The Ashes 2013-14 January 1, 2014

'Unchangeables' chase Ashes sweep

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Feted by the nation across the Boxing Day Test and by the Prime Minister Tony Abbott on New Year's Day in Sydney, Australia's cricketers want nothing more than to complete a 5-0 Ashes sweep of England with the same XI who walked out onto the Gabba for the first day of a series that has surpassed all their expectations.

Stability has been an important ingredient of Australia's success, after the earlier series in England was used by the new coach Darren Lehmann to assess the strengths and weaknesses of a few players. Two of the greatest moments of Australian Test history were characterised by a similar lack of selection conjecture - the 1989 Ashes victors changed their team only once in six Tests, while Mark Taylor's men won a quasi-world title fight in the Caribbean in 1995 with the same XI over four matches.

None of Australia's pacemen bowled at the SCG on the first morning of 2014, resting up in preparation for a final tilt at England. James Faulkner and Nathan Coulter-Nile, who played for the Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League on New Year's Eve, are in reserve. Brad Haddin, the vice-captain and a heavily influential contributor to the current margin, explained how much the players wanted to go through unchanged.

"It'd be great if we could keep the same group together, that's what we're working towards." Haddin said. "The fast bowlers didn't do much today. They're all in pretty good shape, we just have to see tomorrow after they have a bowl but it's all looking in the right direction that we can hold the same group together and from our point of view that would be a massive achievement heading into this Test with the same group we started with. Pretty special for everyone.

"With back to back Test matches, [the bowlers] had a big work load so they didn't need to do much today. It varies, just monitoring on how they're feeling to be perfectly honest. The staff take good care of that and they all looked in pretty good spirits. Bodies feel fine, obviously tired like everyone is at the back end of a five-Test series but they're no different to what we are. We would love to have the same group go out that we did at the start of the tour and if they are right to go they deserve that right to come out in this fifth Test."

As Michael Clarke's deputy and also wicketkeeper, Haddin is constantly measuring the wellbeing of his team. He looks less for individual efforts with bat or ball than those in the field that emphasise team spirit - returns in from the outfield, backing up, chasing and generally supporting the bowlers. When asked how he viewed England's current state, he observed these areas had looked tellingly deficient in Melbourne.

"I don't think they're in a great place to be perfectly honest," Haddin said. "I think you could probably tell a bit of that in their fielding the other day. I think that's the first thing to go when you're struggling a bit. All the team stuff, all those little one percenters, they're the first thing to go when you're struggling as a team.

"The batting and bowling it's an individual thing but I think the team stuff looked like it was breaking a bit the other day. They can ask themselves those questions [if they can turn it around] and they're the only ones who can come up with the answers."

Sydney's pitch has lost much of its support for spin bowlers in recent summers, tending towards a surface more likely to seam early before flattening out into an ideal batting pitch then turning a little more late in the match. The current strip appeared well-grassed on Wednesday, with Haddin saying the roles of the spinners included in the match would revolve as much around bounce as spin.

"It looks like it's got a bit more grass than normal at the SCG. But that also allows spin early in the game," Haddin said. "It holds and you get some spin early in the game. We'll have a close look at what it's like. I think the one thing with spinners and Nathan [Lyon] is that it's not so much whether it breaks up, it's the bounce. If there's enough bounce in there Nathan will get enough out of it."

As for Scott Borthwick, England's prospective legspin debutant, Haddin offered no deviation from the plan of unrelenting attack that has rendered Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar all but impotent throughout the series. Swann is now retired, while Panesar's omission for Borthwick would be a major blow to his own career.

"It'd be an exciting time for him. It's a first Test and it's an Ashes campaign so it's an exciting time," Haddin said. "But interesting to see how we approach him. No doubt [we'll get after him]."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • din7 on January 2, 2014, 12:48 GMT

    @Greatest_Game ok u dont have any interest in Ashes but still have time to come here and post..hahahah..the truth is u just too frustated that india dont have anythin sort of ashes..im indian and have always watched ashes with interest..its the most biggest test series of all....is something burning? ther are 1000s of indians who follow ashes..excpt u..avg teams? its because ours below than avg! wait for year or so india will be back to their best desreved rankin NO.6..with series in aus lost 4-0..hope u'll show ur face then or as others do comment with different name...or better as lot of guys like u did after SA series..GO IN TO HIDING

  • xtrafalgarx on January 2, 2014, 12:27 GMT

    @Indian fans, don't forget you lot weren't good enough to win against this English side in your own backyard! So at least Australia can still win at home.

  • whofriggincares on January 2, 2014, 12:16 GMT

    @cpt.meanster if the Indians are "reasonably happy" with letting a team chase a record 458 (I know they didn't get there but they should have) and then losing by 10 wickets then I feel very sorry for their fans, they should be gutted as I am sure the captain and management are. I guess with the Indians dismal away record that sort of result is a win, a bit sad really. @neill99 , I know you have become the 3rd forced retirement of this ashes series with your ex username FFL, but if you start your new identity with absolute mindless rubbish like FFL used to babble on about people will soon realize that you are just an FFL in sheeps clothing. At least we know your real name now (and probably your highest ever score).

