The Ashes 2013-14

England fly out for history quest

Andrew McGlashan

October 23, 2013

Comments: 27 | Text size: A | A

England fly out to Australia on Wednesday evening to begin their attempt at securing a fourth straight Ashes series victory, something they haven't achieved since the 19th century.

A squad of 17 - which won't be far off being doubled when the backroom staff are taken into account - is led by Alastair Cook and will depart for Perth where they will begin preparations for the Test series that starts on November 21 at the Gabba.

Tim Bresnan, who was diagnosed with a stress fracture of the back after the Durham Test where England clinched the series, will also leave with the squad but is not an official member yet and his recovery will be monitored during the early weeks of the tour. There are three uncapped players in the party - Gary Ballance, Ben Stokes and Boyd Rankin - while Michael Carberry has just a single Test to his name.

Ballance, the Yorkshire left hander, and Durham allrounder Stokes are two of the players vying for the troublesome No. 6 spot, alongside Jonny Bairstow who was in possession of the position until The Oval Test, and deciding who fills that role will be one of the key decisions to reach during the lead-in period before Brisbane.

The first warm-up match, against a Western Australia XI, begins on October 31 after a period of acclimatisation. England's proficient use of the tour matches on the 2010-11 tour, where they won two and dominated a draw in the other, was highlighted as a key factor in their success on that trip even though they began slowly in Brisbane, being bowled out for 260 on the opening day.

England's recent record in opening Tests away from home is poor: they have not won the first encounter since beating South Africa, at Port Elizabeth, in 2004.

There are concerns this time about the strength of the opposition England will encounter in the early weeks of the tour. The matches against Western Australia, Australia A and New South Wales all clash with rounds of the Sheffield Shield. The sides fielded by WA and NSW are likely to be particularly under strength and it has been suggested that reinforcements will be called in. Ultimately for England, though, the importance will be getting miles in the bowlers' legs and hours at the crease for the batsmen.

Tim Bresnan gave England's innings a bit of hurry up, England v Australia, 4th Investec Test, 4th day, Chester-le-Street, August 12, 2013
Tim Bresnan flies out with the official squad to continue his recovery from injury © Getty Images

Three years ago, Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss fielded the first Test starting XI in the first two warm-up matches before resting the four frontline bowlers - James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn and Graeme Swann - for the match against Australia A in Hobart.

Anderson, Broad and Swann are, fitness permitting, certainties again but Finn will have to fight to regain the place he lost after the opening Test at Trent Bridge in July. On that occasion his berth went to Bresnan, who provided greater control and added depth to lower order. This time, unless Bresnan's recovery is unexpectedly rapid, his competition will come from Rankin, who impressed during the one-day series against Australia last month, and the recalled Chris Tremlett who had a major impact on the 2010-11 series when he was brought in for the Perth Test onwards.

Tremlett, who played his previous Test against Pakistan in January 2012, was expected to start on his homeground at The Oval in August but, at the last minute, was overlooked as England changed the balance of their side by handing debuts to Chris Woakes and Simon Kerrigan.

The experiment was not a success and neither have made this tour: Woakes was solid, but has been leapfrogged by Stokes, and Kerrigan suffered a nightmare debut as he was mauled by Shane Watson. Despite Stokes' presence in the squad, the odds favour England returning to their preferred balance of six batsmen, the wicketkeeper, three fast bowlers and Swann.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

RSS Feeds: Andrew McGlashan

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by cricket_ahan on (October 28, 2013, 3:14 GMT)

I'm hoping for a George Bailey debut in Brisbane. For me, he could be Australia's wild card for this upcoming tour. Not only should he be sky-high on confidence from his recent runs in India (and the tour's not over yet), but the players around him appear to be responding well to his captaincy, making him an ideal candidate to support Clarke with leadership duties.IMO Phil Hughes or Usman Khawaja need to go to make room for him.

Posted by Valavan on (October 25, 2013, 10:58 GMT)

@cptmeanster, keep on speaking about ODIs when we speak about tests. BTW is your purpose to come and whine here. Think about your team, who gonna play 13 away tests, is your batters ready for PACE strips, ready to face PHIL, STEYN, ANDY, BROADY, STARC, BOULT, HARRIS, WAGNER in pacy wickets. ODI is a different ball game.

