THE ASHES ARE COMING. The England and Australia test series is the most well known and most anticipated test series in the world. And this year will be no different as England look for revenge after their 5-0 series embarrasment in Australia.
The Ashes series dates back to 1882 when Australia beat England on English soil for the first time and the English press printed a satirical obituary that read ” English cricket has died, and the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.” And the English have been struggling to regain them ever since.
The two sides have had some epic encounters over the years and this years series is alreading shaping up to be a massive battle between two sides that are both trying to re build.
Australia have had a lot of their key players retire in recent years. The likes of Gilchrist and Hayden will certainly be missed, but it is the blond locks of Shane Warne that they will notice missing the most. The textpert finger spinner has had the best of the English batsmen for years, from the miracle ball that bowled Mike Gatting to his forty wicket hall in the last Ashes series where he left Kevin Pieterson in a tangled mess on the floor. It is true that Australia will never find a carbon copy replacement for Warnie. Players of that calibre only come around once in a generation, but I feel that so far they haven’t even found a spinner that would be worthy of spit shinning Shane’s protective box. This means that they will be relying mainly a pace attack that includes a half fit Brett Lee and out of form Stuart Clark.
England on the other hand have been having all sorts of in house problems. Kevin Pieterson spat his dummy out and resigned the captaincy after a disagreement with the then coach Peter Moores who was later sacked. They have bounced back somewhat from a disasterous tour of the West Indies, beating them 2-0 in the return series in England, but there are some injury clouds hanging over the squad that could be their downfall. Micheal Vaughn will probably not be picked, while pace bowler Simon Jones who terrorised Australia on their last visit to English shores is still battling long term injury. But it is the question marks surrounding Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff that have got the Barmy Army more worried. Pieterson is adament he will be fully fit for the Ashes series after he pulled out of the one day series with the West Indies.
ECB chief medical officer Nick Peirce said “The Achilles injury flared up after the secnd Test and the best course of treatment is for Kevin to rest throughout the NatWest Series. “By giving him a precautionary period of time out to receive some concentrated treatment and rest we are enabling the niggle to settle down in preparation of the ICC World Twenty20 and the Ashes.”
Pietersen added:”I’m extremely disappointed to be missing the NatWest Series as I was looking forward to playing a significant part in what should be an exciting and closely-fought one-day series. The medical advice is to rest the achilles and although I’m frustrated to be leaving a happy and successful dressing room I’m absolutely confident this will help me overcome what has up until now been a minor ongoing injury.”
Andrew Flintoff is also a doubt and Australian Captain Ricky Ponting has already started the mind games by saying that “England would be taking a massive risk if they were to play Flintoff half fit.” But Flintof is expected to be in the starting line and lets face it if he could get to the crease in a wheel chair England would need him.
So who is going to win?
My money is well and truly on the Australians for this one. England rely to heavily on Flintoff and Pietersen to perform and will once again fall flat on their faces.