  • on January 2, 2014, 12:13 GMT

    Australia is a long way off being the no1 test team but at least I am no longer filled with dread at the thought of heading to SA! I think the series will be very close and you never know Mitch may retire a couple more for SA...sure Smith is not looking forward to facing Johnson in form again!! @ Capt. Meanster having been an interested observer of both India in SA and WI in New Zealand I think most of the worlds cricket lovers are interested in Ashes as in both series the commentators and players were well aware of what was happening in Aus

  • Arnab29 on January 2, 2014, 9:58 GMT

    @Shaggy076 Don't say that!! Many people outside Aus and Eng follow and care about the Ashes ( not like Cpt.Meanstar though ). I am an Indian and I support Aus over Ind every time they play ( much to the dismay of my family and friends ) and am truly ecstatic to see this performance of theirs.

    @Cpt.Meanstar it would be better if people like you who can only write negative things about things they don't give a damn about don't comment here!!

  • Shaggy076 on January 2, 2014, 8:34 GMT

    Cpt.Meanstar; We would be very happy if people outside England and Australia didnt care about the Ashes, so happy if they just didnt care to comment. That so many people comment suggests interest. I think a lot of us would be happy to go through a comment section and not read the unrelated "India is so awesome' comments.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on January 2, 2014, 7:23 GMT

    @neil99 You obviously don't know much about SA v Aus. We have very similar views on pitches, Lyon will be just as effective in SA as Aus as they don't, just as we don't, flatten out their pitches. Lyon+bounce=effective

    Why would Clarke automatically fail? Makes no sense. Johnson never performed for 4 tests in a row ever before that I can recall, his technique is new and improved and for the first time ever I have confidence in him to continue, at the very least, to not bowl all over the shop for an entire day of test cricket.

    Comments on Haddin make no sense, his keeping is not a flash in the pan it's genuinely MUCH better than it was. His batting is what it is. As for Warner I'm interested to see if he does fail. His technique has improved (the t20 game messed him up for the MCG imo) since he made that century in Hobart on a green monster, SA is a good test. We shall see.

    If you want to take a shot, target the batsmen, and Clarke is last on the soft target list.

  • LooksPlumbFromHere on January 2, 2014, 7:01 GMT

    @Protea et al, while we are getting things off our collective chests, what's with a 2 Test series for 1 v 2? I agree that SA v Ind was a great series, but can you can call 2 Tests a series? (I'm not sure it qualifies by definition!) This is the unfortunate product of dysfuctional ICC programming - it shouldn't be half done yet. Don't you wish for 2 or 3 more Tests?

    As for The Ashes - it will always be of interest to Aus and Eng, don't need to make that argument. But a lot of non-nationals are interested - the number of other cricket fans who post here suggests as much. I daresay any genuine cricket fan would be at least a bit interested. Sorry Cpt.Meanster!

    Re Aus v SA ... should be fantastic. SA are #1, and Aus needs to be tested against them to find out how much they have improved. Can't wait to see if Aus quicks can rattle SA guns like ABdV and Amla, and see if Aus bats can keep out Steyn, Philander and Morkel - contests like this are why we watch cricket!

  • Shaggy076 on January 2, 2014, 6:45 GMT

    Joseph Langford;My philosophy is pick the best batsman regardless of age. I wouldn't have picked Bailey at the start of the series but since they have I'm not for changing it now. Looking at Maddinson record au can't see why anyone is calling for him at this stage of his career at the moment he is simply not ready, As for Lynn he was out of the Wks side at the start of the year and has had a good year but so have many others. Simply put Lynn needs to perform longer than 3 games before he is considered for test cricket either. Personally I would be looking at Voges or Fergusson for 6 but as Bailey has been chosen the team is gelling I'd give him some more chances.

  • left_arm_unorthodox on January 2, 2014, 6:44 GMT

    9 or more ashes tests where side winning toss has not lost. It's all about the toss, man.

  • din7 on January 2, 2014, 12:48 GMT

    @Greatest_Game ok u dont have any interest in Ashes but still have time to come here and post..hahahah..the truth is u just too frustated that india dont have anythin sort of ashes..im indian and have always watched ashes with interest..its the most biggest test series of all....is something burning? ther are 1000s of indians who follow ashes..excpt u..avg teams? its because ours below than avg! wait for year or so india will be back to their best desreved rankin NO.6..with series in aus lost 4-0..hope u'll show ur face then or as others do comment with different name...or better as lot of guys like u did after SA series..GO IN TO HIDING

  • xtrafalgarx on January 2, 2014, 12:27 GMT

    @Indian fans, don't forget you lot weren't good enough to win against this English side in your own backyard! So at least Australia can still win at home.

  • whofriggincares on January 2, 2014, 12:16 GMT

    @cpt.meanster if the Indians are "reasonably happy" with letting a team chase a record 458 (I know they didn't get there but they should have) and then losing by 10 wickets then I feel very sorry for their fans, they should be gutted as I am sure the captain and management are. I guess with the Indians dismal away record that sort of result is a win, a bit sad really. @neill99 , I know you have become the 3rd forced retirement of this ashes series with your ex username FFL, but if you start your new identity with absolute mindless rubbish like FFL used to babble on about people will soon realize that you are just an FFL in sheeps clothing. At least we know your real name now (and probably your highest ever score).

  • on January 2, 2014, 12:13 GMT

    Australia is a long way off being the no1 test team but at least I am no longer filled with dread at the thought of heading to SA! I think the series will be very close and you never know Mitch may retire a couple more for SA...sure Smith is not looking forward to facing Johnson in form again!! @ Capt. Meanster having been an interested observer of both India in SA and WI in New Zealand I think most of the worlds cricket lovers are interested in Ashes as in both series the commentators and players were well aware of what was happening in Aus

  • Arnab29 on January 2, 2014, 9:58 GMT

    @Shaggy076 Don't say that!! Many people outside Aus and Eng follow and care about the Ashes ( not like Cpt.Meanstar though ). I am an Indian and I support Aus over Ind every time they play ( much to the dismay of my family and friends ) and am truly ecstatic to see this performance of theirs.

