The Investec Ashes 2013 July 7, 2013

Swann aims to cut off the head

65

England have their sights set on Michael Clarke as the Ashes looms, knowing that a quiet series for Australia's captain will go a long way to ensuring the urn does not change hands.

Graeme Swann is well aware of the impact that restricting the opposition captain's runs can have after watching Ricky Ponting endure a miserable series in 2010-11. On that occasion, England also limited Clarke's output to 193 runs in five Tests - the last of which is his first in charge - and know that this current Australia side are hugely reliant on his performances.

Clarke is far and away Australia's leading batsman, holding together what has often looked a callow order recently, and since returning from the back injury that kept him out of the Champions Trophy, has made good use of the warm-up matches against Somerset and Worcestershire with scores of 45, 26, 62 and 124.

"He was their form batsman in England in 2009, although he didn't have such a good series in Australia," Swann told ESPNcricinfo. "The year he's had has been phenomenal, so we'll be hoping to cut the head off the serpent if you like, as a captain.

"The two Ashes series I've played, and one of the main reasons we've won, is because we've been able to make some of their best players have poor series," he added. "Clarke and Ponting last time, and Mike Hussey, until The Oval, in 2009.

"That's what you need to do to win big series, make sure the match-winners in their team don't have a chance to perform. We'll have two or three players on their team we'll definitely be looking at to keep especially quiet - although you hope everyone on the opposition has a poor series."

Swann fully appreciates the power that a prolific leader can have for a side having watched Alastair Cook begin his full-time captaincy career in with a consistently high return. "The best thing he's done is lead from the front by scoring runs. There is no greater way for a team to get behind the captain than watch him pile on the runs," Swann said.

Unsurprisingly, even though Swann is one of more forthcoming England players, he would not be drawn much in Australia's recent problems. However, he has always held Darren Lehmann, their new coach, in the highest regard since the pair duelled together on the field.

"We don't know what their issues were and it's not really for us to try and find out, although I'm sure we'd like to know, because everyone likes a gossip," he said. "What I do know is that Darren Lehmann was a magnificent player, second to none, only Brian Lara has been a better player of those I've bowled against.

"They have a good man, he's a good fella. Whether that brings the team together is probably for people to judge at the end of the summer. You could get rid of every clique and every problem in a team, but if you don't win it doesn't matter."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on July 7, 2013, 17:09 GMT

    Swann is a very good bowler and he has the stats to back it up. However, talking is not enough. Any big words have to be backed up with performances. If Clarke ends up tormenting England, then Swann will look like a fool. So let's stop all the talking, and let's start walking. This is why McGrath was such a freak. He almost accurately predicted the results before a series. He said England would be whitewashed 5-0 in 2006/2007, and that did happen. So however, you look at it, Swann is a very confident bowler which only bodes well for England. But there is absolutely no doubt that Swann would be a better bowler than Lyon in this year's Ashes.

  • on July 7, 2013, 13:03 GMT

    It's very ambitious of a spinner to think they can dominate Michael Clarke. Although in saying this Clarke does like to use his feet and come down the pitch so maybe that is where Swann thinks he may have half a chance. It could be an intrigueing battle and although Swann may get Clarke out once or twice in the series; I'd still back Clarke to take him for plenty of runs and win the little battle over the long haul. Clarke and Smith batting together could really work well in negating Swann's influence also.

  • H_Z_O on July 9, 2013, 20:13 GMT

    @Lyndon McPaul I'm only messing with you. Lots of Aussie comments about Jimmy not being that good although I think it's mostly to do with the terribly inappropriate comparisons with Steyn and McGrath (Jimmy's not in their league, imho).

    And I agree Broad is our answer to Mitch, that's why I said it! If he pitches it up he can be devastating but when he gets this stupid "enforcer" nonsense in his head he bowls too many long hops. He can bowl a good bouncer but he's not fast enough to keep bowling them. Batsmen get wise to it and he's easy pickings.

    @Jono Makim I've been saying all along you guys have to pick Smith. Clarke, Smith and Haddin are all very good players of spin, capable of blunting Swann. Footholes is an issue and it's why I've been saying I wouldn't, if I were Aussie, pick both Starc and Faulkner unless you have to. It's going to expose the righies to Swann whereas without the footholes he'll have a tough time against them.

  • RVC-38 on July 9, 2013, 19:18 GMT

    @bradmanbestever Botham could not win a test against the aussies as captain and He will not win any tipping comps as a so called expert

  • BradmanBestEver on July 9, 2013, 9:22 GMT

    I see Botham is predicting a 10 - 0 result. I think he is too optimistic, because surely England will win at least one test.

