

  • heathrf1974 on July 7, 2013, 15:36 GMT

    Very interesting. I thought the difference between openers would be greater. But it is the positions of 3 and 4 where Australia's fragile batting is most prominent. Good article and tells a lot.

  • Chris_Howard on July 7, 2013, 12:51 GMT

    I think most of the time it will be even, Auatralia winning some sessions, and England others. But England will win the key sessions and hence the series.

  • ballsintherightareas on July 8, 2013, 21:21 GMT

    I love that cricinfo published articles like this. Good effort, Mr Rajesh, but I do feel the analysis is somewhat imperfect. The main flaw is the inclusion of the records of retired players. Surely they can be of no relevance in trying to predict the performances of the current players.

    I also agree with Flashman to an extent. When I do these analyses I usually base them on the last 2 years as that feels a better predictor that either longer or shorter periods (though I've never done any analysis to discover whether that is actually valid or not). What I would really like to see are recency-adjusted averages in which recent scores carry more weight than older scores.

    Finally, I think that 50 to 100 conversion rate is irrelevant. If batsman A scores 50 every innings and batsman B scores 0, 100, 0, 100 and so on, the are equally valuable players. A low conversion rate may just mean being very good at avoiding low scores.

  • Barnesy4444 on July 8, 2013, 14:47 GMT

    Moppa, Hussey used to be an opener but turned into an excellent number 4. Somehow he ended up at 6. When we were regularly 3/10 with Hussey sitting down at 6 it was a total waste.

    N. Harvey, Chappell brothers, Punter, Clarke, M.Waugh, Martyn and Boon as a few examples all began their careers in the middle order and had to earn their stripes before earning a move to 3-4.

    Khawaja doesn't even rate a mention next to these other players so why shouldn't he also begin his career in the same fashion as these other greats? Langer and Hayden were openers, it's a specialised position so not relevant.

  • Benkl on July 8, 2013, 14:24 GMT

    Id play cowen at #3 its hit last chance.. For 3 reasons

    1) Nottingham is seaming pitch .. we will likely loose an early wicket and you dont want to expose clarke. 2) He spent a countty season on this very pitch. 3) He was one of the best in India .. you cant really sack someone with form when Hughes has always been great against crap attacks on flat pitches but struggled in India and last time he was in England.

    If he gets less than 100 runs for the match id replace him . Unless we play 4 bowlers Steve Smith can wait a match .

  • McCricket_ on July 8, 2013, 12:05 GMT

    I completely agree about the importance for Australia to somehow match England's top order.

    However, the 40 month comparison seems a bit long, given the emergence of a better Australian bowling attack, and less rock-solid form from England. The same stats over 20 months, show Australia 2nd best for win/loss (11 wins, 7 losses) & England on 5th place with 7 wins, 7 losses. Average runs are closer, with Australia only 2 runs per wicket better than England. Australian average runs are the same over the 20 & 40 month periods, at 34, whilst the England average dropped from 40 to 32. So . . . narrow the timeframe, and we get an idea of recent form. (Most recently, of course, Australia were utterly hopeless in India.) England still firm favourites at home, but form in 2012 does not show the teams miles apart.

  • Moppa on July 8, 2013, 11:56 GMT

    @Barnesy4444, you can argue this 'blooding players in the middle order' thing either way. For starters, are you really saying that Rob Quiney would be a world-beater if only he had a gentle introduction at no.6? But, taking the names you mention, Steve Waugh never moved up the order (apart from a brief stint in 1992/93) and was happy for Langer, Hayden and others to debut above him. Border also let players like Jones and Boon play above him early in their careers. As for Bradman, well, hard to learn anything from his career that applies to anyone else, but he was batting no.3 by the age of 21. Somehow, I think he would have gone fine without the experience of three matches down the order. In general, surely top-order players like Hughes, Cowan, Rogers, Quiney, Khawaja etc, who've spent their whole career batting against the new ball, are capable of debuting in the top order. Similarly, good players of spin like Clarke and Smith should play in the middle-order.