Posted by   on (October 24, 2013, 17:01 GMT)

@PrasPunter: Well said. Test cricket is so much more nuanced and interesting. I enjoy one-day cricket despite my team's' hopelessness in the format, but the 5-day games have so much more twists and turns to saviour, and the game is a far more thorough examination of a cricketer's rounded ability.

Posted by landl47 on (October 24, 2013, 13:52 GMT)

@Englishfan: yes, that's the side I'd go for, too: Cook, Root, Trott, Pietersen, Bell, Ballance, Prior, Broad, Swann, Anderson, Rankin. I thought Rankin bowled very well in the ODIs and had Clarke in all kinds of trouble, but since in short-format cricket the 3rd change bits-and-pieces bowler has to bowl as much as the best bowler (just one reason why short-format cricket can never be as good as the real thing) Clarke didn't have to face him for very long. He looks made for Australia, though- 88mph, 6' 7", high action, lots of lift and an awkward length. Finn might have to take a back seat, but he's 5 years younger and his time will come.

Ballance is a really bright prospect and batting #6 on this tour would be ideal for him. I think Bairstow's future is as a WK/batsman when Prior retires (and even then he'll have lots of competition from Buttler and Foakes).

Agree re: Swann. The only good thing is it looks like spin won't be a big factor on this tour, but he needs to stay fit.

Posted by CodandChips on (October 24, 2013, 9:11 GMT)

Should be a close series- 2-1 England. I am a big Steven Finn fan but believe England will go with Rankin after the ODI series. I'm glad Ballance is going he he should be number 6 for the series and a long-term Pietersen replacement. Disappointed no Taylor or Woakes in squad, but Stokes looks like he will be better in the future, so his inclusion is not upsetting. Worried about backup for Swan though, his fitness is vital for us.

Posted by latecut_04 on (October 24, 2013, 5:58 GMT)

'BOWLERS WIN MATCHES' and on Aus tracks Australia have match winning bowlers.The likes of Bird,Cummins,Starc,Pattinson and even Jhonson would be a handful.Spin is a woory but Aus wil ldefinitely go for bouncy tracks to favor their quicks.As for batting wont the likes of Clarke,Haddin and even Watson play much better than they did in June.They may not score 200s except Clarke but they should be able to put up fighting totals on board.Also dont forget 2 of the matches were really close last time and although the end analysis was 'End won despite their batting not firing on all cylinders' is there any guarantee Eng will amass large totals come Dec-Jan.Even more amusing is the pessimism of Aussie supporters.i think we are in for a new year surprise and this is from India.

Posted by android_user on (October 24, 2013, 3:23 GMT)

surely England bowlers get injuries, if u c when they tour abroad get injuries especially broad

Posted by Hammond on (October 24, 2013, 2:43 GMT)

I am one Aussie that will be cheering on the three lions. Unlike 2006 there aren't any serious injury worries, so really we should expect a repeat of 2010/11, and given that the Aussie test squad is even weaker than the 2010 side, maybe we can expect even more carnage!

Posted by JG2704 on (October 23, 2013, 22:04 GMT)

@Cpt.Meanster on (October 23, 2013, 17:43 GMT) To be honest it's hard to link SF form with test form and vice versa even if the best in world pace battery might be a bit far fetched - although he could be talking about the battery they put in the bowling machine? Also most of the bowlers from both sides are coming away from these ODIs with worse figures than usual. Add to that the fact that the likelihood is that only one of the frontline bowlers stands a realistic chance of being involved and Eng batsmen by and large aren't as positive either. However Aus are level with India in India and their batsmen have brought a positive mindset against bowlers who they have had probs with before. If they can bring that attitude with a little discipline they could be very hard to beat at home.

@DRS_Flawed_NeedsImprovement on (October 23, 2013, 16:35 GMT) re "Enough said." - Too much said on something which is not related to the thread

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (October 23, 2013, 18:43 GMT)

@electric_loco_WAP4: Woah, take it easy bro. We saw how this 'pace battery' got flayed by India's batsmen when they failed to defend 359 in 50 overs. If I am an Australian fan, I would watch what I say. At the same time, I am not an England fan either but in test cricket they are a very good team and have all bases covered. If this was an ODI series, then I would agree with your sentiment cause England are hopeless in ODIs.