  • RVC-38 on July 9, 2013, 7:35 GMT

    remember when we used to talk about who would swing the ball the most during an English ahes series.

  • on July 9, 2013, 7:18 GMT

    Realistically, the closer we get to playing this series the more Swann's chances ebb and flow. After all the talk of Aus having 6 lefties in their top seven, it may now be reduced to as few as 3. On the other hand all of the pitches over there seem to be pretty dry and good for batting, so we will probably see plenty of turning 5th day tracks... From an Aus point of view I fancy our chances in the middle order with Clarke, Smith and Haddin, I just hope Starc does lots of round the wicket bowling if we are going to be batting last! I think if Aus bats first and goes in with all these 'righties', as opposed to lefties, then Swann may be a non issue.

  • zn264 on July 9, 2013, 4:49 GMT

    It's great to be able to sit on the fence as a kiwi and the pre-match slug fest take place! I think we will see an upset win by the Aussies in the first, and then the English should take control after that. Let's not forget where this is being played, so expect at least 3 draws. I mean if NZ can cause the English a few headaches over the past few months, I would like to think this Aussie side can at least make it an exciting ashes! That's all we really want, some decent cricket to be played over FIVE days.

  • _Australian_ on July 9, 2013, 3:34 GMT

    Posted by Sunshine_Pom on (July 8, 2013, 19:04 GMT). I don't expect our bowlers to dig our batsman out of a hole. The bowlers are far less a concern than our batting. It will probably be a long 'winter' for me regardless, as in reality I think England are deserved favourites and I mentioned as much. Also since January we have not had every one of these bowlers available for selection at one time. Surely you can see, regardless of any outcome, the balance of the current Australian bowling squad is far better than anything selected since January.

  • on July 9, 2013, 3:11 GMT

    @H_Z_O re "And what do you mean Anderson and Broad are the main threat? I thought Jimmy's rubbish and Broad is to Australia what Mitchell Johnson was to England? ;)"I have never said Jimmy's rubbish! There's no doubt Jimmy will do some damage during this series and Oz at best need to limit that damage by some stubborn batting in our top 3.I am therefore not opposed to Cowan at first drop because of his one redeeming quality;he can actually leave the ball! Broady is definitely the English version of MJ.He's a talented pretty boy who at his best can destroy the entire opposition batting order in one session but fails to bring his A game 90% of the time.Unfortunately Oz do not have the pack mentality of English supporters and have therefore failed to organize a mass traveling choir and a special song for Broady but in any case, I'm sure all conscientious Oz batsmen would have him and Anderson foremost on their minds as the main danger though would be sweating on a few pies from Broady!

  • on July 7, 2013, 17:09 GMT

    Swann is a very good bowler and he has the stats to back it up. However, talking is not enough. Any big words have to be backed up with performances. If Clarke ends up tormenting England, then Swann will look like a fool. So let's stop all the talking, and let's start walking. This is why McGrath was such a freak. He almost accurately predicted the results before a series. He said England would be whitewashed 5-0 in 2006/2007, and that did happen. So however, you look at it, Swann is a very confident bowler which only bodes well for England. But there is absolutely no doubt that Swann would be a better bowler than Lyon in this year's Ashes.

  • on July 7, 2013, 13:03 GMT

    It's very ambitious of a spinner to think they can dominate Michael Clarke. Although in saying this Clarke does like to use his feet and come down the pitch so maybe that is where Swann thinks he may have half a chance. It could be an intrigueing battle and although Swann may get Clarke out once or twice in the series; I'd still back Clarke to take him for plenty of runs and win the little battle over the long haul. Clarke and Smith batting together could really work well in negating Swann's influence also.

  • H_Z_O on July 9, 2013, 20:13 GMT

    @Lyndon McPaul I'm only messing with you. Lots of Aussie comments about Jimmy not being that good although I think it's mostly to do with the terribly inappropriate comparisons with Steyn and McGrath (Jimmy's not in their league, imho).

    And I agree Broad is our answer to Mitch, that's why I said it! If he pitches it up he can be devastating but when he gets this stupid "enforcer" nonsense in his head he bowls too many long hops. He can bowl a good bouncer but he's not fast enough to keep bowling them. Batsmen get wise to it and he's easy pickings.