  • TheMightyPirates on July 8, 2013, 7:52 GMT

    @ Chris_Howard, totally agree. Australia has the potential to play some breathtaking and extremely competitive cricket and will outclass England in some sessions particularly if Watson, Hughes and Clarke bat to their full potential and Pattinson continues his form with the ball. The reality is that England through all their experience are a better test team with a mix of conventional and stylish batsmen and balanced bowling attack that has served them well. Australia definitely has the capabilities but England are currently a tougher team - based on batting superiority - that is far more used to winning and they will lift for the ashes far more than they did against New Zealand. England's consistency will shine through. If Australia are to win then Cook and Pietersen in particular need to be kept quiet.

  • Barnesy4444 on July 8, 2013, 3:17 GMT

    Batmanian, you are right. Hughes should be persisted with at 3 until someone else pushes him out. Hayden just needed a bit of faith and persistence and he repaid selectors, it's the same with Hughes. If Khawaja is picked it should be in the middle order until he proves he's hungry enough to consistently make large scores before moving up the order.

  • Barnesy4444 on July 8, 2013, 3:10 GMT

    For decades Australia's tradition has been to introduce young batsmen into the middle order, 5-6. If they perform well then, and only then, do they receive a promotion to up the order. Bradman, Punter, Waugh and Clarke all began down there.

    In recent years selectors have been keeping our experienced bats in the middle order and playing brand new players in the vital top order. Why wasn't Hussey moved up to 3 and Clarke 4 when our top order was struggling? Maybe Khawaja, Quiney, Marsh etc etc would have been more successful with less pressure batting at 6? They may be settled members of the team by now and ready to move up the order.

    I can't fathom why many think Khawaja should come in at 3, he should begin his career in the middle order like everyone else. He is more likely to be successful which is better for everyone.

  • heathrf1974 on July 7, 2013, 15:36 GMT

    Very interesting. I thought the difference between openers would be greater. But it is the positions of 3 and 4 where Australia's fragile batting is most prominent. Good article and tells a lot.

  • Chris_Howard on July 7, 2013, 12:51 GMT

    I think most of the time it will be even, Auatralia winning some sessions, and England others. But England will win the key sessions and hence the series.

  • Batmanian on July 7, 2013, 7:58 GMT

    Horrible stuff for Australia. I'm confident about Watson and Rogers, for some slightly irrational reason. Obviously, a first drop is not going to pop up out of nowhere. I would be inclined to try to develop either Hughes or Warner in the role - it most likely won't work, and they'll have to be bumped down or out - while trying to train Khawaja down the order with a view to stepping up to 3 when/if he's among the best three or four batsmen in the team and his concentration has improved. That or chuck Maddinson in at 3 as a pinch-hitter. Cowan at 3 would be a waste as to trying to develop the team, although it is the conservative prospect at the moment. The cupboard is bare of obvious selectees, so Lehmann et al. have to get a bit kinky.

  • jmcilhinney on July 6, 2013, 1:05 GMT

    I think that one striking statistic in all this is Ian Bell with 11 innings at #3 or #4 at 59.27 with 2 50s and 2 100s, easily the best in that group. I doubt that it will happen and there are plenty of good reasons for that, but a case could be made for Bell batting at #3. He could have made that position his own long ago but failed, so I understand the reticence to try again, but his recent returns suggest that he may do much better there than further down the order. He's obviously not quite got the temperament to go with his significant physical talent but maybe the extra responsibility of playing at #3 is what he needs to really buckle down and live up to his potential. If he is moved up though, what do you then do with Trott and KP? Trott did bat at #4 behind Bell for Warks so that might not be a big deal. Would KP at #5 cause any issues? I guess the question is whether their output would suffer as much or more than Bell's would improve. We'll probably never know but I'd like to.

  • on July 5, 2013, 16:03 GMT

    Bairstow at 6 will be a weakness, not on talent but the guy just hasn't played any competitive cricket. His numbers don't stack up against even compton who, if they were adamant Root had to open, could well have done a very good job at 6. The number 6 doesn't have to be a dasher and more often than not solid technique against the second new ball is a must for a 6. With Prior at 7 and Bell / KP at 4 & 5 there are enough free flowing run scorers in the top 6 already. Is Bairstow going to dig you out fo a hole if they fail? Remains to be seen.

