The Ashes 2013

Don't write off Australia - Gough

Andrew McGlashan

May 12, 2013

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Darren Gough, May 12, 2013
Darren Gough: ' If they can get runs on the board, England will have a heck of a fight on their hands' © Last Man Stands
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Darren Gough was at his best in the heat of an Ashes confrontation, and he was often central to the rare occasions England managed to overcome Australia during the 1990s, but he is not about to write off the current generation, ahead of the first of this year's back-to-back series.

Australia's 16-man squad was met with reactions ranging from ridicule to dismissiveness in some quarters. Even down under there is more trepidation about the forthcoming series than since the late 1980s. But Gough, who took 74 wickets in 17 Ashes Tests, believes the strength of their fast bowling resources gives them a chance in England.

"I'm not going to be as critical as some people are," he told ESPNcricinfo. "Their bowling attack is very strong and the fast bowlers are superbly talented. What's interesting to me is that most of them are coming over with the A team to have a little roll and I think that's very important. Last time they bowled too short so they'll be able to learn the length to bowl."

There has been little doubt of late that Australia are building a formidable pace unit - although keeping players like James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc and Ryan Harris fit for extended periods is proving a challenge, while Pat Cummins continues to lurch from injury to injury. But without support from the top order, they are often going to be in the position of trying to keep the side in matches.

Gough suspects that some of the batsmen on the trip will not be given much more of an opportunity to show they can handle Test cricket, but added that the decision to bolster the squad with the experience of Chris Rogers and Brad Haddin could prove a shrewd move.

"These guys have an opportunity," he said. "They had a poor series in India, got beaten by South Africa, and are now coming to England with a lot of them fighting for a spot in the Ashes back home. If they can get runs on the board, England will have a heck of a fight on their hands."

"They've realised you can't pick players who aren't ready. Against bowlers like Anderson, Broad, Finn and Swann you need some experience. Rogers has been a fantastic player for many years and Haddin still deserves to be Australia's No. 1."

The key to Australia's run-scoring potential is the captain, Michael Clarke, who has enjoyed a phenomenal run of form over the last six months. Beyond his batting, however, Gough sees an intriguing match-up between him and Alastair Cook as captains. Trent Bridge will be Cook's first Ashes match as a captain, while Clarke first lead Australia in the Sydney Test in 2011.

"Clarke's from the Shane Warne mould of captaincy. He likes to adventurous, sometimes a little controversial, he's a very attacking captain which will be vital. The head-to-head with Alastair Cook, who is a different style of captain, will be fascinating. I think Clarke has handled things well so far, especially India with some of the trouble they had - I thought he came out as someone with a strong personality."

ESPNcricinfo have teamed up with Last Man Stands to offer one of our lucky readers the chance to play a celebrity LMS match at Lord's nursery ground on Friday May 24. One team will be captained by Darren Gough, the other team by Ian Harvey. To be in with a chance of winning this unique opportunity, register a team to play Last Man Stands before May 17 and enter promotional code CRICINFO at www.lastmanstands.com

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by ScottStevo on (May 18, 2013, 17:20 GMT)

@WeFinishThis, possibly he'll only be useful in T20. He's very medium pace and has a good slower ball...sounds like a limited overs bowler to me.....I hope we don't get to see them slug it out as I wouldn't like to see him in the side. Don't get me wrong, if he is chosen, I'll back him all the way and hope he does rip through....just don't see that as a likely result and would much prefer to see Starc in the side as I think he's a much better bowler...

Posted by ballsintherightareas on (May 16, 2013, 22:51 GMT)

Sorry, cancel my last post. Wrong stats.

Here are the correct ones, for all bowlers 1980 - present:

Aus overall: 30.06 Aus in Aus: 28.87 Aus in Eng: 30.23

Eng overall: 34.41 Eng in Aus: 37.36 Eng in Eng: 33.54

And while I'm at it, here are the batting figures:

Aus overall: 37.20 Aus in Aus: 39.33 Aus in Eng: 37.68

Eng overall: 32.73 Eng in Aus: 30.10 Eng in Eng: 34.21

So there is a definite home advantage for both teams, but not nowhere near as large a difference as I'd thought based on home vs away. I still learned something today. Will stick by my Eng 2 -1 Aus prediction.

Posted by ballsintherightareas on (May 16, 2013, 22:32 GMT)

@Lyndon McPaul... Interesting theory. Here are some stats:

Aggregate bowling average of Aussie players, 1980 - present: Ave overall: 33.40 Ave in Aus: 33.55 Ave in England: 33.65

This includes all types of bowler, not just pace bowlers, but still as the majority of bowlers are pace bowlers, it does suggest my earlier assertion was wrong.

And for England:

Aggregate bowling average of England players, 1980 - present: Average overall: 33.55 Average in Aus: 33.49 Average in Eng: 33.88

I have to say I'm quite astonished by this. Thanks for prompting me to look up these stats. I learned something today.

I'm changing my prediction to....Eng 2-1 Aus. Should be a pretty close series, but England should just edge it.