    @Jono Makim I've been saying all along you guys have to pick Smith. Clarke, Smith and Haddin are all very good players of spin, capable of blunting Swann. Footholes is an issue and it's why I've been saying I wouldn't, if I were Aussie, pick both Starc and Faulkner unless you have to. It's going to expose the righies to Swann whereas without the footholes he'll have a tough time against them.

  • RVC-38 on July 9, 2013, 19:18 GMT

    @bradmanbestever Botham could not win a test against the aussies as captain and He will not win any tipping comps as a so called expert

  • BradmanBestEver on July 9, 2013, 9:22 GMT

    I see Botham is predicting a 10 - 0 result. I think he is too optimistic, because surely England will win at least one test.

  • RVC-38 on July 9, 2013, 7:35 GMT

    remember when we used to talk about who would swing the ball the most during an English ahes series.

  • on July 9, 2013, 7:18 GMT

    Realistically, the closer we get to playing this series the more Swann's chances ebb and flow. After all the talk of Aus having 6 lefties in their top seven, it may now be reduced to as few as 3. On the other hand all of the pitches over there seem to be pretty dry and good for batting, so we will probably see plenty of turning 5th day tracks... From an Aus point of view I fancy our chances in the middle order with Clarke, Smith and Haddin, I just hope Starc does lots of round the wicket bowling if we are going to be batting last! I think if Aus bats first and goes in with all these 'righties', as opposed to lefties, then Swann may be a non issue.

  • zn264 on July 9, 2013, 4:49 GMT

    It's great to be able to sit on the fence as a kiwi and the pre-match slug fest take place! I think we will see an upset win by the Aussies in the first, and then the English should take control after that. Let's not forget where this is being played, so expect at least 3 draws. I mean if NZ can cause the English a few headaches over the past few months, I would like to think this Aussie side can at least make it an exciting ashes! That's all we really want, some decent cricket to be played over FIVE days.

  • _Australian_ on July 9, 2013, 3:34 GMT

    Posted by Sunshine_Pom on (July 8, 2013, 19:04 GMT). I don't expect our bowlers to dig our batsman out of a hole. The bowlers are far less a concern than our batting. It will probably be a long 'winter' for me regardless, as in reality I think England are deserved favourites and I mentioned as much. Also since January we have not had every one of these bowlers available for selection at one time. Surely you can see, regardless of any outcome, the balance of the current Australian bowling squad is far better than anything selected since January.

  • on July 9, 2013, 3:11 GMT

    @H_Z_O re "And what do you mean Anderson and Broad are the main threat? I thought Jimmy's rubbish and Broad is to Australia what Mitchell Johnson was to England? ;)"I have never said Jimmy's rubbish! There's no doubt Jimmy will do some damage during this series and Oz at best need to limit that damage by some stubborn batting in our top 3.I am therefore not opposed to Cowan at first drop because of his one redeeming quality;he can actually leave the ball! Broady is definitely the English version of MJ.He's a talented pretty boy who at his best can destroy the entire opposition batting order in one session but fails to bring his A game 90% of the time.Unfortunately Oz do not have the pack mentality of English supporters and have therefore failed to organize a mass traveling choir and a special song for Broady but in any case, I'm sure all conscientious Oz batsmen would have him and Anderson foremost on their minds as the main danger though would be sweating on a few pies from Broady!

  • Meety on July 8, 2013, 23:45 GMT

    @Lyndon McPaul - don't think Clarke can be dominated by a spinner, but he certainly can get out to them thru over confidence.

  • ScottStevo on July 8, 2013, 22:55 GMT

    @Sunshine_Pom, that's 7 tests, right? Maybe 8, not sure of the last test vs SL. Bit harsh, considering one of those a whole day was washed out - and we had SA 50-5 (remind me, how did Eng go against SA again?) and the other we lost one of our 4 front line bowlers to injury for the whole second innings. Fair enough, we bowled poorly in India. Doesn't help we don't have a spinner! However, in English conditions, we will take wickets - and it's not as if for the last 18 months the English batting line up has been without their failures. In fact, more to the point, they've been decidedly average. As @bouncedout suggests, these warm up games prove so much, and what Essex proved, was that when the pace bowling was around 90mph,they wrecked your line up. We have 2 guys heading your way bowling those speeds! He didn't bowl in the second innings and England scored runs...no surprise there. NZ wrecked your batsmen too - oh, that's right, it was complacency that did you in...

  • 5wombats on July 8, 2013, 20:28 GMT

    It's pretty obvious that England, interestingly, have produced spinning pitches because they have seen that Australia have no spinners. However, India against England in India also produced spinning pitches (they called them "sporting"...) and look what happened there! Swann will be a key player in this series and I just love to watch him bowling. He is the real deal.

