The Ashes 2013 May 22, 2013

Australia eye England swing with interest

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Michael Clarke knows his men will enter the Ashes as underdogs but they have taken some heart from the way England's batsmen struggled against New Zealand's swing bowlers in last week's Lord's Test. A group of Australia's Ashes and Champions Trophy squad members gathered in Sydney on Wednesday for a farewell event ahead of their departure for the one-day tournament and the battle for the urn that follows in July and August.

Among the group were several key members of the pace attack, including Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson and Ryan Harris, upon whom Australia's Ashes hopes will largely rely. Starc said that during an Australian training camp at Brisbane's Centre of Excellence over the past couple of weeks the team had discussed the right lengths to bowl in England, and had noted the way England were knocked over for 232 and 213 at Lord's by Trent Boult, Neil Wagner and Tim Southee.

"I think most of our guys actually watched that Test, so some good signs for the quicks over there," Starc told reporters in Sydney. "It was nice to see the Pommies struggle against the left-arm bowlers, I can tell you that much. There's some things we can take away from the English batsmen and the way they got out there.

"Obviously, the ball is going to swing a bit more in England ... but the key we can take out of that Test was the length the bowlers bowled and the length that troubled the batsmen most. So that's something we looked at closely as a group and spoke about in Brisbane."

However, the Australians could also be forgiven for some trepidation at witnessing the destruction wreaked by Stuart Broad and James Anderson, especially the 7 for 44 that Broad collected on the final day as New Zealand were skittled for 68. Australia's recent history against the swinging and seaming ball features some catastrophic innings, including their 47 in Cape Town, 88 against Pakistan at Leeds, and 98 on the first day of the 2010-11 Boxing Day Ashes Test at the MCG.

"If somebody bowls an amazing spell, you can get knocked over but if you've trained and prepared as well as you possibly can, you're giving yourself the best chance," Clarke said. "It seemed that Stuart Broad in the second innings bowled a pretty good spell so England deserved a lot of credit. We've got to try and find a way to combat that. I think [time of year] definitely makes a difference. I saw a forecast the other day that said it was 14 degrees in London. I'm hoping it's not 14 degrees there when we're playing our first Test match."

All the same, the Australian batsmen have plenty to prove after their dismal showing on the Test tour of India in February and March, when Clarke and Steven Smith were the only specialist batsmen to average better than 35. Notably, there was a worrying lack of runs from David Warner, Phillip Hughes and Shane Watson, all of whom averaged less than 25 and all of whom are part of the Ashes squad.

Not surprisingly, given Australia's miseries in India and England's current ranking as the No.2 Test team in the world, Alastair Cook's men will enter the series as firm favourites. There is a growing feeling that the series could be closer than it appeared it would be a few months ago, although that will largely come down to the way Australia's batsmen handle the conditions.

"I think it's a fair indication of where both teams are at," Clarke said of England being favourites. "England have a lot of experience. A lot of the guys have been involved in Ashes series before and they're playing some really good cricket. Our recent series in India wasn't nearly as good as we would have liked so I accept that we are the underdogs but we'll be doing everything in our power to have success.

"Our goal is to win the series, we know it's going to be tough, but we're going to have a red-hot crack at hopefully winning the Ashes for the Australian people. The batters know we didn't perform as well as we needed, we didn't make enough runs and we are certainly accountable for our performances. We know that if we can bat well as a unit, that will give our young, talented fast bowlers every opportunity to take 20 wickets."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • I-Like-Cricket on May 22, 2013, 14:35 GMT

    I should also probably add that my team would be:

    Warner, Rogers, Hughes, Watson, Clarke, Cowan, Haddin, Harris, Pattinson, Bird, Starc.

    Unfortunately for Sidds I just think Patto is the one to provide the aggression and the fire to this Aussie unit and the other 3, well they can bowl swing as good as anyone in the world. I'd probably almost take Harris and Bird into a test before I took Jimmy Anderson (if that selection issue were possible and provided they could all stay fit). Hughes had a tremendous limited overs series in England last year and a very solid County stint to add to that and deserves to retain his spot. Rogers is the 3rd leading run scorer in CC at the moment. Warner now has a few big reasons to fire up and make runs. Cowan at 6 because he is perfectly capable of playing the aggressor if need be but should still be able to play his natural game. Watto deserves one last chance and simply if he doesn't perform, bring in Faulkner because I can't see him doing any worse.

  • VillageBlacksmith on May 26, 2013, 9:02 GMT

    ''we're going to have a red-hot crack''... Im sure you will michael...

  • TallHawk on May 24, 2013, 15:28 GMT

    I saw an article that Trott, Pietersen, Cook and Bell all feature in the top-50 all-time list for England based on Test-match averages (all circa 50). Joe Root will make that list one day too, you guys are gonna hear a lot about him over the next decade, in fact over the next six months! Throw in player-of-the-year Matt Prior and the quality of Anderson and Swann and you may as well not bother showing up. Home and away Ashes series wins will take England above Australia in the all-time Series wins list.