  • on July 5, 2013, 15:47 GMT

    Being an Englishman I don't like to count my Chickens till the eggs hatch. I remember Mike Getting's squad in Australia 1986/87 and the flack they received before the tests started. Great players have to start somewhere and we may be in for some surprises from the Aussies - who knows? I'm holding fire until the test matches start and see how Darren Lehmann has pulled the squad together.

  • yorkshire-86 on July 5, 2013, 14:48 GMT

    Australia have a big problem with favouritism. The second best by far batsman (after MC) in Australia, Simon Katich, does not even get in as reserve. Yet Hughes gets life after life after life and returns failure after failure after failure. Yet he is retained and Katich abandoned. Average of 28 as opener and 29 as middle order? That is not the stats of a top class player. Then they come up with the nonsence 'he is young and will improve'. Sorry he is not getting any younger and his batting is in fact deteriorating. Then to kill that argument completely they pick Rogers - if he is not too old then why not the second best batsman in the country?

  • YorkshirePudding on July 5, 2013, 14:26 GMT

    @Posted by on (July 5, 2013, 12:53 GMT), england wont reclaim anything, they may retain the Ashes but the cannot reclaim them in this series. On the other hand, Australia may reclaim them, but cannot retain them.

  • on July 5, 2013, 12:53 GMT

    And this is where England should reclaim the Ashes. There is no getting away from Australia's inability to solidify a strong top 4. Our bowlers will get amongst the English batsmen on a few occassions, but wont be able to do it all the time. KP and co will take it away from Aust when it really matters.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on July 5, 2013, 12:35 GMT

    Surprise surprise... England better at every position except 5 and 6 due to Clarke's brilliance at 5 for Aus. and England's ineptitude at 6. Hopefully the Ashes will finally see an end to short-format specialists like Warner, Hughes and Wade in tests for Aus., and young Root asserting himself in the middle/lower order as opposed to opening!

    Poor poor Simon Katich... Miles ahead of the likes of Warner and Hughes in my opinion.

  • highveldhillbilly on July 5, 2013, 9:37 GMT

    I think one of the more under rated players in the world is Matt Prior. Having him come in at number 7 is huge. The poms bat deep (although Board's batting has regressed). The Aussies need at least two batsmen to have a stormer and and contributions from the rest.

  • KeithMillersHair on July 5, 2013, 9:04 GMT

    Well this is pretty grim reading. The comparisons for positions 3 and 4 in particular highlight Australia's problems over the last couple of years. Clarke, and to a lesser extent Hussey the only glimmers of light in the line-up. I guess the only positive thing to say is that the problem has been identified and defined for a while now, and while there is still not a lot of choice of batsmen to plug the holes, at least some clear decisions seem to be getting made. Suspect the figures for this series will be at least little bit closer between the two teams.

  • GermanPlayer on July 5, 2013, 8:58 GMT

    lol. Ponting still leads the averages even though he was on the decline while all the others are future stars. Goes to show how great the man had been during his career that an average of 34 was unthinkable!!!!

  • Romanticstud on July 5, 2013, 8:37 GMT

    Another good comparison ... Australia have been hurt since Hayden, Langer and co were adding 100+ for the first wicket and the others were there to just put another nail in the opposition's coffin and with McGrath, Warne, Lee and co bowling the opposition out made a huge difference ... Now they are trying different combinations in both batting and bowling departments because of form and injury woes ... England too in the bowling have been impacted by injury to bowlers but their fortress has been made by Cook, Strauss, Trott, Pietersen and Bell not discounting Prior, Bresnan and co in the lower middle order ... Another point is that the pool of players in Australia is limited to Sheffield shield where players fight for places ... where England have a huge pool to draw from in County cricket and imports from Australia and South Africa ...