    @Cpt.Meanstar it would be better if people like you who can only write negative things about things they don't give a damn about don't comment here!!

  • Shaggy076 on January 2, 2014, 8:34 GMT

    Cpt.Meanstar; We would be very happy if people outside England and Australia didnt care about the Ashes, so happy if they just didnt care to comment. That so many people comment suggests interest. I think a lot of us would be happy to go through a comment section and not read the unrelated "India is so awesome' comments.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on January 2, 2014, 7:23 GMT

    @neil99 You obviously don't know much about SA v Aus. We have very similar views on pitches, Lyon will be just as effective in SA as Aus as they don't, just as we don't, flatten out their pitches. Lyon+bounce=effective

    Why would Clarke automatically fail? Makes no sense. Johnson never performed for 4 tests in a row ever before that I can recall, his technique is new and improved and for the first time ever I have confidence in him to continue, at the very least, to not bowl all over the shop for an entire day of test cricket.

    Comments on Haddin make no sense, his keeping is not a flash in the pan it's genuinely MUCH better than it was. His batting is what it is. As for Warner I'm interested to see if he does fail. His technique has improved (the t20 game messed him up for the MCG imo) since he made that century in Hobart on a green monster, SA is a good test. We shall see.

    If you want to take a shot, target the batsmen, and Clarke is last on the soft target list.

  • LooksPlumbFromHere on January 2, 2014, 7:01 GMT

    @Protea et al, while we are getting things off our collective chests, what's with a 2 Test series for 1 v 2? I agree that SA v Ind was a great series, but can you can call 2 Tests a series? (I'm not sure it qualifies by definition!) This is the unfortunate product of dysfuctional ICC programming - it shouldn't be half done yet. Don't you wish for 2 or 3 more Tests?

    As for The Ashes - it will always be of interest to Aus and Eng, don't need to make that argument. But a lot of non-nationals are interested - the number of other cricket fans who post here suggests as much. I daresay any genuine cricket fan would be at least a bit interested. Sorry Cpt.Meanster!

    Re Aus v SA ... should be fantastic. SA are #1, and Aus needs to be tested against them to find out how much they have improved. Can't wait to see if Aus quicks can rattle SA guns like ABdV and Amla, and see if Aus bats can keep out Steyn, Philander and Morkel - contests like this are why we watch cricket!

  • Shaggy076 on January 2, 2014, 6:45 GMT

    Joseph Langford;My philosophy is pick the best batsman regardless of age. I wouldn't have picked Bailey at the start of the series but since they have I'm not for changing it now. Looking at Maddinson record au can't see why anyone is calling for him at this stage of his career at the moment he is simply not ready, As for Lynn he was out of the Wks side at the start of the year and has had a good year but so have many others. Simply put Lynn needs to perform longer than 3 games before he is considered for test cricket either. Personally I would be looking at Voges or Fergusson for 6 but as Bailey has been chosen the team is gelling I'd give him some more chances.

  • left_arm_unorthodox on January 2, 2014, 6:44 GMT

    9 or more ashes tests where side winning toss has not lost. It's all about the toss, man.

  • neil99 on January 2, 2014, 6:24 GMT

    We all know Australia will get smashed by SA - in fact, it'll be a whitewash.

    I can' t wait for Clarke, Lyon, especially flat track bullyWarner, flash in the pan Haddin and tbe dodgy minded Johnson to spectacularly fail; and look forward to the inevitable onset of "this is the worst Australia team ever" from the Aus media and many so called fans on these boards.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on January 2, 2014, 6:15 GMT

    Australia should feel free to swap out Bailey for anyone. It would be nearly impossible to lose anything in the batting department, and you could obviously gain in the fielding/bowling of a different player. Say, for example, Faulkner for Bailey. This would never happen, but I think your batting/bowling/fielding presence increases in that trade if we are talking specifically test team.

    Surely 5 seamers with a stronger batting lineup and a bit more youth is better than 4 seamers and an old guy who cant bat in tests, cant throw because he has a bung shoulder, and cant bowl.

    /2 cents

  • Shaggy076 on January 2, 2014, 6:12 GMT

    Aden; Clearly I was referring to the two double tons Clarke hit against Steyn, Morkel and Philander. Even Cowan got a ton against them. I don't need to click on the cricinfo stat link as I have seen the attack first hand. It is very good but so is ours. The last time I saw this attack in South Africa with a batting line up also containing Kallis which mind you is an outstanding team they still were unable to brat Australia. I have said on several posts that South Africa are a deserving world number 1, I'm not ignorant I also know that you haven't beaten us in South Africa since the early 70's which includes the last two series where you were the number 1 team then, I just believe Australia with that history and a great bowling attack is eveery chance of continuing that trend.