  • Sunshine_Pom on July 8, 2013, 19:04 GMT

    _Australian_ - Australia haven't taken 20 wickets in a test match since January. If you are backing your bowlers to dig your batsmen out of a hole in this Ashes series, then it's going to be a long summer for you my friend.

  • on July 8, 2013, 18:49 GMT

    Well cant wait for the series to kick off on 10th. One of the most awaited clashes perhaps. Rivalry continues. Tell u what dont underestimate aussie batting. Aussies are tough, specially what happend in last couple of months.. And i dont see swanny being threat to any of the batsman ,, not even tailenders. Its england folks . No disrespect to Swan. Jimmy anderson is what Mcgrath was to pommies few years ago,, bt swann is nowhere near warnie. Go aussies go. Its ten tests. So lets wait and watch.

  • H_Z_O on July 8, 2013, 18:15 GMT

    @Lyndon McPaul I've got to agree with you. I'm looking forward to seeing Clarke up against Swann, it's going to be an intriguing battle, but Clarke's favourite to come out on top. Jadeja's a left armer, they've been known to cause problems for right handed batsmen, even those with a reputation for being good at playing spin...like a certain South African born batsman playing for England. Swann being an offie should favour Clarke, so he'll have to out-think him to get him out.

    And what do you mean Anderson and Broad are the main threat? I thought Jimmy's rubbish and Broad is to Australia what Mitchell Johnson was to England? ;)

    Despite being an England fan I hope your batsmen do get a few decent totals. Your bowlers are quality but if they're defending 150-200 every innings the series is only going to end one way and a one-sided contest would be boring to watch.

  • on July 8, 2013, 17:36 GMT

    My prediction is, England will win. Australia's bowling and batting will be exposed (5 test series is really hard yakka and i don think these guys are up to that level). Bowling and batting in the UK is much harder than you think folks. England has got the best batting line up in England. So unless Australia think out of the box, they will be sorely disappointed. Swing (both conventional and reverse) is the key for bowlers. But i want Aussies to prove me wrong.

  • on July 8, 2013, 17:34 GMT

    Those are really big words, but that is Greame Swann for you. Whether they do manage to do it is a different question, but it is clear that England have done their homework right, and are not getting complacent. While for Australia this adds another point they have to prove wrong if they are to win the series. A big call to the other batsmen to step up their game.

  • on July 8, 2013, 15:18 GMT

    @Nithin...As I said it looks to be an intriguing battle. Taking into consideration the difference in conditions and the fact that they arent tailor made for spin dominance, Australia's relatively good record against swan and Clarke's positive footwork; I would back Clarke to win this little battle with weight of runs. I would rather Australia lose a few wickets hitting out at the spinners anyway than nicking through unplayable inswingers and outswingers from James Anderson. Lets face it...If Swan is needed at all it means that at least some of our fragile batting lineup has seen off the main threats of Anderson and Broad and therefore might have a shot at 300+ runs.

  • on July 8, 2013, 14:14 GMT

    @Lyndon Ever heard of a certain "Sir" Ravindra Jadeja from Rajkot, India? Agreed he is a different bowler and that series in question was played in India. But the point is a spinner "did" dominate Clarke, especially in the mind. Also this very Swann and the "rather innocuous" Monty Panesar (ably supported by Jimmy Anderson) knocked out the famed Indian batting order in their own backyard to win a test series not-so-long-ago. Whaddyathink?

  • kreeketer on July 8, 2013, 14:00 GMT

    Ravindra Jadeja did it for India...I am sure Swanny will do it as well....tough times for Clarke if the pitch turns on day3 / day4 in england...Hope Swann gets support from fast bowlers as well

  • Shaggy076 on July 8, 2013, 11:13 GMT

    In Ashes tests all Swann is renowned for is the sprinkler dance, played in two winning Ashes series yet averages over 40 and we are consistently told our spinner is not up to Ashes cricket. Let's see if Swann dies a lot mite than just talking in this series.

  • _Australian_ on July 8, 2013, 9:38 GMT

    @boucedout. I don't necessarily disagree that Australia will more than likely struggle and England deserve to be favourites. But Australia's only strength is their bowling and they can definitely take 20 wickets. The concern is can our batsmen score enough runs. The last tour match is a poor reflection to go by. Only 2 frontline quicks played and neither will probably play in the first test. It is probable that Australia will pick Siddle, Starc, Patterson and Lyon. None of which even played in that tour game.