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  • Romanticstud on July 5, 2013, 8:37 GMT

    Another good comparison ... Australia have been hurt since Hayden, Langer and co were adding 100+ for the first wicket and the others were there to just put another nail in the opposition's coffin and with McGrath, Warne, Lee and co bowling the opposition out made a huge difference ... Now they are trying different combinations in both batting and bowling departments because of form and injury woes ... England too in the bowling have been impacted by injury to bowlers but their fortress has been made by Cook, Strauss, Trott, Pietersen and Bell not discounting Prior, Bresnan and co in the lower middle order ... Another point is that the pool of players in Australia is limited to Sheffield shield where players fight for places ... where England have a huge pool to draw from in County cricket and imports from Australia and South Africa ...

  • GermanPlayer on July 5, 2013, 8:58 GMT

    lol. Ponting still leads the averages even though he was on the decline while all the others are future stars. Goes to show how great the man had been during his career that an average of 34 was unthinkable!!!!

  • KeithMillersHair on July 5, 2013, 9:04 GMT

    Well this is pretty grim reading. The comparisons for positions 3 and 4 in particular highlight Australia's problems over the last couple of years. Clarke, and to a lesser extent Hussey the only glimmers of light in the line-up. I guess the only positive thing to say is that the problem has been identified and defined for a while now, and while there is still not a lot of choice of batsmen to plug the holes, at least some clear decisions seem to be getting made. Suspect the figures for this series will be at least little bit closer between the two teams.

  • highveldhillbilly on July 5, 2013, 9:37 GMT

    I think one of the more under rated players in the world is Matt Prior. Having him come in at number 7 is huge. The poms bat deep (although Board's batting has regressed). The Aussies need at least two batsmen to have a stormer and and contributions from the rest.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on July 5, 2013, 12:35 GMT

    Surprise surprise... England better at every position except 5 and 6 due to Clarke's brilliance at 5 for Aus. and England's ineptitude at 6. Hopefully the Ashes will finally see an end to short-format specialists like Warner, Hughes and Wade in tests for Aus., and young Root asserting himself in the middle/lower order as opposed to opening!

    Poor poor Simon Katich... Miles ahead of the likes of Warner and Hughes in my opinion.

  • on July 5, 2013, 12:53 GMT

    And this is where England should reclaim the Ashes. There is no getting away from Australia's inability to solidify a strong top 4. Our bowlers will get amongst the English batsmen on a few occassions, but wont be able to do it all the time. KP and co will take it away from Aust when it really matters.

  • YorkshirePudding on July 5, 2013, 14:26 GMT

    @Posted by on (July 5, 2013, 12:53 GMT), england wont reclaim anything, they may retain the Ashes but the cannot reclaim them in this series. On the other hand, Australia may reclaim them, but cannot retain them.

  • yorkshire-86 on July 5, 2013, 14:48 GMT

    Australia have a big problem with favouritism. The second best by far batsman (after MC) in Australia, Simon Katich, does not even get in as reserve. Yet Hughes gets life after life after life and returns failure after failure after failure. Yet he is retained and Katich abandoned. Average of 28 as opener and 29 as middle order? That is not the stats of a top class player. Then they come up with the nonsence 'he is young and will improve'. Sorry he is not getting any younger and his batting is in fact deteriorating. Then to kill that argument completely they pick Rogers - if he is not too old then why not the second best batsman in the country?

  • on July 5, 2013, 15:47 GMT

    Being an Englishman I don't like to count my Chickens till the eggs hatch. I remember Mike Getting's squad in Australia 1986/87 and the flack they received before the tests started. Great players have to start somewhere and we may be in for some surprises from the Aussies - who knows? I'm holding fire until the test matches start and see how Darren Lehmann has pulled the squad together.

  • on July 5, 2013, 16:03 GMT

    Bairstow at 6 will be a weakness, not on talent but the guy just hasn't played any competitive cricket. His numbers don't stack up against even compton who, if they were adamant Root had to open, could well have done a very good job at 6. The number 6 doesn't have to be a dasher and more often than not solid technique against the second new ball is a must for a 6. With Prior at 7 and Bell / KP at 4 & 5 there are enough free flowing run scorers in the top 6 already. Is Bairstow going to dig you out fo a hole if they fail? Remains to be seen.