  • adeng on January 2, 2014, 5:29 GMT

    @Shaggy076: Cricinfo has this wonderful function where you can look up statistics of a player - I suggest you do that with Aus bowling attack and compare it to Saf bowling. Look at the strike rate column - you will learn a lot. Johnson had a good series in 2009 and Saf will not write him off. What happened then? He's got confidence now after the Ashes, but I think the biggest question is whether it can be sustained before he is called the best bowler in the world by Aus... Talk about rose tinted glasses! Frankly, Saf should be more worried about his batting at the end of the innings! Ref to Clarke - he is a dangerous batsman and Saf should never underestimate him, but he is not the 'cricketer of the year', despite the award. I don't think I should really bother - it works in Saf favour if Aus comes here overconfident. Saf is NOT underestimating any team - this is cricket after all!

  • lillee4PM on January 2, 2014, 3:51 GMT

    "Posted by Srini_Chennai on (January 1, 2014, 14:53 GMT) One good series in home against a pathetic England suddenly makes Australia a world beaters? After all, this was the team before this series who were clueless how to win a test match. I can't wait for Australia to be smashed in SA. It'll be fun seeing Steyn and co ripping through the fragile Australian batting."

    Maybe maybe not, we'll wait and see. At the moment I'm enjoying Steyn and Co ripping through a fragile indian batting line-up!!

  • Cantbowlcantbat on January 2, 2014, 2:44 GMT

    Lots of comparisons to 1989. Contrary to popular belief, that was a fairly old team like the present Oz side. Alderman, Lawson, Hohns and Marsh all retired within the next 3 years with Jones, Merv Hughes and Border a year or so later, all before Oz beat WI to become unofficial world champions in 94/95. In that intervening period, Oz was probably No 2 or 3, about where they are now. The key to becoming No. 1 was their replacements for the retirees from the 89 team: M Waugh, Warne, McGrath, Slater et al. I think whether or not Oz regains No. 1 again depends not so much on the present team, but who will replace the older players like MJ, Harris, Rogers and Haddin. CA has to get that right, but based on past performance Sutherland and Co might botch it.

  • dinosaurus on January 2, 2014, 1:44 GMT

    @ adeng,

    Wait and see! I for one will not be at all surprised by a strong performance in SA. After all, Australia does have a better record in SA than SA.

  • jb633 on January 2, 2014, 1:20 GMT

    5-0 Aus, there is simply no other result possible in this game. This England squad is pathethic and the selections have been dreadful. Borthwick as our premier spinner, please what are you guys thinking.

  • Salmon89 on January 2, 2014, 1:10 GMT

    @ Stuart Meechan. Drop Watson? Are you serious! The same Watson who has scored 1 hundred, 1 50 & an unbeaten 83 in his last 3 Tests. Or are you saying these runs don't count because the hundred was scored when they were chasing quick runs, or the 83* was in a "dead" rubber or because the English side is rattled.

    Are you saying anyone would have scored runs. Unlikely - I'd love to say I would have scored runs, but they are still playing against quality players who are still getting Test batters out cheaply. The whole "runs don't count because they were made after the series was won" argument is ridiculous. Is it any easier just because a series is won. If that was the case, wouldn't more teams go on to whitewashes after winning a series? Yet there have only been about 6 or 7 5-0 whitewashes in history.

    And for those that criticise Watson's conversion rate, the great AB went nearly 4 years without a 100. Watson's first class record excluding tests shows 16 100s & 27 50s.

  • on January 1, 2014, 23:36 GMT

    @ Shaggy076 .... I think that we differ in opinion in regard to selection. So if Bailey score a 50 in the last test then he will continue to be selected despite his failures in the first four tests. If he was Maddinson or Lynn, who are both significantly younger than Bailey, you may have had my support. I just think that it is a great opportunity to get some youth into the team.

    @ one down .... Sorry about missing "recently" .... and I agree with what you wrote about Lehmann.

    @ wertas .... and I thought that I was the only one to remember that embarrassing declaration that almost lost the 5th Test.

  • on January 1, 2014, 22:48 GMT

    Mitchel Johnson has had a devastating series that is for sure, and Clarke, Warner and Haddin have batted well but I still think India and SA would threaten this current AUS side.

  • gogoldengreens on January 1, 2014, 22:42 GMT

    The best thing about this year has been that John Inverarity has not been on TV looking over his glasses in a condecending way at the public saying that he has to keep rotation policy in place...

    However if truely worried about player welfare it would be good to keep players like Watson out of the one dayers to freshen up his legs for South Africa... Drop Bailey for this test and place Doolan in and then put Watson in at 6 on his return & Doolan up to 3

    @adeng one good series for Mitchell Johnson he sure has had some shockers however I am sure that South African batsman recall the last time Michell played in Durban in this kind of form... Can you call the hospital and make sure that there is some Xray film on hand...

  • Greatest_Game on January 1, 2014, 21:41 GMT

    @ milepost wrote "SA threw the game in the first test ... Australia would never do such a thing."

    No, Aus are not capable of "doing such a thing." Aus would have lost, thrown in the towel, choked. Aus can't mount even an undemanding 4th innings chase. In Nottingham they bellied up 14 runs short, chasing only 311, a 19 year old rookie their best bat! At Chester-le-Street Aus fell 74 short chasing just 299; 2 abject failures against against Eng's limp attack. Pathetic really.

    In 2012 in Adelaide, SA kept Aus at bay for 148 overs, exhausting & demoralising them. Yet in Perth Aus made no attempt to chase the 4th inns target, to try to save the match & the series. They could not make a fist of it, & simply folded like a wet rag, knowing they were beaten. This on the same pitch where, on their previous tour, SA chased 414 for just 4 wickets - only 4 short of the world record.

    Aus have lost their backbone: bullies for too long, they are jellyfish now!