  • on July 8, 2013, 9:26 GMT

    it will be difficult to swann.coz the way he perform he is not consistent

  • Baundele on July 8, 2013, 9:04 GMT

    How to get Khawaja? Let him score 20/30 runs and then bring Alistair Cook, or Ian Bell, or KP, or Trott or whoever to bowl, Khawaja will find a way to dismiss himself.

  • Baundele on July 8, 2013, 9:01 GMT

    If the Aussie management did not destroy Watson, and force Hussey to retire, Swann would have found it hard to break through the Aussie batting line up.

  • bouncedout on July 8, 2013, 9:00 GMT

    Aus are going to struggle even if Clarke has a great series, they just do not have the ability to take 20 wickets. There last warn up game against a county side showed that.

    Clarke scoring runs will mean that Aus just get beaten rather that hammered if he doesn't come to the party.

    tick tock

  • Tigg on July 8, 2013, 8:49 GMT

    @Balaji Kumar McGrath also predicted 5-0 in every other ashes series he played in. It's what he did.

  • on July 8, 2013, 8:14 GMT

    remember cut off the head and two more grow back just overcareful of what you are saying

  • jonesy2 on July 8, 2013, 5:52 GMT

    if there is a bowler Australia have consistently dominated it has been swann. englands bowling is going to cop plenty of punishment they do not have two decent bowlers to rub together. I think England are aiming for 5 draws to be honest and I think that's the only way they are going to have a chance of keeping the ashes

  • hotcric01 on July 8, 2013, 5:42 GMT

    Clarke is one of the best batsman against spin. He is better than lot of subcontinent batsmen.His foot movement against spinners is the best in the world right now.But with Swann's height his main strength is bounce and he drifts the ball in the air than most of other spinners.That can trouble best batsmen.We showed it in England's last game against Sri Lanka at P.Sara oval.He won the game for England troubling best players likes of Mahela,Sanga,Dilshan and Thilan. However Clarke is in in good form too.He would score significant amount of runs in this Ashes,if he doesn't get injured.

  • jmcilhinney on July 8, 2013, 5:32 GMT

    @Lyndon McPaul on (July 7, 2013, 13:03 GMT), if you read the story you will see that nowhere does Swann say that he personally is intending to target Clarke. Like so many others, you're giving the title more weight than the story. Swann's words and the rest of the story merely suggest that, as a team, England will be giving Clarke a bit of extra attention because his performance will mean so much to Australia. If he does well then the rest of the team may well lift but if he does poorly then it may demoralise them.

  • YorkshirePudding on July 8, 2013, 5:18 GMT

    If people read this and the sister article about Swann they will see that Swann hasnt said anything about "cutting off the head of the snake", hes stated that in the last could of series they've targeted specific players who where seen as a threat, these include Ponting, Clarke, and Hussey, and they have the same approach in this series.

    The problem is the England camp are not giving anything away, and staying very quiet, so the media take one interview and spin it a couple of ways.

  • svengali47 on July 8, 2013, 5:13 GMT

    The aim of this series should be to build for the return series downunda. They should be working on building the new players while hatching plans to counter Cook and co. on Aussie wickets. We need to blood Sandhu and Agar as well as Faulkner and use our fast bowlers well. Pick the bowler to suit the wicket for each test. Don't put too much pressure on Pattinson and continue to work on Starc's inswinger and all round game. The bowlers must have disciplined and well thought out plans to each batsmen and I mean right down to number 11. You can't let Broad and Swann get easy runs any more than Cook or Pietersen. And the batsmen must work on building partnerships and bleed for each other. a 2-2 draw or 2-1 series loss would feel huge going into our Aussie summer. But an Ashes win can work too if players play to their ability and don't read any newspapers until the series is over.

  • venkatesh018 on July 8, 2013, 4:06 GMT

    A little suggestion for Swanny- Go round the wicket as early as possible to both the right and left handers in the Aussie line up. There has been enough turn this season on English surfaces to bring the lbw into play for right handers. The sunny weather forecast for the Nottingham Test should also help keep the pitch dry.

  • popstar22 on July 8, 2013, 1:26 GMT

    This is a similar approach to the one that the West Indies fast bowlers in the 80's, but they also used bodyline bowling.

  • Deanwsmith on July 8, 2013, 1:14 GMT

    I have to laugh when the English talk about Anderson as being the best bowler in the world, when Siddle has a better average, strike rate AND economy rate and isn't probably not even going to get selected. Patto is going to carve up that batting line up like a hot knife through butter

  • MinusZero on July 7, 2013, 23:57 GMT

    I actually think Australia might do well with a new coach. As long as the selectors actually...select...then things are looking better. Clarke should have no influence on who is in the team.