  • Jagger on May 24, 2013, 13:34 GMT

    You blokes who push for the selection of Khawaja - I just can't understand it. If he couldn't score a run against the Kiwi's & ODI's in Oz while at the top of his game, what makes you so sure he'll succeed against the Poms in England? Give me a break.

  • RandyOZ on May 23, 2013, 18:11 GMT

    We should be opening with Warner and Rogers. The line up is obvious: Rogers, Warner, Khawaja, Hughes, Clarke, Watson, Haddin, Pattinson, Starc/Lyon, Bird, Harris

  • on May 23, 2013, 13:56 GMT

    @ indiasux

    I think the Aussies will be as joyful as kids at Christmas time! Look at how England buckled under a bowling attack full of guys that averaged over 30 with SRs about 60. Now change that for a set of guys who average in the mid 20's with SRs of mid-40s going into the best seam bowling conditions around! The bowling alone obviously won't deliver victory on a platter, but it is truly baffling how the English can rationalise away the set of absolutely brilliant bowling figures the way they do. I accept the English batting is of better quality, why can't they admit that our pace squad is likely to cause them severe headaches?

  • indiasux on May 23, 2013, 12:59 GMT

    Looking at how Anderson and Broad bowled NZ out at Lords,,,will sent shivers down Aus spines... I think it will be a walk in the park for Eng, if Anderson and Broad continue with their form..

  • it_happened_last_in_2001. on May 23, 2013, 10:40 GMT

    Last Sunday at Lords was a good pointer for the upcoming ashes. England's batting can be pressured for sure, but if you're looking for a team who is likely to be rolled over in a session and a half for under 100 then it can only be Australia. Clarke averages 46 in England, there'll be no double and triple centuries on these pitches for him. I appreciate that Australia have a good bowling attack but I just can't see them scoring a run more than England over 2 innings.

  • Biggus on May 23, 2013, 9:43 GMT

    @5wombats-Fancy meeting you here eh? Yes indeed I'm in Perth, and as for our chances in the Ashes go, I think this one's a goner. A couple of years ago I felt that we would lose this series, but be a fair chance in the return series on our home turf. Now I'm not so sure, I see little in the way of 'proper' batsmen on the way up through our once exemplary first class system, I'm bewildered at the fragility of our bowlers, and find the selectors' infatuation with bits and pieces players similarly baffling. Whilst we're not yet at the point where one might declare, "It's worse than that, he's dead Jim!", the patient is in a coma and shows no signs of leaping to life any time soon. I do think Rogers is a good selection but, and it pains my Aussie heart to say this, I think your chaps will rule the Ashes roost for a little while yet, barring divine intervention or witchcraft and/or voodoo dolls. C'est la vie my friend, swings and roundabouts, 'twas always the way, to the winner the spoils.

  • poms_have_short_memories on May 23, 2013, 8:05 GMT

    If Jackson Bird can perform the same role that Terry Alderman did in 1981 and 1989 it will be quite an interesting series with Starc, Pattinson and Harris/Siddle as 145kph+ muscle as backup.

  • I-Like-Cricket on May 22, 2013, 14:35 GMT

    I should also probably add that my team would be:

    Warner, Rogers, Hughes, Watson, Clarke, Cowan, Haddin, Harris, Pattinson, Bird, Starc.

    Unfortunately for Sidds I just think Patto is the one to provide the aggression and the fire to this Aussie unit and the other 3, well they can bowl swing as good as anyone in the world. I'd probably almost take Harris and Bird into a test before I took Jimmy Anderson (if that selection issue were possible and provided they could all stay fit). Hughes had a tremendous limited overs series in England last year and a very solid County stint to add to that and deserves to retain his spot. Rogers is the 3rd leading run scorer in CC at the moment. Warner now has a few big reasons to fire up and make runs. Cowan at 6 because he is perfectly capable of playing the aggressor if need be but should still be able to play his natural game. Watto deserves one last chance and simply if he doesn't perform, bring in Faulkner because I can't see him doing any worse.

  • VillageBlacksmith on May 26, 2013, 9:02 GMT

    ''we're going to have a red-hot crack''... Im sure you will michael...

  • TallHawk on May 24, 2013, 15:28 GMT

    I saw an article that Trott, Pietersen, Cook and Bell all feature in the top-50 all-time list for England based on Test-match averages (all circa 50). Joe Root will make that list one day too, you guys are gonna hear a lot about him over the next decade, in fact over the next six months! Throw in player-of-the-year Matt Prior and the quality of Anderson and Swann and you may as well not bother showing up. Home and away Ashes series wins will take England above Australia in the all-time Series wins list.

  • Jagger on May 24, 2013, 13:34 GMT

    You blokes who push for the selection of Khawaja - I just can't understand it. If he couldn't score a run against the Kiwi's & ODI's in Oz while at the top of his game, what makes you so sure he'll succeed against the Poms in England? Give me a break.

