Sunday, 10 November 2013

England’s Defence of the Ashes

by Sampad Sengupta


England's Ashes squad
It was only a couple of months ago that England beat Australia 3-0 and retained the Ashes.  Now it’s time for them to defend it again as they prepare to face Australia in their own backyard.  The Australians will try their utmost to turn around what has been a poor spell for them and regain some pride after being humbled by England.  The visitors will also look to carry on their good form and put on a good show Down Under. 

England were early to announce their 17-man squad and sprung a few surprises by selecting Test debutants Gary Ballance and Ben Stokes along with a plethora of fast-bowling options.  The inclusions of Boyd Rankin, Chris Tremlett and Steven Finn ahead of someone like Graham Onions were debated; one would think that Onions brings some variety to the side whereas the other three are all similar towering fast-bowlers.  With most of the team picking itself, the places up for grabs were competed for by all those who got a chance in the warm-up games.  In the two matches so far, the bowlers have done nothing special and the third seamer slot remains open, the batting however, has been much more exciting.  After hitting a remarkable century against Australia-A and forming a formidable opening partnership with captain Alastair Cook, Hampshire batsman Michael Carberry has now emerged as the frontrunner to come into the starting XI, with Joe Root likely to bat lower down the order.  Another player to watch out for would be England’s spin maestro, Graeme Swann, and how well he can dominate the Aussies.  If England players can overcome their injury scares and remain fit throughout the series, then Andy Flower and Cook would be left with a difficult task of team selection, which may not be a bad problem to have.

Australia have plenty to think about
Australia being the hosts have the luxury of not having to announce their squad early and keep the opposition in suspense.  It would be interesting to see how they shape up and whether they would look to field a similar line-up to the ones they did in England.  Once again, a lot would depend on the form and fitness of their captain Michael Clarke and the performances of senior players like Watson, Warner and Haddin.  The recent displays by middle-order batsman George Bailey, who has been in scintillating form of late, would be encouraging.  The bowling attack looks to be shaky with most of their top players out with injury and it remains to be seen who leads the attack.  It is make-or- break for the Aussies as they look to establish themselves once again as a leading Test nation.


The mind games have already begun with Shane Warne criticising Cook’s captaincy and the England captain letting his bat do the talking in the game against Australia-A where he notched up his 45th First-class century.  The visitors have also been under the scanner for handing in a long list of catering demands which has not gone down well with Australians, who are ready to scrutinise their opponents’ every move.  With both teams charged up and ready to battle it out in the middle, spectators should be in for a treat as the first Test gets under way on 21st November.  It’s going to be tough competition on the field and let’s hope it brings an end to the debate and questions such as, “should Broad have walked?” 


England's openers
 

8 comments:

  1. A good piece of writing that tells everybody quite a bit of things.

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  2. We will come back at the Assies one day

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  3. But well done Ben Stokes

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  4. England did terrible defending the ashes with a 5-0 whitewash

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  5. ENGLAND=5-0 WHITEWASH
    EPIC FAIL

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  6. william watts-jones8 January 2014 at 12:17

    I can't belive England was white washed! : (

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  7. Thomas Furtado-Mills 7V10 January 2014 at 14:25

    We'll thrash them next time

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  8. England, terrible loss. 5-0

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