  • Anneeq on July 7, 2013, 23:18 GMT

    This SHOULD be an absolute massacre!!! If ever England had a chance to win 5-0, itd be this series. My prediction is 3-0 tho, maybe Aus might win a game with a Clarke double century......

  • proteasfire on July 7, 2013, 18:58 GMT

    Bringing in a new coach like Darren Lehmann might turn the fortunes of Australia. The team has suffered mental block in the last few months because of a more serious approach by the management team and it had its impact on players like Watson. Now with a more friendly dugout, Australians might get on top of their game and will seriously challenge the English side. At the same time England recovered from its jitters in NZ and performed well in home series against the same opposition. Fans can expect an even contest from these two teams in this Ashes.

  • fatier on July 7, 2013, 18:44 GMT

    It won't be 1993 all over again.Will be a better ashes with both teams playing well rather than one team dominating the series

  • gm47 on July 7, 2013, 18:38 GMT

    The Aussies have 2 chances to win this series....... Slim and None :) :)

  • on July 7, 2013, 18:07 GMT

    I'm hoping that this series will be 1993 all over again! Check out the cricinfo match and series archive...

  • on July 7, 2013, 17:51 GMT

    Leave alone Swann, even if someone like Kevin Peteirsen were to bowl a few overs of intense offspin backed up by good fielding, this Aussie batting line up will wilt. Swann is a class act and irrespective of whether the surface aids him or not, he will be a handful for the Aussies. No one in this lineup except Michael Clarke has either the technique or the temperament required to play world-class spin bowling. They don't know how to play the waiting game. If at all they want to succeed they will quickly learn to need to graft. Because you will succeed in a few sessions only through grafting. With so many impulsive strokemakers this Aussie lineup seems inept at it.

  • PACERONE on July 7, 2013, 17:43 GMT

    The batsmen who come before Clarke has to bat for a long time.There is no need to rush.Take what they give you.If this is done then when and IF Clarke is needed he will dominate.England is good when they are on top,so if it looks even then they are suspect.

  • carban on July 7, 2013, 17:34 GMT

    @balaji kumar - er, mcgrath *always* said it would be 5-0 to australia... even before the series that aus ended up losing. he later admitted he would have felt unpatriotic if he'd said anything different. nothing mystical or freakish about it

  • 2.14istherunrate on July 7, 2013, 16:59 GMT

    Wonderful imagery-cutting the head off the serpent. Says it all ,really.

  • on July 7, 2013, 15:08 GMT

    so now everyone is saying australians are going to lose ...I dont know what will be their face after the first test

  • H_Z_O on July 7, 2013, 15:03 GMT

    @Sunil_Batra Watson always looks good in warmups ;). He's got the talent to score runs but he needs to convert on his starts. Being an opener in England he'll get the odd good one early on and nick off so when he's in he has to capitalise. Hughes has looked good at times during the warmups and Khawaja didn't play against Worcs so we've no idea if he would have done any better. Smith looked good against Worcs.

    Honestly I think Watson, Rogers, Clarke, Hughes, Smith and Haddin could all score runs this series. Equally they could all struggle. Clarke's still the key, though, he's a cut above the rest (even the England batsmen) so getting him out will be crucial if England are to have a chance.

    Australia also probably won't need as big a total as England would. Not only are we more dependent on our spinner for wickets but we score more slowly so we're likely to struggle for time (to take wickets or chase runs). Your lot score quickly, they just need to score enough to give you a shot.

  • Amith_S on July 7, 2013, 14:34 GMT

    @EdwardAnderson i would add one more to your list of key players, Bird as his bowling is very much suited to English conditions. This gives us Watson, Khawaja and Rogers in the batting and Starc, Bird and Pattinson in the bowling, we need these guys to make their series their own.

  • Mary_786 on July 7, 2013, 14:29 GMT

    @EdwardAnderson i like your pics, Watson, Khawaja, Starc and Pattinson fo rme as ewll, they will be key for us.

  • Sunil_Batra on July 7, 2013, 14:27 GMT

    @HZO i agree with EdwardAnderson and this is why. Both Watson and Khawaja have looked alot better in the warm up games with top scores inspired by boof's leadership, so i think they will carry that confidence through the ashes. Rogers simply because of his county form will do good. Hughes i am not sure about because he had issues with swing bowling and spin bowling,i woudl love for him to do well but lets see if he has overcome those issues. We need him to fire as well.