  • RandyOZ on May 23, 2013, 18:11 GMT

    We should be opening with Warner and Rogers. The line up is obvious: Rogers, Warner, Khawaja, Hughes, Clarke, Watson, Haddin, Pattinson, Starc/Lyon, Bird, Harris

  • on May 23, 2013, 13:56 GMT

    @ indiasux

    I think the Aussies will be as joyful as kids at Christmas time! Look at how England buckled under a bowling attack full of guys that averaged over 30 with SRs about 60. Now change that for a set of guys who average in the mid 20's with SRs of mid-40s going into the best seam bowling conditions around! The bowling alone obviously won't deliver victory on a platter, but it is truly baffling how the English can rationalise away the set of absolutely brilliant bowling figures the way they do. I accept the English batting is of better quality, why can't they admit that our pace squad is likely to cause them severe headaches?

  • indiasux on May 23, 2013, 12:59 GMT

    Looking at how Anderson and Broad bowled NZ out at Lords,,,will sent shivers down Aus spines... I think it will be a walk in the park for Eng, if Anderson and Broad continue with their form..

  • it_happened_last_in_2001. on May 23, 2013, 10:40 GMT

    Last Sunday at Lords was a good pointer for the upcoming ashes. England's batting can be pressured for sure, but if you're looking for a team who is likely to be rolled over in a session and a half for under 100 then it can only be Australia. Clarke averages 46 in England, there'll be no double and triple centuries on these pitches for him. I appreciate that Australia have a good bowling attack but I just can't see them scoring a run more than England over 2 innings.

  • Biggus on May 23, 2013, 9:43 GMT

    @5wombats-Fancy meeting you here eh? Yes indeed I'm in Perth, and as for our chances in the Ashes go, I think this one's a goner. A couple of years ago I felt that we would lose this series, but be a fair chance in the return series on our home turf. Now I'm not so sure, I see little in the way of 'proper' batsmen on the way up through our once exemplary first class system, I'm bewildered at the fragility of our bowlers, and find the selectors' infatuation with bits and pieces players similarly baffling. Whilst we're not yet at the point where one might declare, "It's worse than that, he's dead Jim!", the patient is in a coma and shows no signs of leaping to life any time soon. I do think Rogers is a good selection but, and it pains my Aussie heart to say this, I think your chaps will rule the Ashes roost for a little while yet, barring divine intervention or witchcraft and/or voodoo dolls. C'est la vie my friend, swings and roundabouts, 'twas always the way, to the winner the spoils.

  • poms_have_short_memories on May 23, 2013, 8:05 GMT

    If Jackson Bird can perform the same role that Terry Alderman did in 1981 and 1989 it will be quite an interesting series with Starc, Pattinson and Harris/Siddle as 145kph+ muscle as backup.

  • MaruthuDelft on May 23, 2013, 6:32 GMT

    What happened to Cummins who won a test match for Australian in the last SA tour?

  • 5wombats on May 23, 2013, 5:44 GMT

    @Biggus on (May 22, 2013, 13:20 GMT) - hey mate! By an odd series of co-incidences the wombats will be in NSW and Qld this August searching for those lost burrows. I know it's a bit dismal being away from England during an Ashes series, but it's not as if it's the first time. So, if you are in Sydney, Cairns, Lamington NP or Armidale this August, let me know we will crack a few slabs and burn the midnight.... Whaderyasay? Unfortunately memory tells me you are a Perth boy though? BTW I'm with you over Aus chances. Need to sort that batting out!!!

  • Showbags88 on May 23, 2013, 5:32 GMT

    Cmon Aussies. You have been written off by the arrogant English media and fans. Now it's time to shove it back in their faces. My team would be Warner, Rogers, Khawaja, Clarke, Hughes, Watson, Haddin, Pattinson, Siddle, Harris, Bird (play four seamers if it looks like a seaming pitch and bring in Lyon or Ahmed for The Oval).

  • MinusZero on May 23, 2013, 5:18 GMT

    I dont think it will be a walkover for England, but I do expect them to win. While Australia continue to rotate bowlers, killing their momentum and selecting ODI players for tests, they will struggle.

  • bobagorof on May 23, 2013, 4:26 GMT

    Robert Roemer: Even if there were any truth to your assertions, your reasoning makes no sense. How does Clarke being captain of the national team prevent there being 'half-decent' batsmen in first-class cricket? Clarke isn't captain of Tasmania, or Queensland, or Victoria even. The states can pick who they like, and aren't going to not select a 'half-decent' batsman just because of Clarke's say-so. And yet, there has been a general decline in batsmanship across the whole domestic circuit. In fact, if Clarke was forcing these 'half-decent' batsmen out of the national side, they would go back into the domestic circuit. The only example I can think of from the past 5 years is Katich, and one raindrop doesn't mean a flood.