    Aus LOSE. South Africa DON'T!

    QED.

  • Cpt.Meanster on January 1, 2014, 21:20 GMT

    @xtrafalgarx: Of course, the Ashes must hold significance to Aussies and Poms. Cause, nobody else in the world of cricket cares about it. Asians, South Africans, West Indians, Kiwis etc are busy playing their own cricket. If you think the Ashes series is followed outside of the UK and Australia, you must be kidding. Even if it is,then most of the viewers are nationals of either the UK or Australia. Would Aussies or the English pay too much attention to India playing Pakistan ? I think we all know the answer to that question. Speaking of SA, I think SA are a better team than Australia. Australia will be definitely tested by some high quality fast bowling and a much superior batting line up. A young Indian team recently laid down the gauntlet to the no.1 test team and came away reasonably happy. Will this Aussie team have similar feelings following their tour to SA ? We shall see in a month's time.

  • Cpt.Meanster on January 1, 2014, 21:11 GMT

    "Unchangeables" ? Nice name. For a team that has so far feasted on England's lacklustre performances is now starting to become a wee bit arrogant. Hardly world beaters, this Aussie team are still home bullies. They cannot play spin on Indian pitches, struggle to the swinging ball in England and will be hit with a superior pace barrage in SA. A lot of boxes to tick for Pup and co. While I am not completely fazed by this Aussie performance, I do however recognize their brilliance in suppressing English egos. I hope England have learnt a lesson now from all their premature bragging; Ian Botham's 5-0 prediction anyone ? How have the tables turned !

  • Beertjie on January 1, 2014, 20:50 GMT

    @AussiePhoenix on (January 1, 2014, 17:36 GMT), playing Doolan at #6 is hardly looking to the next series in SA prematurely. There will be harder calls to make next month!

  • Shaggy076 on January 1, 2014, 20:41 GMT

    aderng; It's a couple of good series now surely you recall him smashing the proteas in 2009 on your home soil. Yes the Australian attack is equal of South Africa if not better, cant see Clarke making back to back double centuries against our attack.

  • on January 1, 2014, 20:40 GMT

    the non selection of Cameron White in the middle order in Tests mystifies me. is this Victorian hate? someone capable of repairing the innings if the top failed is important. Cameron could also bowl leg spin as a extra bowler. His experience in domestic cricket and a student of the late David Hooks should be sufficient to pick him uncontested. A reward for George Bailey for his heroics in India is commendable but lets look at the long term future of the squad.

  • Shaggy076 on January 1, 2014, 20:39 GMT

    Maddy20; I never claimed bragging rights just pointing out the flaws in the ICC rankings. Howe er, I did say England should have bragging rights over India. And after those games away we will be closer to determining the ICC rankings however, it will never be a true reflection unless they count the last series each side has played against one and other home and away. By the way we havent lost in South Africa since the early 70's. The last two series they have had the same very good side, but we came out on top in one and drew the other just a couple of years ago.

  • Greatest_Game on January 1, 2014, 20:35 GMT

    In reference to the Ashes, @ xtrafalgarx wrote, "They (sic) are the only constant in all of crickets (sic) history therefore they (sic) will always be relevant."

    The Ashes is a series played for a Trophy, nothing more, nothing less. The cricket is not always good, nor the matches exciting or relevant. Currently #5 is thrashing #3. After the series, the names will change, but they will still be #3 & #5. The only notable feature has been England's implosion & self-destruction, making the Aus team look far far better than it really is.

    The Ashes may be of importance to Aus & Eng, but to the cricketing world it now is just an endless, boring & overhyped squabble between two bog average teams. Eng, India & SA recently beat Aus and SA Pak & Aus recently beat Eng: such poor records the Ashes will not change!

    This Ashes is as relevant as two old drunks fighting in the corner. Lots of shouting, spit flying, but no blows landed. Someone, please, throw some water on them, for cricket's sake.

  • on January 1, 2014, 20:00 GMT

    saf has the best and balnce attack in the world..mitcel johnson is good but not as good..

  • Alexk400 on January 1, 2014, 18:26 GMT

    I wonder what bailey doing in this Test team. he is ok ODI player but not good for Test. England failed to cope with mitchell johnson short ball. That is only plus for aussies and may lehman stablized coaching helps. Aussies are not pointing fingers at themself like during arthur period. When you have matured top management , it shows.

  • AussiePhoenix on January 1, 2014, 17:36 GMT

    I hope they can go in unchanged. A reward for all their hard efforts. Sure it's not the best side ever, but it is balanced, everyone is contributing in different ways (the whole idea of TEAM!), and they are winning. And play the series out to its conclusion, rather than looking to the next in SA prematurely. Totally annihilating England so they remember to respect us, or even fear what we can do to them, is an important goal.

  • adeng on January 1, 2014, 17:07 GMT

    @wertas- 'Australia has equal or probably slightly better bowling attack than South Africa' Dude! Are you for real. This was by far the funniest comment of 2014 so far. One good series for Mitchell Johnson does not mean Aus has a better bowling attack than SAf!

  • on January 1, 2014, 16:51 GMT

    Srini Chennai: aus are hardly world beaters, but its surely impressive that they have thrashed an english team with a mightily impressive record before this series:KP, Swann, Cook, Broad, Prior...But I look forward to hosting India down under, who tend to fare badly on tour, to say the least.