  • H_Z_O on July 7, 2013, 13:58 GMT

    @landl47 Exactly. What next "Scoring lots of runs then bowling the other side out cheaply wins you Test matches"?

    All this talk of Starc targeting Cook, Swann targeting Clarke, Pattinson being out for revenge for his brother's selection, it's all nonsense designed to hype up what will likely be a fiercely contested series that doesn't need all the hype. I could see this being another 2005, except with the roles reversed (England the favourites, a successful and experienced team, Australia the underdogs but with a pace battery to fear and a couple of young batsmen looking to make their mark).

  • H_Z_O on July 7, 2013, 13:50 GMT

    @Edwards_Anderson surprising you should choose those three. Rogers is unproven at Test level and Khawaja, much as I think he has a lot of potential, hasn't scored a Test century yet. Watson's issue is converting starts, but I can see him getting 50s. Hughes is the one I could see having a good series. If he can cut out the wafting at wide ones early in his innings, I can see him scoring centuries. He has scored them against Steyn so who says he can't play swing? His conversion rate is 50%. Watson has a conversion rate of 10%. I could see Haddin getting runs too (scored plenty in the 2009 series, more than Hussey in fact). Smith's the dark horse for me. Looked a much more mature player in India, could be in line for his first Test ton this series.

    In other words the Australian batting isn't as bad as people make out. But Clarke's still key, psychologically if nothing else. If he sticks around with the young batsmen like Hughes and Smith, they'll feed off him. If not, they may collapse.

  • reddawn1975 on July 7, 2013, 13:20 GMT

    LOL Swann your not good enough to dominate Clarke if he is batting well he will be very very hard to handle for both spin and quicks have you you seen him bat of late...Watch out for this Australian team although i truly wish Shawn Marsh and Mitch Johnson where in the squad

  • landl47 on July 7, 2013, 12:58 GMT

    If you get out the other side's best batsman cheaply, that's good. Nice spot, Swanny.

    These sides really are wheeling out the clichés. Lehmann wants his batsmen to make hundreds. Starc (an opening bowler) is going to target Cook (an opening batsman). Anderson thinks England is stronger with Pietersen- 22 test centuries, average nearly 50- in the side.

    It's time to stop talking and start playing.

  • scowland on July 7, 2013, 12:15 GMT

    Swann was kept relatively quiet over in Oz last Ashes but Australia succumbed to Enland's pace attack then, a weaker pace attack on paper than they possess now.

  • HansonKoch on July 7, 2013, 12:09 GMT

    @Edwards_Anderson Khawaja, you reckon. What's he done lately? I'd have thought his most likely position would be on the plane back to Australia. I'm yet to see any of his proponents point to any example of why he should be in the team.

  • on July 7, 2013, 11:30 GMT

    This is an interesting article. I bet the Aussie batters think the same thing about Swan (cut of the head ect) the Aussie line up play pace very well (just look at the amount of runs made against South Africa, a much better pace attack than England) but are poor against quality spin (see the India series) if they manage to keep Swan to a couple of wickets per test they will go a long way to winning the ashes.

  • pinn on July 7, 2013, 10:56 GMT

    Australia record is poor in the recent time, reason since they haven't collectively clicked. Other than spin, they have class players in all the departments. It is just a matter of the first test. Even if they draw it a positive mindset, it will be a opener for Aus. On the other hand, if they fail in the first test, then for sure, they are going to be trashed 4-1 or 5-0.

    Looking out for a great series ! Especially Anderson's classic swing and reverse swings. Also let the rain stays away during the match timings :-)

  • Edwards_Anderson on July 7, 2013, 10:51 GMT

    Clarke will not be our only batsman, he is our best but guys like Watson, Rogers and Khawaja will also stand up so best for them to focus on a few of our batsman. And they better be ware of Starc and Pattinson who will have big series.

  • PFEL on July 7, 2013, 10:17 GMT

    4-1 to Aus would be a lucky result for England this series. Barring bad weather, it's highly unlikely that any result other than Aus 5-0 will occur.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on July 7, 2013, 9:27 GMT

    Australia are in massive trouble going in to the Ashes, but we've all known that for months, years now. Having been thrashed last Ashes in Aus by England, a superior English batting unit, and a bowling and fielding side that has proved better than Oz every time they've met, looks set to be the difference again. As for keeping, it's so well established that it doesn't need saying that England's Prior is the best keeper/batsman in the world (and has been for a long long time) and Australia's is most definitely not. Australia also continue to not think a spinner who can turn the ball is important, instead opting for a seamer to fill the role. England's 'Spin Twins' must find that hilarious. The gulf between these sides, as we've all witness for 5+ years, is Massive.