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (October 23, 2013, 18:28 GMT)

I do hope that for the Aus A game the home team is Aus A-ie their reserve side. OI think we tend to put out our reserves against tourists and one hopes for reciprocation. NSW too one would like to think will be a good team to play. I am not to worried about WA as this is the first game of the tour, but I hope it stays 11 a side. As for firast ball of series syndrome hopefully strauss laid that to rest on the last tour. Now it is just first test syndrome which needs to be dealt with.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (October 23, 2013, 18:10 GMT)

England should win this one. They are a better overall team in test matches. Australian batting is still suspect and some of their players CAN'T play spin or the short ball well as we saw today how their top 3 failed against India's quick bowlers in the 4th ODI. Besides, England would be totally acclimatized to the conditions down under by the time the Aussie boys return from a gruelling ODI tour to India. So England have all the advantage here. I hope the Australian fans are realistic in their ambitions for this Ashes. But good luck to both teams.

Posted by DRS_Flawed_NeedsImprovement on (October 23, 2013, 17:48 GMT)

how could you say he is best bowler if he cannot defend 12 runs in an over? How could you say he is great batsman if he cannot score mandatory 10 runs in last over? One who is attacking a good bowler becomes a great batsman. One who is capable of Picking a Wicket of good batsman within particular time becomes great bowler. Attacking a good ball is good batting. This is the beauty of shorter format. All you can find in ODI, that is real cricket. Enough said.

Posted by DRS_Flawed_NeedsImprovement on (October 23, 2013, 17:35 GMT)

how could you say he is best bowler if he cannot defend 12 runs in an over? How could you say he is great batsman if he cannot score mandatory 10 runs in last over? One who is attacking a good bowler becomes a great batsman. One who is capable of Picking a Wicket of good batsman within particular time becomes great bowler. Attacking a good ball is good batting. This is the beauty of shorter format. All you can find in ODI, that is real cricket. Enough said.

Posted by Selassie-I on (October 23, 2013, 16:54 GMT)

Electric_loco has possibly gone loco, "the best pace attach in the world".. the one that couldn't bowl out south africa at all, couldn't take a wicket on the sub continent and couldn't secure a win against England in seam friendly conditions a month ago.

You also mention 'limited England bowling attack' that would be the same bowling attack that has consistently bowled you out for the last 5 years. Except you now have a much weaker batting line up without Punter and Huss.

I also don't think old MJ has bowled at 95+mph ever, 90-94 maybe, but who cares how fast you bowl it at when it's short and 4 foot wide of the stumps.

Posted by cric_J on (October 23, 2013, 16:02 GMT)

I won't be much surprised if England get bowled out for under 200 in the 1st inngs at Brisbane. Their record in the first test of a series isn't something to boast about at all. Also, we've now not won the 3rd test in all 3 Ashes that we've won. That, though it may be a coincidence of sorts only, needs to addressed too. Other than that, things and results will depend match to match, player to player, performance to performance for both teams. But England should come out on top after all that neck wrangling.

Posted by cric_J on (October 23, 2013, 15:56 GMT)

So after a few days' rest, the nail biting, sweating, swearing, applauding, screaming , praying and finger crossing is about to commence again in about a months time, or it probably already has . And it's not only the players who'll be engaging in all this, but us fans too. And probably more than the on-field lads themselves.

We all know that England could create history by lifting the urn for the fourth time running and Australia could avoid history being created if they win a match after a long string of draws and losses (And that they should).

I am expecting it to be a really off-the-edge series, certainly better contested than the one this summer. Certain key moments and players from both sides will prove to be the deciding factor.

But although I'm sure of it being a close contest, I've little doubts in saying that England should win it. It won't be easy to get their fingers around the urn, but they should. So, all power to England.Come on lads, LET'S EARN THE URN !!