  • on May 23, 2013, 3:46 GMT

    @MsCricket.I disagree with you Ms Cricket. The biggest error in India for the whole team was losing the way they did.'Mohali four' were disciplined for not contributing to team knowledge/success.Dave Warner as an individual not on tour used a few swear words regarding a personal issue between him and a journalist.This is barely a scratch on CA's overall reputation and will only be a problem with ongoing incidents of this nature.The biggest problem for Australia's cricketing rep will be a lack of success.When everyone is performing I'm sure Homework assignments will be pushed aside because everyone will by then have a storehouse of experience to draw from.I noticed that the team were also taking written notes regarding Enlgands batting v NZ.I for one am pleased that the young'uns are made to engage their minds as well as their bodies to improve their performances.Good on Mickey/clarke for making a stand for intelligent analysis.It's smart cricket that will win out on the day.

  • featurewriter on May 23, 2013, 3:42 GMT

    The biggest mistake the selectors made was not including Mitch Johnson. The guy can swing a ball at incredible speed - and he can bat. Bad move. I think he will get a gig though, as my money is on Ryan Harris to get injured. (Great bowler, but injury prone.)

  • chicko1983 on May 23, 2013, 3:38 GMT

    Its pretty much locked in for both teams. First Test XIs. AUS: Warner, Cowan, Hughes, Clarke, Rodgers, Watson, Haddin, Starc, Pattinson, Siddle, Lyon. ENG: Cook, Compton, Trott, Bell, Pieterson, Root, Prior, Broad, Finn, Anderson, Swan. If Pieterson doesn't play, Bairstow in but swap order with Root. At the moment, England have the form advantage. However, a lot of Aussies hopes rest on three or four players: Warner, Hughes, Clarke and Starc. If 3 out of 4 of those players play well, which is entirely possible, then Aussies may snatch a couple of victories in England but win in Australia. Overall, I think it will be 4-4 with 2 draws after the 10 tests are played. Both teams will win at least one away and two or three at home.

  • Wefinishthis on May 22, 2013, 22:52 GMT

    From the squad available, depending on the pitch and assuming Cowan and Starc fail as usual in the first game, I'd be looking to select: 1.Warner, 2.Rogers, 3.Hughes, 4.Khawaja, 5.Clarke, 6.Watson, 7.Wade, 8.Pattinson, 9.Harris, 10.Lyon/Faulkner, 11.Bird. Unfortunately the selectors are incompetent and are therefore likely to go with Siddle, Starc, Pattinson and Lyon as the four for Trent Bridge, leaving out all of our most accurate bowlers in Bird, Harris and Faulkner which would be a massive mistake. I would have preferred that O'Keefe, Cosgrove, D.Hussey and Silk be in the squad as well, but I have to believe that surely this time will be different for Hughes, Cowan, Starc and Watson and that they will finally step up and have a big series to cement their spots.

  • on May 22, 2013, 22:34 GMT

    This whole "Clarke and no-one else" thing is a load of nonsense. The reason half-decent batsmen are steadily declining is BECAUSE of Clarke, and their inability to join his clique, they simply don't like playing under him and he knows it and is why he has suddenly decided to become a "good batsman". He is disliked and nothing will change - heck, I even see another HomeworkGate on the cards mid-Ashes, him and his little gang-like ways, they wont work now and they never will. Watson should have been captain, or Warner, or anyone else for that matter, just not Clarke. He isnt a "polarising" as the press keep saying, he is simply disliked.

  • Flemo_Gilly on May 22, 2013, 22:06 GMT

    @popcorn i like your team, I think Clarke and Khawaja will be our best batsman and Harris and Pattinson our best bowlers. The point folks are forgetting is that Australia are not the stale side they were the last Ashes. Since then we have had away series wins against Sri Lanka and the West Indies, drew against South Africa in SA, pushed SA to the brink in Oz, and hammered India and SL at home. All of those great results don't suddenly get wiped because of the Indian debacle…the same way England's win in India didn't suddnely cure it of the malaise that had seen it smashed by Pakistan and routed at home by SA. People quickly forget that prior to the Indian series, Australia had a 12-3 win/loss record since the Ashes.

  • Ms.Cricket on May 22, 2013, 22:03 GMT

    Australian cricket is in real trouble if their leaders Sutherland and Clarke condone indiscipline and promise the wrong-doers future rewards like in Warner's case. They show lack of clear leadership themselves. Apparently abusing journalists with foul language on Twitter publicly is not as bad as doing some petty theory homework.

  • Engerland on May 22, 2013, 21:19 GMT

    I must say, as an England fan I am quietly confident, but I think anyone writing off the Aussies may have a few surprises come the summer. Their seam attack is an unknown quantity in these conditions and potentially a major handful and our batting hasn't exactly been dominant for a while now. Swann is the trump card, particularly given the number of lefties in the likely Aus line up. I think Rogers is a shrewd pick for the Aussies and with Haddin coming back they have some experience there. Cowan has had a few scores for Notts and got a look at the conditions and Clarke is world class. I can certainly see them winning the odd session and that can sometimes be enough to turn a test. I think England will win the series, but I doubt very much we're going to stroll it and I can see Aus pushing us close in a couple of tests. 3-1 Bring it on!

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on May 22, 2013, 20:42 GMT

    "Notably, there was a worrying lack of runs from David Warner, Phillip Hughes and Shane Watson, all of whom averaged less than 25 and all of whom are part of the Ashes squad." Well that says it all really. What do you expect, sticking with short-form specialists for tests? I can't believe there are no better-suited players than these for tests in Aus.