  • on January 1, 2014, 16:45 GMT

    An unchanged side is a mistake. There is no need to tinker with the bowling lineup but for me, Australia needs to drop Bailey and maybe even Watson and try younger batsmen with a view to the future.!

  • wertas on January 1, 2014, 15:35 GMT

    @one-done,

    Could you please remind me that has happened during the last test during Ashes series in England this summer? Clark has shot himself in the foot by declaring and setting target. And what happened next? He became afraid to loose the match as England was clearly on top and only bad light and umpires saved Australia from humilating loss. So all bashers stop comparing South Africa with Australia. South Africa made reasonable decision to take draw instead of possible win. Yes, it was probably dissapointing for majority fans, but they came back from dead & burried situation. Who would come back in such situation? Probobly neither Australia, nor England with current batting line-up. Australia has equal or probably slightly better bowling attack than South Africa, but you CAN NOT compare batting departments as South Africa is way better team.

  • Srini_Indian on January 1, 2014, 14:53 GMT

    One good series in home against a pathetic England suddenly makes australia a world beaters? After all, this was the team before this series who were clueless how to win a test match. I can't wait for australia to be smashed in SA. It'll be fun seeing Steyn and co ripping through the fragile australian batting.

  • din7 on January 1, 2014, 13:18 GMT

    Ok so aus dont want to bulid the team and select waste players like bailey again and again? will be really disappointed if they go with the same side! their battin is still brittle so just for the sake of unchanged side they dont want to give chance to doolan..may be they might have even selected lynn..anyways atleast they shld give chance to doolan than selectin bailey again and again..prevention is better than cure..it seems bailey is goin to SA and evry1 knows hes goin to fail there..(hope he proves me wrong) so they'll bring som1 right in in SA? eng would never got root,stokes if they hadnt given them a chance..why aus are so scared to give chance to youngsters not evry1 of them will fail! just want aus to be back at top of rankings but this approach is really poor!

  • maddy20 on January 1, 2014, 12:51 GMT

    @Shaggy076 India is gonna play a dozen tests overseas this year, before we play a home test again. You would also do well to remember that Eng thrashed you in England and we thrashed you in India. So you do not have the bragging rights yet. We will talk again after you are dismantled by the Proteas in SA!

  • one-down on January 1, 2014, 12:38 GMT

    @Joseph Langford: If you will note the first sentence of my post read thus: "Many teams do not show the cohesiveness and camaraderie that the Australian cricket team has displayed in the RECENT series." The atmosphere that prevailed in the team that toured India and England just before the Ashes began in the UK was an aberration! And yes; as you have identified it came down to man-management... Mickey Arthur was no "leader of men" as were Keith Miller, Richie Benaud, Les Favell, Ian Chappell, Allan Border... Boof Lehmann led South Australia well and learnt his craft under David Hookes; who learnt it under Chappell who played under Favell... and he has represented his country as a Test cricketer but was unfortunate to come along at a time when there were so many other good batsmen around... which is why perhaps he understands Chris Rogers' the best! Even a 'scholarly' coach such as John Buchanan did not go around asking cricketers on tour to hand in their 'home-work' :))

  • xtrafalgarx on January 1, 2014, 12:26 GMT

    @Proteaman: How wonderful, but what has SA got to do with the Ashes? With all due respect, we couldn't care less what you are doing over there, or who you are playing. We are playing the ashes, which will always be of utmost importance to the Australians.

    They are the only constant in all of crickets history therefore they will always be relevant. Over time the rankings may change and SA may find itself at the bottom of the rankings, who will care about SA then? But with the ashes, Australia and Eng could be dead last but it still holds significance.

  • one-down on January 1, 2014, 12:16 GMT

    @ProteaMan: The ICC rankings are a joke as is the case with most rankings... the mark of a good player/team is their consistency & how they face up to the opposition... regardless of the conditions. Re.the 1st Ind.v SA test, agreed it was a v.good Test match but I highly doubt given a similar situation if Australia would have thrown in the towel as Philander & Steyn did... and both of them are quite handy with the bat... it proves what the rest of the world already knows... SA do tend to choke... though, in this case they did not collapse... maybe this was because their opposition did not have the nous to inflict more pressure on them... oh right; and that was the #2 ranked country they were playing :) one whose bowling attack is much weaker than any warm English beer! What a pathetic spectacle... no wonder the home crowd was booing... surely you cannot be proud of that lot!!!

  • on January 1, 2014, 12:05 GMT

    Time to disband the First Class competition then Australia because its all over for those playing domestically to make it to the top level

    dont need to waste your time with it now

  • whofriggincares on January 1, 2014, 11:58 GMT

    @proteaman, allow me to get this off my chest: it wouldn't matter if England was 8th and Australia was 7th the ashes will always be a big deal to our nation and so will always be front and centre in the local media. I haven't read anything that implied that this was a clash between anything other than 3rd and 5th ranked nations. I wonder if playing us will actually get bums on seats in your stadiums as playing the 2nd ranked nation didn't exactly bring them out of the woodwork. Playing the saffers has always been important to us (it even took over from the ashes as our biggest series for awhile IMO). Our boys will be up for the fight and will have to play out of their skins to beat you, but it is possible and most importantly I have no doubt that the aussie setup believes they can knock you off. As I am sure you are aware wins don't come easy for you guys against us in your own backyard. Really looking forward to this series cant wait for it to begin.

  • milepost on January 1, 2014, 11:32 GMT

    @ProteaMan, SA threw the game in the first test, it wasn't great, it was a blight on the game. What an embarrassment for SA fans. Australia would never do such a thing.

