Sam Marsh previews the upcoming Ashes series.
One of the biggest sporting occasions of this already massive sporting year is only days away with one of sport’s biggest rivalries fighting over one of sports smallest trophies. I -of course- refer to the Ashes Cricket series between England and Australia. As a massive cricket fan I have been looking forward to this moment for 18 months as England look for revenge against the side that whitewashed them in Australia in 2013/14.
The Aussies have to be the favourites for this series with the number 1 ranked test batsman in the world (Steve Smith) in their ranks with a selection of other quality batsmen (Michael Clarke, Shaun Marsh, Chris Rogers, David Warner) and also some pretty deadly pace bowlers. The threat of Mitchell Johnson has been somewhat bulled recently as he struggles in English conditions as the pitches aren’t as hard as the ones he is used to playing on in Australia so he will not get as much bounce and a top quality batsman will give him a smack, the real threat this summer is going to be Mitchell Starc, who bowls at a stupid pace (88+mph) and still gets the ball to swing both ways this is unheard, and in those conditions he will be near impossible to face if he gets into his rhythm. With Ryan Harris announcing his retirement recently there is now room for players like Josh Hazelwood (Seam Bowler) and Fawad Ahmed (Leg Spinner) to stand up and be counted, although it is more likely that Hazelwood will play as Nathan Lyon in currently Australia’s premier spinner. So the Ausssies are looking strong and out to cause misery to the cricketing public of England.
England should be out for blood, no matter what Alistair Cook says to the press he needs to be ruthless as a captain, as his captaincy could well depend on this series, so he is under pressure, so are Ian Bell and Gary Ballance, both of whom are short on international runs right now but have scored a few back for their respective counties recently, so too is Moeen Ali, he has been selected recent tests as England’s lead spin bowler, now he is a batsman who bowls a bit, that is his role for his county, but England see him as something completely different and has been suffering for it as a result. With the introduction of Adil Rashid to the England team this should give him some competition for the series. And like Moeen, Rashid can also bat, he averages over 35 in first class cricket. The rest of England’s batting order looks good, young dynamic players like Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Adam Lyth and Jos Buttler all of whom can score runs and are in good form on the international stage.
The England bowling attack also has some interesting battles within it now, like the spinners the seam bowlers have competition among themselves now. Steve Finn has been reinvigorated recently and now competes with Stuart Broad for England’s bowling enforcer role, Mark wood looks a certainty to play due to his recent performances and his pace, also he has something no Aussie will have with him, an imaginary horse he takes onto the field, and James Anderson, a quality swing bowler should takes wickets in the conditions he loves.
This is shaping up to be an absolute cracker of a series and hopefully it delivers, before this article ends I shall run though the England team I would start for the first test on Wednesday.
Here’s to a good series!