    This famous Aus. pace-battery that everyone keeps talking up has 20 overs max. to make an impact per game, and then there is nothing else to fill up the remaining overs. England batsmen can then bat at will and score big. Leaving out O'Keefe and McKay was a huge mistake.

  • 214ty on May 22, 2013, 20:19 GMT

    Australia usually contribute to their own demise by selecting the wrong team. If they select Watson to play in tests instead of a specialist batsman and Bird doesn't play they are up for a 5-0 series whitewash as I predicted. Watson is a one day player and not a test batsman, and Bird is the only one on the team that bowls on a consistent length. New Zealand bowlers pinned down England by bowling at the stumps and on a consistent length. They virtually gave away nothing. So if Australian bowlers don't take a page from that and stop bowling short and wide, they will be in for a long series.

  • on May 22, 2013, 19:08 GMT

    How well will Australia play swing in England. If England make low scores, then Australia will make lower scores. I can`t see this present Australian team showing any kind of resistance against England in England. Apart from Clarke,Hugues and Watson, who else will bat.

  • Jagger on May 22, 2013, 18:51 GMT

    Khawaja vs Anderson, Finn & Broad in England you have got to be kidding. Our selected batsmen (Clarke aside) should all be jailed under false pretences. Looking forward to watching Harris and Bird bowl in the first innings at Lords and then for it to rain for two months.

  • mukesh_LOVE.cricket on May 22, 2013, 18:37 GMT

    Aussies does have a pace attack which can test the best in the world (provided they stay fit) ,also i think Philip hughes will make his mark in this series , he may be unorthodox but i think there is enough talent in him to succeed in test cricket , even in India towards the end he made very good improvement but was unlucky to get some bad decisions.. i will be supporting australia all the way (but 2 ashes back to back is a lame idea)

  • on May 22, 2013, 16:25 GMT

    The Aussie will win 5-0 because they are the champion of all time. Aussie you are the best team as compared to England so will win 5 nil.

  • Matt. on May 22, 2013, 15:46 GMT

    its funny how different everyones opinion is, shows how difficult a selector's job is. here is my 2 cents anyway :)

    watson, rogers, hughes, cowan, clarke, warner, haddin, siddle, pattinson, bird, lyon

    watson has had no success since being an opener. rogers is a man on form and will complete a nice left hand right hand opening combination. hughes at 3 as he is better against a new ball, if he comes in against swann he'll be walking back quickly. i think cowan at 4 is nice because he generally doesn't get out quicky, he fails to kick on..but at least his patience could help arrest a batting collapse. clarke because he loves batting at 5. warner is a bit too cavalier for a test opener, but could provide a gilchrist type destructive role down the order. haddin then the bowlers. to start with i leave out starc as he is still a bit too wayward, we need bird's accuracy. sidds and patts are givens. we then have khawaja to replace whoever doesn't perform, and starc and harris as injury cover

  • RandyOZ on May 22, 2013, 15:11 GMT

    There is simply no doubt that Bird has to play in England. We all know how well McGrath did in England and Bird is the closest we have to him.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on May 22, 2013, 14:51 GMT

    Aussie fans have had it tough in the last five years watching England's dominance over them in the test arena, but the bad news is that their current team is worse than the side that got thrashed in their own back yard last time. Starc and Clarke's are certainly apprehensive, seemingly unable to face what happened last time and adapt. Too late for that now. On the recent India tour the world saw the same Indian team that England stamped their authority on, Whitewash Oz 4-0. So no one, not even Oz fans, would seriously claim that Australia are better. And after the humiliation of refusing to move out of the middle order and 'do a Cook', how Clarke has remained in the job just shows how there really is no one else. Yes, they don't have a spinner, Yes they don't have an Anderson, or a KP or a decent keeper (the list is a long one), but Australia's seamers will be handy in England, even on the flat pitches of July. This is still, unfortunately, nowhere near the mark. 4-0 Eng

  • I-Like-Cricket on May 22, 2013, 14:29 GMT

    @Liam Flynn, bit harsh on old Ryan Harris there I think, I'd only have Faulkner in there if Watto doesn't perform with the bat. Though I definitely agree, if Watto is bowling then definitely go in with the 4 quicks. I'm also backing this series as the one where Starc find his rhythm and, for a while at least, becomes one of the best and most consistent swing bowlers in the world.

  • Big_Maxy_Walker on May 22, 2013, 14:26 GMT

    Even as an Aussie fan I am thinking draw at best in England

  • dutchy on May 22, 2013, 14:18 GMT

    I've been scribbling hypothetical batting line ups at work all week - the only position I'm sure of in the top six is Clarke at five. My current one: 1) Watson 2) Cowan 3) Rogers 4) Khwaja 5) Clarke 6) Warner. Clarke seems to only work at five; ditto Watson as opener. Rogers could open too. Could Cowan be a number three? Khwaja could be at six. Can Warner make it at six? What a headache!