  • zzby on January 1, 2014, 11:15 GMT

    Moeen Ali should get chance,similiar players such as Jadeja,peterson,permaul,herath are playing test cricket for thier respective teams . Why not to give him a go????

  • Shaggy076 on January 1, 2014, 10:53 GMT

    Joseph Langford; Any side in the world can improve there batting, our batting is no where near where it was in the 90/00's however, Im not sure we have the players available to improve it by much if at all. At this stage Bailey hasnt cemented his spot but the others have and cant see why we would not give Bailey another chance to cement his spot given the position we are in, keeping the same team together is always good for morale as well.

  • Shaggy076 on January 1, 2014, 10:50 GMT

    Proteas; Im not sure why you find it hard to believe the Australian media is interested in AUstralian cricket, Im sure your South African media has focused on your series. As for the ICC rankings the system is severely flawed and only depends on who you have played in the last 2 seasons ie our 4-0 victory at home of india is not counted. South Africa are a deserved #1, but india are a false #2 as they have avoided playing a lot of tests away from home soil. As for you bragging about the recent series both us and England whitewashed India the last time they left the safety of there shores and we are very surprised you were only able to win 1-0.

  • siddhartha87 on January 1, 2014, 10:18 GMT

    good to see Aussies bounce back from 0-4 and 0-3 losses in early 2013.Botham predicted 0-10 for Aussies.N0w they are 4-3 up.Aussie fought hard in English summer but England are looking like minnows.I am sensing the return of Aussie domination.Their real test will be in South Africa.That will be SOuth Africa's test as well as they failed to beat the Aussies in their last two home series.

  • on January 1, 2014, 10:03 GMT

    @ one-down .... the behaviour that you speak of certainly wasn't evident in the Australian Team 5-mths ago. Terrible selection and leadership was emcumbering the team and, I believe, Boof has worked a minor miracle to turn this around in such a short time. As my Dad used to say .... Winners are grinners.

    @ Proteaman .... I concur and I am sick to death to hearing TV commentators referring to one Australian batsman as "the best batsman in the world". I doubt that the Australian Team will benefit from the numerous amount of dropped catches as they on this tour, but the SA Tour now looks far more interesting than it did 6-weeks ago.

  • MrKricket on January 1, 2014, 9:55 GMT

    With all the SA boosting that goes on around here it's a wonder they get such dismal crowds. Even the last Test of the great JK had pretty ordinary crowds. Let's hope they turn up for the Aus Tests. Would love for Aus to win but I wouldn't bet on it. Batting needs to improve by several degrees yet. Here's hoping. Might be a low scoring series.

  • ProteaMan on January 1, 2014, 9:27 GMT

    Allow me to get something off my chest. Yes, the Ashes tour is and will always be one of the great sporting events on the sports calender, so one can expect much coverage in the media, especially in Australia, where England is heading for a white wash in the series. But, all you sport writers in Australia, this was NOT a contest between the number 1 and 2 teams in the world as one can read between the lines of the oh so one sided reporting in the Oz press. The series between the ICC ranked no ONE and TWO took place in South Africa between South Africa and India. What a series it has been. The first test on the Wanderers was seen by many senior cricket reporters as one of the best in the history of the game where South Africa pulled it out of the fire and needed just 8 runs to win, ended in a draw. Then the thrashing of India in Durban by 10 wickets. You guys may well also look at the ICC ratings for the number one batsman and bowler. Number 1 batsman: AB de Villiers, Bowlers 1&2

  • one-down on January 1, 2014, 9:24 GMT

    contd.from prev.comment... We struck up a conversation and I took the chance to snap a couple of 'happy snaps'. There they sat like a couple of schoolboys out on a day trip with Cahill teasing Carney as he was "not familiar with using a 'hi-tech' DSLR" (Cahill's words). One was immediately recognisable as a top player at Everton (before Cahill went over to the US) and the other playing with a much lesser known club (Blackpool). Yet, they seemed at ease with each other and looked happy sitting there chatting… that's how it seems to be with the Australian cricket team… they play for each other at the same time they represent Australia with skill, passion and a lot of determination! Ask Nasser Hussain about Bichel's performance when Australia seemed down and out in a WC match a while back!

  • one-down on January 1, 2014, 9:23 GMT

    Many teams do not show the cohesiveness and camaraderie that the Australian cricket team has displayed in the recent series. At different times when it has mattered, the person involved has played his part perfectly; be it when batting, bowling or most importantly fielding! Is this particularly an Australian trait? I remember an instance in the departure area of Munich airport (late 2010) when waiting for my flight back to Adelaide. When wandering around, I suddenly spotted Tim Cahill (ex Everton) & David Carney (I recognised his face but could not remember his name!). They had just lost a match in Cairo (Aus.v Egypt) quite badly and were on their way to the UK. Both of them were just sitting on a bench and I could not help but approach them to have a chat. contd...

  • milepost on January 1, 2014, 9:21 GMT

    5-0. England will rattle the changes and it won't make any difference other than the new guys having a whitewash on their CV's. Australia will come harder than ever and have shown they are a far superior side. England have shown that there's no limitations to how poor they can be. It's a tough ask for supporters and with the Barmy Army selling off their tickets at record rates on their Facebook page I doubt their will be more than a handful of supporters at the SCG to cheer them in to their whitewash. I mean even the most ardent supporters here disappeared matches ago, @FFL for example. It's no winder they are in hiding.

