Simple Brilliance From England and What Now For Australia?

7 12 2010

What a win! As many people have already said and will no doubt continue to say for some time, that was about the best all round performance we have seen for quite some time – if not ever – from England. Where Australia go from here it is difficult to say although England need to be wary as, surely, the only way is up!

Still, despite the need for not an ounce of complacency, England can rest in the knowledge that they are undoubtedly the better side and should win the Ashes. Not just retain them – win them. Imagine the crowds at the MCG if Australia are 2-0 down… Awash with English supporters would probably be an accurate description and, as is already happening, a distinct dearth of Aussies.

The game was unfortunately not entirely without blight for England with the abdominal injury to Stuart Broad. His focus has now shifted to ensuring he is fit for the World Cup in February next year and will travel home rather than stay with the squad. He has had a solid rather than spectacular two Ashes tests and despite his lack of wickets had done an admirable job holding up one end. Sadly for him he misses out on the pitch he would probably have enjoyed most, the WACA, and is no doubt sorely disappointed to be missing the rest of what could be a resoundingly memorable trip.

His loss is another’s opportunity however and in this case one of Bresnan, Tremlett and Shahzad will be the lucky one picked. Tremlett is the most obvious replacement being another tall, hit the deck, fast bowler. Bresnan provides a swing option more akin to Anderson and Shahzad a hustle and bustle type with the ability to reverse swing.

We suspect that Bresnan will be the initial player to be discounted as Tremlett on the WACA is an enticing prospect with his pace and bounce. Our personal pick at the Compulsive Hooker would be Shahzad though as he impressed us in his two appearances over the Summer. Whoever comes in does need to pick up the baton immediately though as, while he didn’t take many wickets, Broad, it could be argued, assisted Finn, Anderson and Swann in picking up the theirs by keeping the pressure on.

England move on to Victoria now to play a three day game against the state in what is likely to be a straight bowl off between these three. Eoin Morgan is likely to get his first game of the tour and will be looking to impress should his opportunity come through injury later in the series. Steven Davies too may get a game and let Prior have a rest or play simply as a batsman.

For Australia things are far less simple. Probably their best batsman of recent times, Simon Katich, is out of the series. Doherty is clearly not the answer to their spin woes. Bollinger belied his excellent record to bowl with no venom at all. Siddle appears to be largely ineffective and Marcus North is playing as a spin bowler. At least Ryan Harris showed that he offers something with the ball – even if he is apparently too high with the bat at 8.

Factor in other worries, albeit of a much smaller nature by comparison, such as whether Watson’s best position is truly opening (openers are supposed to score hundreds not fifties), Ponting’s own lack of form and you have potent mix ripe for combustion.

The best Australian team is probably this one in our view: Jacques, Watson, Ponting, Clarke, Hussey, Khawaja, Haddin, Hauritz, Harris, Siddle, Bollinger.

The problem is of course that even to casual cricket followers this is fraught with its own problems. Jacques, despite being supremely unlucky to have never regained his opening birth after a brilliant start to his test career, is only averaging 22 in Sheffield Shield cricket. Khawaja would be on debut although he, at least, is having a good season. Hauritz was dropped like a hot potato and his recall would mean a massive loss of face for the selectors to pick him so soon again whilst Bollinger was simply dreadful in Adelaide.

With Hilditch and company’s recent record of chopping and changing don’t be surprised by any side that is picked. Even Johnson, that widely derided chucker of pies, is possibly in line for a recall!

What is perhaps most likely though to happen is that Phil Hughes would come in for Katich and Khawaja for Doherty with North batting at 8 and providing the spin options on what is likely to be a seamers pitch anyway. In short though, who knows?!

England are undoubtedly, barring Broad’s injury, in the best shape possible while Australia (and we never thought we would write this sentence) are a confused, out of form and distinctly average mess!*

* We are praying that this doesn’t come back to haunt us as England, against all odds, rediscover their frailties we hope they have lost for the forseeable future!





2 responses

7 12 2010

Interesting thought on Jacques; the general conscensus seems to be that Hughes will be in. He is talented but England found him out very quickly before.

What do you think of the other Hussey? One thing is for certain is that he like Mike has talent and heart. There will be cries of one day specialist etc. but look at Morgan’s contribution since stepping up. One thing the Oz team needs is some fire and some passion David will bring it.

Brilliant performance from England, great stuff to watch, bring on Victoria and see how the Broad (gutted about his loss) replacement competition comes along; and then on to Perth. Cannot wait!

8 12 2010

Hughes also is a good player – and younger too which is why perhaps the selectors are thinking of him first – but I’ve always felt sorry for Jacques. Average of 47 and three hundreds in ten tests isn’t bad at all! Got injured and by then Katich had taken over and couldn’t get back in the team.

I like David Hussey personally and don’t think he’s a one day specialist at all – good as he is in that form. Actually thinking about it picking an experienced cool head might be about the best thing they could do although in the middle order Khawaja is having a good season too.

Can’t wait either!

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