  • TheBigBoodha on May 22, 2013, 14:02 GMT

    @AlanF, you can't see Australia scoring 250 runs? Didn't you watch the recent series versus SA? Or the one before that in SA? Nearly 500 in one shortened day, dude! You are basing your assessment on the abominable dustbowls that India threw up recently, which is totally irrelevant, and the ONLY bad series Australia has played in the last 2 1/2 years (they lost narrowly against SA but played some scintillating cricket - only terrible luck cost them the series). Given that the NZ batsmen had little trouble in NZ vs Eng I'd suggest players like Clarke, Rogers and probably even Warner and Hughes could do quite a bit better here. England has one decent bowling innings in the last 8, and an attack that barely has a bowler that averages under 30. That's hardly cause to ring the alarm bells. England way overrated.

  • on May 22, 2013, 13:39 GMT

    The selectors have shown a fair degree of humility in bringing back Chris Rogers and Brad Haddin and axing Doherty, Henriques, Smith, Wade & Maxwell, none of whom should have been anywhere near the Test side and ever man and their blind dog said so and loudly.

    We have a luxury of riches in our bowling stocks, which just further compounds the head scratching of how Moises Henriques was our first change bowler just two tests ago.

    The selectors will have a hard time picking a bad team out of these, but I somehow expect Warner and Cowan to continue their mediocrity while they try to shoehorn Chris Rodgers into being Mike Hussey at 6.

    Rodgers, Hughes, Clarke, someone, someone, Warner, Haddin, Faulkner, someone, someone, someone.

  • popcorn on May 22, 2013, 13:22 GMT

    I hope the Team selectors are sensible in their choices for the Tests.We need a solid Engine Room that buils stong foundations, a solid middle order and good swong and pace bowlers plus the spinner Nathan Lyon.Therefore, the openers should be Ed Cowan and Chris Rogers followed by Usman Khawaja at 3, Shane Watson at 4, Clarke at 5, Haddin wicket keeper at 6, Batsman Wade at 7, Siddle, Starc, Pattinson and Lyon.Warmer and Hughes are undependable.I have no place for their airy fairy nicks and cuts and wild shots.

  • Biggus on May 22, 2013, 13:20 GMT

    I don't think we have a snowflake's chance in hell of winning the Ashes back this time. Despite the presence of Michael Clarke I see this as one of the weakest Australian batting line-ups I've seen, and I struggle to see them making enough runs on a regular basis to give our bowlers something to work with. Nothing would give me more pleasure than to be proven wrong, but I just can't see it happening.

  • on May 22, 2013, 13:06 GMT

    Starc is no doubt the one who can swing it the most in our squad but he lacks accuracy and to give this English side too much latitude for too long will be asking for trouble. The Aussie side is surprisingly very difficult to select despite the bowling riches. Despite the extremely favourable conditions I would prefer Bird (as Lyndon also points out). I would love to go for the throat from the get-go (conditions permitting) with an all-pace attack of Pattinson, Bird, Siddle, Faulkner (Watson as 5th) with Harris the unlucky one for me. Each man offers something different and the attack will collectively be very hard to dominate. The most likely outcome of this Ashes series is that both batting lineups prove brittle but at the end of the day I hope we remain with more runs on the board. This much-maligned side has a better record than any other team against the totally dominant Saffas; if we can match them we can match anyone.

  • landl47 on May 22, 2013, 12:48 GMT

    Aus will come into the Ashes series pretty well-prepared, with the Champions Trophy, the Australia A tour and a couple of players (Cowan and Rogers) already playing county cricket. The worry might be the fitness of the bowlers, with 4 of the 6 seamers (Pattinson, Starc, Bird and as always Harris) coming off injuries. However, if they are all fit it's a pretty good-looking attack. The batting's a bit iffy, with Warner, Hughes and Watson seeming to be better suited to short-format games (I quite like Aus for the Champions Trophy), Cowan a journeyman, Rogers having only played one test, Khawaja having hardly played for 6 months and Clarke coming off an injury, but if they can get on a roll they could be dangerous. If any of the pitches are turners, Aus is in trouble, with a bunch of left-handers not adept at playing spin facing Swann and only Lyon for Aus against a side that just beat India in India.

    I'm looking forward to a hard-fought contest, as Ashes series always are.

  • on May 22, 2013, 12:45 GMT

    @sirViv.I think there is quite a decent step up in quality from the NZ attack to ours. The NZ attack appear pretty close to ours in optimum bowling conditions however our attack has credentials on all types of surfaces.NZ dont have a genuine enforcer like Pattinson which is needed when there is little movement.If both teams were playing in Sydney in the middle of the Australian summer, the limitations of Southee, Boult and bracewell beyond the newball would become very apparent.Siddle is a master of stamina and consistency in such conditions and Pattinson's abilities with the old ball are proven.Beyond Clarke there is a lot of unrealized potential in Australia's batting with the likes of Warner, Hughes, Khwawaja which I hope will come good but even with just Warner and Clarke firing together with good contributions from the tail we should be able to post some decent totals.I'd bank on our bowlers but with our batting my fingers are crossed behind my back and am just hopeing.

