Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The Middle Stump's Ashes preview

In a matter of hours, England and Australia go head to head in Brisbane, and having heard everyone give their opinion on the series, we thought we would chip in with ours. The build up has been immense with Shane Warne being the most vociferous in his critical views of Alastair Cook's captaincy. Already the Aussies are crowing and we are anticipating a closely fought series, with England retaining the Ashes.

Clarke...winless in 2013
Warnie has been extremely outspoken about the perceived negativity of Captain Cook but the long and short of it, is that he has lost just one Test in eighteen. Likewise, he has been eulogising about Michael Clarke but for all of his thoughtful field placings and ambitious bowling changes, you and I have won as many Tests as the Australian has in 2013. Surely a skipper is to be judged on how many games he actually wins?? Only Miley Cyrus can usurp the blond Victorian for making outrageous comments in recent days!

The Australian press are a strange beast. The bitterness of the likes of Malcolm Conn when England players watered the Oval pitch after winning the Ashes was a strange sight to see from such a respected journalist, and Warne's comments when everyone else thinks he is talking complete bollocks, are just as bizarre.

Unlike Mitchell Johnson's bowling, this man has been in One Direction

Back to the cricket and the Aussies are in a bit of a quandary. Fearful of producing flat, decent wickets after our batting there two years ago, they also know that producing turning wickets with their lack of spin options is akin to a date with Joanna Dennehy. So generally they will produce hard, bouncing wickets or so we thought? The Gabba, albeit two days before the test and before its final haircut, looked about as green as Kermit's arse. Maybe they will try and produce seaming green tops to utilise the strength of Siddle, Harris and Co? It's a dangerous game though, especially when James Anderson lies in wait for the opposition.

As mentioned their big trump card is the Aussie pace attack, which is just as good as ours, whilst other aspects of their game I don't think are. Ryan Harris showed what a good bowler he is over here this summer, and whilst Peter Siddle may have teeth like the boyband One Direction (there's only five of them and they are all bent), he will run in all day. Talking of One Direction I think the series hinges on a man whose bowling has gone in in numerous directions in recent years, and that is Mitchell Johnson.

Johnson is seriously quick and has been getting it together recently. Bowling twenty overs in a day though in a Test match is a completely different kettle of fish from ten or twelve in a one day affair but when he gets it right, he's a handful. With Trott's perceived weakness against the short stuff, he could be a match winner and expect him to do well at Perth. When the Doctor comes in behind him, and no we aren't talking Shipman or Crippen here, but the Fremantle Doctor, he can be a right handful as he showed last time in Perth. He can bat too, but whether he can ignore the Barmy Army with their song about his wife hating his mum, and vice versa is a different matter. I'm sure every Englishman who was there that day when they sang it, will remember young Mitchell stopping as he ran in to bowl, to suggest that they were exponents of the art of masturbating!

Christmas Day in the Johnson house according to the Barmy Army!

English bowling is another key to this series and I wouldn't look too far past Anderson or Swann for the leading wicket taker. Cook will surely have a better summer than he had in England, and Carberry will be his partner at the top of the order, with Root dropping back to six.

The Aussie top order will score runs, and I can foresee this series being far closer than the one in England. With the width of a rizla paper separating these two teams, I'm going to go for a draw at Brisbane, which is 9-4 by the way, followed by a couple of wins apiece in a drawn series. Like the South African Archbishop Desmond, I am going for 2-2 with England retaining the Ashes. That is providing the Aussies have remembered how to win a game.

Our prediction for the series

The phoney media war is over. Let the battle commence...