  • on July 7, 2013, 9:20 GMT

    Well due to the problem that Aus encountered b4 the Ashes by firing the coach and Warner with his discipline problem. I'm surely certain that's the way to go nothing frustrate a team when the skipper isn't doing well with the bat, but it can also backfire if Clarke scores a century in every test of the ashes so Swann needs to keep his secrets to himself.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on July 7, 2013, 9:04 GMT

    So let's see: Starc targets Cook; Swann targets Clarke; Pattinson targets every batsman... It's starting to sound like a school playground again. When are these players going to realise they're playing against a TEAM, and must perform well against that TEAM - not just against one PLAYER in that TEAM. If one player falls, the others need to step up and perform - that's the whole idea of team games is it not?

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on July 7, 2013, 9:04 GMT

    So let's see: Starc targets Cook; Swann targets Clarke; Pattinson targets every batsman... It's starting to sound like a school playground again. When are these players going to realise they're playing against a TEAM, and must perform well against that TEAM - not just against one PLAYER in that TEAM. If one player falls, the others need to step up and perform - that's the whole idea of team games is it not?

  • on July 7, 2013, 9:20 GMT

    Well due to the problem that Aus encountered b4 the Ashes by firing the coach and Warner with his discipline problem. I'm surely certain that's the way to go nothing frustrate a team when the skipper isn't doing well with the bat, but it can also backfire if Clarke scores a century in every test of the ashes so Swann needs to keep his secrets to himself.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on July 7, 2013, 9:27 GMT

    Australia are in massive trouble going in to the Ashes, but we've all known that for months, years now. Having been thrashed last Ashes in Aus by England, a superior English batting unit, and a bowling and fielding side that has proved better than Oz every time they've met, looks set to be the difference again. As for keeping, it's so well established that it doesn't need saying that England's Prior is the best keeper/batsman in the world (and has been for a long long time) and Australia's is most definitely not. Australia also continue to not think a spinner who can turn the ball is important, instead opting for a seamer to fill the role. England's 'Spin Twins' must find that hilarious. The gulf between these sides, as we've all witness for 5+ years, is Massive.

  • PFEL on July 7, 2013, 10:17 GMT

    4-1 to Aus would be a lucky result for England this series. Barring bad weather, it's highly unlikely that any result other than Aus 5-0 will occur.

  • Edwards_Anderson on July 7, 2013, 10:51 GMT

    Clarke will not be our only batsman, he is our best but guys like Watson, Rogers and Khawaja will also stand up so best for them to focus on a few of our batsman. And they better be ware of Starc and Pattinson who will have big series.

  • pinn on July 7, 2013, 10:56 GMT

    Australia record is poor in the recent time, reason since they haven't collectively clicked. Other than spin, they have class players in all the departments. It is just a matter of the first test. Even if they draw it a positive mindset, it will be a opener for Aus. On the other hand, if they fail in the first test, then for sure, they are going to be trashed 4-1 or 5-0.

    Looking out for a great series ! Especially Anderson's classic swing and reverse swings. Also let the rain stays away during the match timings :-)

  • on July 7, 2013, 11:30 GMT

    This is an interesting article. I bet the Aussie batters think the same thing about Swan (cut of the head ect) the Aussie line up play pace very well (just look at the amount of runs made against South Africa, a much better pace attack than England) but are poor against quality spin (see the India series) if they manage to keep Swan to a couple of wickets per test they will go a long way to winning the ashes.

  • HansonKoch on July 7, 2013, 12:09 GMT

    @Edwards_Anderson Khawaja, you reckon. What's he done lately? I'd have thought his most likely position would be on the plane back to Australia. I'm yet to see any of his proponents point to any example of why he should be in the team.

  • scowland on July 7, 2013, 12:15 GMT

    Swann was kept relatively quiet over in Oz last Ashes but Australia succumbed to Enland's pace attack then, a weaker pace attack on paper than they possess now.

  • landl47 on July 7, 2013, 12:58 GMT

    If you get out the other side's best batsman cheaply, that's good. Nice spot, Swanny.

    These sides really are wheeling out the clichés. Lehmann wants his batsmen to make hundreds. Starc (an opening bowler) is going to target Cook (an opening batsman). Anderson thinks England is stronger with Pietersen- 22 test centuries, average nearly 50- in the side.

    It's time to stop talking and start playing.