Posted by   on (October 23, 2013, 15:49 GMT)

I'm not concerned with the strength of the opposition in the warm-up games. Its more important to acclimatize to the pitches. I'm pretty sure our preparation is more suitable than the Aussies 7 one day internationals in India

Posted by   on (October 23, 2013, 15:41 GMT)

@ electric_loco. Loco indeed! Can't wait to remind you of this post when Eng flay Aus pacemen and Johnson in particular as they have done many times before.

Posted by   on (October 23, 2013, 15:32 GMT)

Australia have a skipper who is injured and probably on the verge of retiring because of it, their "vaunted" pace attack consists of guys who cant keep fit for more than 2 games in a row. The batting line up is a bunch of T20 specialists, the best batsmen seem to be Clarke (injured), Siddle (a bowler who is now past it) and a 37 year old wicketkeeper!

Posted by   on (October 23, 2013, 15:30 GMT)

england ready to tame team aus at their homegrounds. i think we will see spray celebrations again like last ashes . bell to score centuries galore and broad to silence the home crowds like a classroom. ENGLAND TO WIN ASHES BY A LANDSLIDE.

Posted by chipper75 on (October 23, 2013, 15:25 GMT)

Best pace battery in the world ?? You sure about that ?? We all remember Mitch Johnson from 2009 and 2010/11 - bowls to the left, bowls to the right etc.. which leaves the injury prone Ryan Harris and honest toiler Peter Siddle. All the rest are either injured or unproven. As the teams are the same from the summer I predict the same score - 3/0 to England and Clarke to resign as captain at the end....

Posted by electric_loco_WAP4 on (October 23, 2013, 14:55 GMT)

Eng are up against vs the young Aus team under Clark - world's best batsman cum captain. Certainly with definitive home adv. in the favour ,Aus' formidable array of quicks - the best pace battery in world - will have just the conditions they relish . It is sure that with fast ,pacy pitches for all tests, it is going to be heck of a task facing likes of Johnson tearing in @ 95mph . They ,as a pack will be just unplayable and if top 2 of Aus play out 5-10 new ball overs , the likes of Clarke and others can cash in on limited Eng bowling for 500 + each time . That ,will be just too big a score when you are trying to save game vs this Aus pace attack.Will be the odd tail/lower end type resistance from Eng l/order vs change bowlers, of course. But will be it enough to stop a few inngs wins for Aus ? Wait and see .

Posted by   on (October 23, 2013, 14:45 GMT)

Super, nothing gets the juices flowing more than an Ashes tour! My first memory of an Ashes tour is 1986! And the excitement never diminishes. And the first Test always produces a talking point! 1986: Botham 100 at Brisbane, 1990: Gooch injured, 1994: Slater smashes first ball for 4, 1998: Rain saves England, 2002: Hussain chooses to field, 2006: Harmisson first delivery, 2010: Strauss out 3rd ball! 2013: ???

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (October 23, 2013, 14:42 GMT)

Obviously the very best wishes to the England squad for their tour. It is an historic moment as this side have an opportunity to be the most successful side form these shores to tour Australia.(The fact that Aus have 8 series in a row should act as a spur). Anyway it will I think be a massive moment as the sides take the field at Brisbane in a month. I like the way we do tours with loads of preparation. Hell we do first Tests so badly that we need all the time to get ready, though maybe Brisbane will be better as we know all their players. Anyway I imagine nothing will have been left to chance on this tour, so luck will be included in the programme.

Posted by PrasPunter on (October 23, 2013, 14:41 GMT)

and so the real one starts - no field restrictions, no small grounds, not restrictions for bowlers - test cricket is the best by a long long mile.

Comments have now been closed for this article

Email Feedback Print
Andrew McGlashanClose
Andrew McGlashan Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.
Tour Results
Australia v England at Sydney - Feb 2, 2014
Australia won by 84 runs
Australia v England at Melbourne - Jan 31, 2014
Australia won by 8 wickets (with 31 balls remaining)
Australia v England at Hobart - Jan 29, 2014
Australia won by 13 runs
Australia v England at Adelaide - Jan 26, 2014
Australia won by 5 runs
Australia v England at Perth - Jan 24, 2014
England won by 57 runs
More results »
News | Features Last 3 days
News | Features Last 3 days