  • AlanF on May 22, 2013, 12:41 GMT

    Barring weather, Australia will end up losing 17 consecutive Tests - four to India, 10 to England and three to South Africa. I just can't see them scoring more than 250 in an innings against any of them.

  • Beertjie on May 22, 2013, 12:14 GMT

    Good point made by Clarke: "they're playing some really good cricket." That's just right: keep feeding their egos! Even with KP they'll be vulnerable if we keep it tight. Excellent suggestions for the bowling line-up, @Mitty2 on (May 22, 2013, 11:39 GMT). I'd have Watson to fall back on when Harris plays, just in case we're a bowler short mid-way through a game. I'd tip Rogers to score Hussey's runs, @pat_one_back on (May 22, 2013, 11:36 GMT). Maybe not as many but hopefully Khawaja will score better than others who've been tried. As you write Oz needs to play to their full potential, especially the batters (and that includes wk and lower-order who've done very well of late.).

  • SirViv1973 on May 22, 2013, 11:59 GMT

    On paper at least I don't think there is a lot to choose between this Aus squad and the NZL one which is currently touring. Both teams have decent seam attacks although Aus have a bit more depth & neither side has a top class spinner. In terms of the batting if you look at the current averages of both teams top 7 there isn't much to choose either, although Clarke is head and shoulders above any of the NZL batters. I think Aus will have their moments in the series however I certainly expect Eng to win it.

  • on May 22, 2013, 11:57 GMT

    Discussing the right length to bowl is all well and good but does Mitchell Starc have the ability to execute that consistently? Starc's good deliveries are unplayable but inbetween there is a lot of rubbish. His only good balls are those that threaten the stumps. Every other delivery that the batsmen dont have to play at are pressure relieving balls and are only good for taking the shine off the ball or fodder for the sideboards.Still though if Starc can get it all together in England then I definitely will not complain. Every other bowler in the squad can be relied upon if fit. Pattinson may spray the odd ball but he bowls enough wicket taking jaffas for it not to matter. Bird's performance was pure swing bowling of the highest order in his 2 matches so far. Harris's deliveries are of just the right line and lenght to hit the top of off more than any other bowler in the world IMO and Siddle is our flat track Iron man; running down the worlds best batsmen bit by bit (he gets 'em).

  • blink182alex on May 22, 2013, 11:40 GMT

    If we can just keep posting scores of 350 in our first innings we will stand a chance in every test. It's the poor batting collapses that keeps costing us test matches, it cost us in 2009 with a poor first innings at Lords and the Oval. The English media seem to think that NZ's bowling attack is better than ours (aussies), but we all know Pattinson, Starc, Siddle, Harris and Bird are far superior and will prove that.

    With KP's injury not healing as expected and Bairstow and Compton just not being that good i would say if we still had Mr Cricket playing one last test series for us and not increasing his bank account in that hit and giggle t20 tournament then we would be able to cope with England's bowlers much better and would actually stand a good chance of winning the series.

    Pattinson, Harris and Siddle is not weaker than Anderson, Broad and Finn.

  • Mitty2 on May 22, 2013, 11:39 GMT

    Individually, you'd suggest the English batting line up would be a fiersome unit, but as a group, they (much like us) have been very susceptible to collapses and have made a lot of very sub par scores since the last ashes. Watching both NZ series, they have faltered under the (mental) pressure of the NZ bowlers who, despite the lack of pace, work very well as a group, swing it well and are very economical. I think the supposed struggles against left armers is more just a struggle against tight bowling. The key isn't as much as swing as many will say, it purely will be economical and pressured bowling. Consequently, unless starc tears it up in the warm up games, don't play him. His average is above 30 in FC and tests, he has a great deal of potential, but he leaks runs way too easily. Bird iand harris are the best two bowlers in the country, and the attack should be based around them. Patto averaged a phenomenal 27 in India, and is next in. When Harris gets injured, bring in siddle.

  • pat_one_back on May 22, 2013, 11:36 GMT

    Eng are good but not great, NZ are just a little confidence away from putting them away! No doubt they can be beaten at home by the likes of Aust's who knows what your going to get squad. Aust will have to play to their full potential and show resilience, as they did in the first 2 tests against SA last year, who's to score Hussey's runs though...

  • Jediroya on May 22, 2013, 11:32 GMT

    However much England's batsmen struggle against swing, Australia's batsmen will struggle more.

  • Diggazs team on May 22, 2013, 10:48 GMT

    I think AUS have a pretty good chance. I think they'll not confidence out of ENG for the Australian part of the series.

  • Diggazs team on May 22, 2013, 10:48 GMT

    I think AUS have a pretty good chance. I think they'll not confidence out of ENG for the Australian part of the series.

  • Jediroya on May 22, 2013, 11:32 GMT

    However much England's batsmen struggle against swing, Australia's batsmen will struggle more.

