For an in depth look at the Australian test squad I hand over to guest blogger Davey Smalls:
Now that the red dust has settled on the Indian pitches and tour, we now head to the Old Dart to take on the Motherland.
Recent history has not been kind to us in the battle for the Ashes, and I fail to see how this one will be any different. However, this is my take on the squad;
Michael Clarke (Capt.) – Tests 92, Runs 7275, Avg. 52.34, 23 100’s.
Clarke is still suffering his back issue and it will continue to get worse as he looks to carry this Australian team through a cold, brutal English summer. Averaged just below 50 in the Indian series which was a fine return from the skipper. Will need to be at his very, very best if Australia are any chance to return the urn.
Brad Haddin (VC) – 44, 2308 Runs @ 35.51, 3 100’s.
One out of the box as someone who was not considered good enough to keep for Australia upon his return from leave for ‘personal reasons’ now finds himself in the leadership group and back as the number 1 wicket keeper despite not having improved at the tender age of 35. Old T.D Watson is to be blamed for this selection as he decided he no longer wanted the responsibility of being a Vice Captain (cutting oranges, collecting $10 from all the chaps to pay for the umpires etc.) Will hopefully sure up some of the difficulties Australia have been having behind the stumps.
Jackson Bird – 2 matches, 11 wickets @ 16.18.
Promising start to his career V Sri Lanka was halted due to, surprise surprise, injury. If he could stay on the park could be prove to be a handful in what would prove to be helpful conditions. English pitches promise to have plenty of juice in them so should be able to extract some movement off the straight.
Edward Cowan – 17 matches, 987 runs @ 41.45, 1 100.
Made a handful of 30’s and 40’s on the subcontinent. A handy contributor without really helping, but he wasn’t alone. Trapped LBW six times in India and his fate may be the same this series (provided he bats 6 times). If he is not out LBW he will be bowled by the ball ducking back into him as the English rub lolly after lolly into the red duke. Will need to start converting some starts if he wishes to play in the return Ashes series later in the year.
James Faulkner – 0 matches.
A much better selection than Glenn Maxwell or Steve Smith. Had a good year with the Tassie Tigers and was awarded Man of the Match in the Tigers shield triumph. A bowling all rounder who won’t be selected for his batting talents. Will need to swing the ball in England (if picked) to be effective. Will provide some handy hitting down the order after Warner and co fail to do the job.
Ryan Harris – 12 matches, 47 wickets @ 23.63, 2 5w’s.
A star that, if fit, will just behind Clarke as Australias most important man in the series. Took 7/139 in Shield Final and almost won the match for the Bulls. A much needed player who may not get picked at all due to the strength of the Aussie pace barrage.
Phil Hughes – 24 matches, 1452 runs @ 33.00, 3 100’s.
Good old Filthy may be on his last legs once again. Had a terrible time in India, at one stage facing over 50 balls for a return of one run from the Indian spinners. English conditions should suit his play more than the low slow turners of Calcutta, but the swinging ball may prove to be his downfall. May need to see his mentor in county cricket for a long long session prior to putting the pads on. It’s not all bad news for the Filth Man though, should Haddin get injured, Phil will be the first choice back up for the gloves I am sure.
Usman Khawaja – 6 matches, 263 runs @ 29.22, 0 100’s.
Proving quite adept at carrying the Kia-Ora. Won’t play.
Nathan Lyon – 22 matches, 76 wickets @ 33.18, 3 5w’s.
Dropped for the second Test in India for unknown reasons he came back to take a 7fa later in the series. Has been the best of the plethora of spinners tried since the retirements of Messrs Warne and MacGill. Would most likely have more than 100 wickets had it not been for the ordinary glovework and slips catching he has had to bowl too. Don’t think Australia will go into any Test with an all pace battery, so unless Warne or MacGill decide to whack the whites on again, Lyon to play every Test.
James Pattinson – 10 matches, 40 @ 23.37, 3 5w’s.
Going to be a tough ask to fit all of the fast bowlers into the team, but with informed player management taking over, all are sure to break down at some stage. Back when the Aussies were successful they had a little thing they liked to call ‘continuity’ but with each passing generation, they think they know more. Will need to bowl extremely well in the lead up to be assured a spot, but has a bit of mongrel in him and would love to see him getting in the faces of the English “pace” attack.
Chris Rogers – 1 match, 19 runs @ 9.50, 0 100’s.
Rogers earns a recall after his one Test cap in 2008. Has made a mountain of runs for Victoria and, since his selection, has also piled up runs for Middlesex in England. If selectors are looking at recent form and a ‘horses for courses’ selection policy, he must be considered to play in England. However, will most likely be there just incase one of the 5 back up opening batsmen get injured.
Peter Siddle – 41 matches, 150 wickets @ 28.84, 7 5w’s.
Led the way in India with both skill and endeavour. Took 24 wickets in the last series against India, while also knocking up a couple of half tonnes with the bat. Will lead the pace attack once again in England and will get a bit of sideways nip to just trouble the English top order. Unless informed player management rears its ugly head, will play every Test.
Mitchell Starc – 9 matches, 30 wickets @ 34.03, 2 5w’s.
Starc has taken 6 wickets in three Tests this year but amazingly will still be the favourite for a spot in the First Test. After the Black Caps left armers put some hurt on the English top order in both innings of the last Test, the selectors will be excited to see what Starc will bring. They will be hoping for the Kallis unplayable ball, he’ll be hoping it’s not like the rest of the trash he has served up and the results will be somewhere in the middle. Handy lower order tonker and will feel aggrieved that David Warner bats ahead of him in Test cricket.
Matthew Wade – 12 matches, 623 runs @ 34.61, 2 100’s.
Had a shocking tour of India with the gloves, which is not unsurprising in itself as it was his first tour there, but his batting was equally as bad. A victim of Shane Watsons bone idleness with the Vice Captaincy, which forced Brad Haddin to be recalled for leadership purposes. Haddin is now favourite to start in each game which will mean Wade can either play a few one dayers and eat a lot of curries or try to take Watsons spot as a batting all rounder. Bowls a heavy ball.
David Warner – 19 matches, 1263 runs @ 39.46, 3 100’s.
Old Hurricane Warner. Two Richards Warner. Motor Mouth Warner. Tweets like he bats, with all out attack and very little thought process as to what is actually going on. Will struggle to reach 20 on the decking English pitches but is short priced favourite at the tote to punch a journo in the face. Not sure how the man can be upset at stories circulating that he is paid too much to do too little, as it has been a known fact since his debut. Needs to toughen up a bit or will be rolled for nothing against the Poms.
Shane Watson – 41 matches, 2580 runs @ 35.34, 2 100’s.
Never in the history of Australian Test cricket has one man been given so much and delivered so little in return. Had injury not intervened ‘Watto’ could have played upwards of 80 Test matches for our country and scored 3 hundreds and 50 Test 50’s. Homework-gate has done a lot to ruin his reputation as he stormed out mid-tour to “think about his future” only to then recall himself and be CAPTAIN!! How he continues to thrive under this system is no surprise, it is a buddy club that celebrates mediocrity… like Gimpy G. Will play every game, will make a few 40’s, bowl 8 overs and take a wicket. Mediocre is what he does.
Having said all that, I still believe the Aussies are half a chance to sneak in a series victory. If our batting can withstand their assault then our bowlers can do some damage. We need to give them something to bowl at however.
My prediction – Australia 2-1.
Well I agree with all of that Smalls except the prediction. For me it will be England 3-1. Their batting looks far superior to ours and they will be comfortable in home conditions.
What’s your prediction for the Ashes?