Posted by Meety on (May 15, 2013, 4:04 GMT)

@ by oscoli67 on (May 14, 2013, 10:33 GMT) "...compare test career wickets taken, average and strike rate between Swann & Lyon - you'll find your fodder..." - rather odd response. Surely you must realise that wickets taken, is a product of longevity & NOT directly related to quality. Bear in mind that Lyon has NOT played Bangladesh (Swann has) & during his time, mostly bowled behind a wicket taking pace attack. I chose WORST averages against teams - as that would be the most relevant to deciding who has been "fodder" more often. As for "...what's Swann's average in England against left handers who..." - a little bit touchy aren't you! LOL!

Posted by Wefinishthis on (May 15, 2013, 0:15 GMT)

ScottStevo - Faulkner's 50 over record is far worse than his FC record, whilst Starc's is the opposite so if anything, it's Starc who is heading towards being the Bracken-like short form specialist. Also may I reiterate, he's a bowler, not an all-rounder. In FC he averages less than 30 with the bat and he's never even scored a century (in any form) so he's definitely not a batsman. Either way, the good news for this discussion is that they're both in the squad so they can 'duke' it out and see which one really does perform better in a series that matters.

Posted by   on (May 14, 2013, 22:59 GMT)

@ballsintherightareas...love your analysis balls! (in the right areas of course)...very clever. As far as the away bowling averages are concerned however;I would back Australia's bowlers to perform considerably better than their general away average for the simple reason that England offers the most swing and seam friendly conditions in the world unlike places such as India and Sri Lanka. You could almost guaruntee that bowlers such as bird and Harris, as stump to stump bowlers who get prodigious swing and seam movement, would perform even better than their home averages. I also think if they can score around their batting average consistently in the first innings that might be enough because of a bowling attack of which when all the right players are combined (uninjured) rival South Africa's in terms of potency.

Posted by ScottStevo on (May 14, 2013, 11:41 GMT)

@WeFinishThis, You're being very harsh on a bloke who has played in 9 tests, sporadically. Also, think you'll find he took 6 for against SA when nobody else was taking wickets and we were getting panned and 8 wickets for the test, the only one he played in. His first 2 tests were against NZ, so you shouldn't really expect the bloke to be taking 5 fors, his debut wasn't great, but he bowled well in the second against NZ. He single handedly won us the test against SL. So, I think, for a young bloke, he's doing very well indeed. On top of which, it's pretty clear to see that he's got all the skills to be very good and I quite fancy him in English conditions, especially against someone like Cook. it's clear to see that he has genuine potential. Faulkner on the hand has the potential to become N Bracken MkII...limited overs specialist. He should be last in the pecking order for a place in the side and I'd have preferred we'd taken an extra bat rather than this allrounder pipe dream...

Posted by oscoli67 on (May 14, 2013, 10:33 GMT)

@ meety, you choose your statistics with great care, compare test career wickets taken, average and strike rate between Swann & Lyon - you'll find your fodder. A quick question for you, "what's Swann's average in England against left handers who are ....... past it (Rogers) ........gung ho T20 specialists (Warner) ....... clueless against spin {and pace} (Hughes) ..... totally untested (Khawaja) ....... and average to be polite (Cowan) ........... I'll tell you in September !!

Posted by Meety on (May 14, 2013, 0:06 GMT)

@ashes61 on (May 13, 2013, 19:31 GMT) - you sound a lot like English fans circa May 1989....... @oscoli67 on (May 13, 2013, 10:26 GMT) -Lyon's worst average against a country is 40.13 (v Sri Lanka), Swann's worse average is 40.13 (v Oz). Against the #1 side in the world (SA), - Lyon has a better average. Nothing to suggest that Lyon has been fodder more than Swann. == == == It is worth noting that in 2010/11 Ashes, Oz had several bowlers who were returning from injuries - Siddle, Hilfy & Bollinger. Oz's bowling under performed, & were ground down by England. This time around - Oz have still got question marks over the fitness of their bowlers, but so do England. Fortunately for England, they have plenty of time to guage where the fitness level of Swann & Bresnan will be at.

Posted by Wefinishthis on (May 13, 2013, 22:34 GMT)

ScottStevo - Cleaning up the tail isn't that important. Taking care of England's quality top order is. Starc, after 17 innings is almost performing at I.Sharma levels of incompetence. He was almost useless against NZ, good against India in seam-friendly Perth, expensive against SA in Perth, poor against WI, useless against SL in Sydney and pathetic in the first innings against SL in Hobart, though he cleaned up the tail in the 2nd innings. He was of course absolutely appalling in India. Not to mention that he has been very mediocre at FC level where the conditions always suit him and batting is poor. He has no accuracy or seam control which is everything in bowling, but we shall see if he can improve and at least try to average less than 25 this England series. Faulkner has done absolutely everything asked of him in FC cricket so far and he was outstanding under pressure in the finals. Also Faulkner is a bowler, he should never bat above no.8.

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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.
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