  • pat_one_back on May 22, 2013, 11:36 GMT

    Eng are good but not great, NZ are just a little confidence away from putting them away! No doubt they can be beaten at home by the likes of Aust's who knows what your going to get squad. Aust will have to play to their full potential and show resilience, as they did in the first 2 tests against SA last year, who's to score Hussey's runs though...

  • Mitty2 on May 22, 2013, 11:39 GMT

    Individually, you'd suggest the English batting line up would be a fiersome unit, but as a group, they (much like us) have been very susceptible to collapses and have made a lot of very sub par scores since the last ashes. Watching both NZ series, they have faltered under the (mental) pressure of the NZ bowlers who, despite the lack of pace, work very well as a group, swing it well and are very economical. I think the supposed struggles against left armers is more just a struggle against tight bowling. The key isn't as much as swing as many will say, it purely will be economical and pressured bowling. Consequently, unless starc tears it up in the warm up games, don't play him. His average is above 30 in FC and tests, he has a great deal of potential, but he leaks runs way too easily. Bird iand harris are the best two bowlers in the country, and the attack should be based around them. Patto averaged a phenomenal 27 in India, and is next in. When Harris gets injured, bring in siddle.

  • blink182alex on May 22, 2013, 11:40 GMT

    If we can just keep posting scores of 350 in our first innings we will stand a chance in every test. It's the poor batting collapses that keeps costing us test matches, it cost us in 2009 with a poor first innings at Lords and the Oval. The English media seem to think that NZ's bowling attack is better than ours (aussies), but we all know Pattinson, Starc, Siddle, Harris and Bird are far superior and will prove that.

    With KP's injury not healing as expected and Bairstow and Compton just not being that good i would say if we still had Mr Cricket playing one last test series for us and not increasing his bank account in that hit and giggle t20 tournament then we would be able to cope with England's bowlers much better and would actually stand a good chance of winning the series.

    Pattinson, Harris and Siddle is not weaker than Anderson, Broad and Finn.

  • on May 22, 2013, 11:57 GMT

    Discussing the right length to bowl is all well and good but does Mitchell Starc have the ability to execute that consistently? Starc's good deliveries are unplayable but inbetween there is a lot of rubbish. His only good balls are those that threaten the stumps. Every other delivery that the batsmen dont have to play at are pressure relieving balls and are only good for taking the shine off the ball or fodder for the sideboards.Still though if Starc can get it all together in England then I definitely will not complain. Every other bowler in the squad can be relied upon if fit. Pattinson may spray the odd ball but he bowls enough wicket taking jaffas for it not to matter. Bird's performance was pure swing bowling of the highest order in his 2 matches so far. Harris's deliveries are of just the right line and lenght to hit the top of off more than any other bowler in the world IMO and Siddle is our flat track Iron man; running down the worlds best batsmen bit by bit (he gets 'em).

  • SirViv1973 on May 22, 2013, 11:59 GMT

    On paper at least I don't think there is a lot to choose between this Aus squad and the NZL one which is currently touring. Both teams have decent seam attacks although Aus have a bit more depth & neither side has a top class spinner. In terms of the batting if you look at the current averages of both teams top 7 there isn't much to choose either, although Clarke is head and shoulders above any of the NZL batters. I think Aus will have their moments in the series however I certainly expect Eng to win it.

  • Beertjie on May 22, 2013, 12:14 GMT

    Good point made by Clarke: "they're playing some really good cricket." That's just right: keep feeding their egos! Even with KP they'll be vulnerable if we keep it tight. Excellent suggestions for the bowling line-up, @Mitty2 on (May 22, 2013, 11:39 GMT). I'd have Watson to fall back on when Harris plays, just in case we're a bowler short mid-way through a game. I'd tip Rogers to score Hussey's runs, @pat_one_back on (May 22, 2013, 11:36 GMT). Maybe not as many but hopefully Khawaja will score better than others who've been tried. As you write Oz needs to play to their full potential, especially the batters (and that includes wk and lower-order who've done very well of late.).

  • AlanF on May 22, 2013, 12:41 GMT

    Barring weather, Australia will end up losing 17 consecutive Tests - four to India, 10 to England and three to South Africa. I just can't see them scoring more than 250 in an innings against any of them.

  • on May 22, 2013, 12:45 GMT

    @sirViv.I think there is quite a decent step up in quality from the NZ attack to ours. The NZ attack appear pretty close to ours in optimum bowling conditions however our attack has credentials on all types of surfaces.NZ dont have a genuine enforcer like Pattinson which is needed when there is little movement.If both teams were playing in Sydney in the middle of the Australian summer, the limitations of Southee, Boult and bracewell beyond the newball would become very apparent.Siddle is a master of stamina and consistency in such conditions and Pattinson's abilities with the old ball are proven.Beyond Clarke there is a lot of unrealized potential in Australia's batting with the likes of Warner, Hughes, Khwawaja which I hope will come good but even with just Warner and Clarke firing together with good contributions from the tail we should be able to post some decent totals.I'd bank on our bowlers but with our batting my fingers are crossed behind my back and am just hopeing.