  • on January 1, 2014, 9:10 GMT

    Anyone who thinks that the Australian batting line up couldn't be improved is kidding themselves.

  • VivGilchrist on January 1, 2014, 9:01 GMT

    @BounceTrack_BULLY, Sorry but How is a 10 wicket loss being competitive?

  • DragonCricketer on January 1, 2014, 8:54 GMT

    After such a bad tour of England and a long rebuilding process its great to see the Aussies jump from No. 5 to No. 3 Test team. I think the Aussies will be number 1 again in 18 months. Dont know what England should do. They still have world class players that are still young or in the middle of their careers. Add 3 or 4 new players that gel well and lift the side and they could be a force again in 12 months.

  • on January 1, 2014, 8:49 GMT

    Give James Faulkner a chance, Cricket Australia!

  • BounceTrack_BULLY on January 1, 2014, 7:42 GMT

    This is not the end for England. Hope they will come back strongly. Happy for Australia though! They are playing top cricket now. Loot at Indian Team, Couple of white wash abroad. Still among top 3 in all formats through home advantage. In fact we were competitive in SA as well.

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  • BounceTrack_BULLY on January 1, 2014, 7:42 GMT

    This is not the end for England. Hope they will come back strongly. Happy for Australia though! They are playing top cricket now. Loot at Indian Team, Couple of white wash abroad. Still among top 3 in all formats through home advantage. In fact we were competitive in SA as well.

  • on January 1, 2014, 8:49 GMT

    Give James Faulkner a chance, Cricket Australia!

  • DragonCricketer on January 1, 2014, 8:54 GMT

    After such a bad tour of England and a long rebuilding process its great to see the Aussies jump from No. 5 to No. 3 Test team. I think the Aussies will be number 1 again in 18 months. Dont know what England should do. They still have world class players that are still young or in the middle of their careers. Add 3 or 4 new players that gel well and lift the side and they could be a force again in 12 months.

  • VivGilchrist on January 1, 2014, 9:01 GMT

    @BounceTrack_BULLY, Sorry but How is a 10 wicket loss being competitive?

  • on January 1, 2014, 9:10 GMT

    Anyone who thinks that the Australian batting line up couldn't be improved is kidding themselves.

  • milepost on January 1, 2014, 9:21 GMT

    5-0. England will rattle the changes and it won't make any difference other than the new guys having a whitewash on their CV's. Australia will come harder than ever and have shown they are a far superior side. England have shown that there's no limitations to how poor they can be. It's a tough ask for supporters and with the Barmy Army selling off their tickets at record rates on their Facebook page I doubt their will be more than a handful of supporters at the SCG to cheer them in to their whitewash. I mean even the most ardent supporters here disappeared matches ago, @FFL for example. It's no winder they are in hiding.

  • one-down on January 1, 2014, 9:23 GMT

    Many teams do not show the cohesiveness and camaraderie that the Australian cricket team has displayed in the recent series. At different times when it has mattered, the person involved has played his part perfectly; be it when batting, bowling or most importantly fielding! Is this particularly an Australian trait? I remember an instance in the departure area of Munich airport (late 2010) when waiting for my flight back to Adelaide. When wandering around, I suddenly spotted Tim Cahill (ex Everton) & David Carney (I recognised his face but could not remember his name!). They had just lost a match in Cairo (Aus.v Egypt) quite badly and were on their way to the UK. Both of them were just sitting on a bench and I could not help but approach them to have a chat. contd...

  • one-down on January 1, 2014, 9:24 GMT

    contd.from prev.comment... We struck up a conversation and I took the chance to snap a couple of 'happy snaps'. There they sat like a couple of schoolboys out on a day trip with Cahill teasing Carney as he was "not familiar with using a 'hi-tech' DSLR" (Cahill's words). One was immediately recognisable as a top player at Everton (before Cahill went over to the US) and the other playing with a much lesser known club (Blackpool). Yet, they seemed at ease with each other and looked happy sitting there chatting… that's how it seems to be with the Australian cricket team… they play for each other at the same time they represent Australia with skill, passion and a lot of determination! Ask Nasser Hussain about Bichel's performance when Australia seemed down and out in a WC match a while back!

  • ProteaMan on January 1, 2014, 9:27 GMT

    Allow me to get something off my chest. Yes, the Ashes tour is and will always be one of the great sporting events on the sports calender, so one can expect much coverage in the media, especially in Australia, where England is heading for a white wash in the series. But, all you sport writers in Australia, this was NOT a contest between the number 1 and 2 teams in the world as one can read between the lines of the oh so one sided reporting in the Oz press. The series between the ICC ranked no ONE and TWO took place in South Africa between South Africa and India. What a series it has been. The first test on the Wanderers was seen by many senior cricket reporters as one of the best in the history of the game where South Africa pulled it out of the fire and needed just 8 runs to win, ended in a draw. Then the thrashing of India in Durban by 10 wickets. You guys may well also look at the ICC ratings for the number one batsman and bowler. Number 1 batsman: AB de Villiers, Bowlers 1&2

  • MrKricket on January 1, 2014, 9:55 GMT

    With all the SA boosting that goes on around here it's a wonder they get such dismal crowds. Even the last Test of the great JK had pretty ordinary crowds. Let's hope they turn up for the Aus Tests. Would love for Aus to win but I wouldn't bet on it. Batting needs to improve by several degrees yet. Here's hoping. Might be a low scoring series.