An Ashes Exchange Of Views – Part 1 – Dmitri Asks, Dennis Answers


As part of this blog’s build up to the Ashes, I got in touch with perennial doubter of all things English, a pox on our establishment, the itch we cannot scratch, but once I’d finished talking to myself (again) I wrote to Dennis of Dennis Does Cricket (in)fame(y) to exchange some questions in the run-up to the Ashes. In Part 1, I have Dennis’s views on 10 questions I posed, with an open-ended bit at the end.

So, here goes chaps. Dennis speaks. Feel free to comment.

1. Last time we met, it was 5-0. Ask a lot of England fans a few months ago and we’d have predicted the same (with some caveats for the weather). What do Aussies think the score will be?

Before I answer this, let’s address your caveat. Don’t you find it amazing that the English created a sport that is reliant on the weather?

In Australia, we think Hobart is a cold and wet place. The next land you hit going south is Antarctica. 16% of Australia’s rain fall sin Tasmania.

But as it turns out, the UK is closer to the North Pole than Tasmania is to the South Pole.

Anyhow, I digress.

I would suggest that Australians are still rather optimistic about the Ashes result. England couldn’t beat the West Indies. Hell, you even lost a Test to them. How does that happen? You couldn’t win the Test series against New Zealand at home. Last year you lost to Sri Lanka at home. You did beat India, but who doesn’t when they are on the road? I almost forgot that you let Ishant Sharma bounce you out with an old ball at Lord’s.

So, given that and given you have a horrible captain and given your Test side hasn’t had the positive change like the ODI side and given the fact that Australia hasn’t lost a Test for two years and given man for man, England probably don’t win even one spot, Australia will win the Ashes easily.

4-0. Nah, stuff it. 5-0.

2. Are you persuaded by the new vibe coming from England of “positive” cricket? Lots of us were surprised in the New Zealand test series by a change in attitude. You buying it?

In the ODI space, yes.

But let’s look at the Test space. In both the West Indies and New Zealand series, England were 1-0 up. Then this so called ‘positive’ cricket vibe suddenly drained away and they lost the final Test.

That’s two chokes in a row. The South African culture is strong in the ECB.

So no, in the Test space, I don’t buy it. Cook is not a leader who creates positive vibes. Bell is out of form. Ballance has been found out. Broad is struggling. Moeen may not last until the third Test before being dropped.

There is no positive vibe when half the team is scared of losing their place in the side. I know this because I watched Australia pre-Boof.

3. I read that you didn’t think Ryan Harris should make the team? England fans palpitate at the very mention of his name. Is he really not going to play?

My detailed thoughts are documented in this article:

If you remove the emotive element, I can’t see how Harris plays in the First Test. The other three amigos just bowled Australia to a World Cup win and tore up the West Indies.

You don’t split up a winning formula. Harris hasn’t bowled competitively since the New Year’s Day Test in Sydney.

However, every time I watch this video, I second guess this stance: (Available, it seems, only to Australian viewers)

4. In 2013 we were hearing big things about James Pattinson. Now we are hearing big things about Josh Hazlewood. Should we take them seriously?

James was coming along swimmingly until he got injured. Don’t judge him on his brother’s efforts for England.

Unfortunately for James, the list of available fast bowlers in Australia is longer than the English tail.

Johnson, Starc, Hazlewood, Cummins, Pattinson, Harris, Bird, Siddle……and so on.

Hazlewood is the real deal. He is like Peter Siddle from the last series, but just 10 kph faster, gets more bounce and with Glenn McGrath’s lines.

Hazlewood is the reason why I don’t see an easy way for Harris to walk straight back in to the team.

5. Is Steve Smith lucky or great?

You don’t get to the number one ranked Test batsmen in the world by being simply lucky. In fact, his ranking points exceed anything Brian Lara achieved.

However, that doesn’t make him great, but he is well on the way. So is Joe Root and Kane Williamson.

In 2013, I wrote that if Smith gave up the leg spin and focused on his batting, he could become the next Steve Waugh. That won’t happen now as Smith is Australia’s number 3, rather than hiding at 4 or 5 like Waugh did and Root does now.

This Ashes should see Smith as the leading run maker. His form is that good. His technique ensures it is hard to bog him down. He plays spin brilliantly. He has cross bat shots. He can skamper quick singles.

His get out shot at the moment is either the pull shot bottom edged on to middle stump or the run out. England should set plans for both of these possible eventualities.

6. Who is commentating on this series for the Australian viewers. Will James Brayshaw be anywhere near it?

I’m not sure, except to say that Channel Nine are bringing over their own crew, rather than relying on Sky.

I think this is a poor outcome for Australian cricket fans.

The positive is that we get to see every match live on Free To Air television. No need for a Sky subscription in this part of the world. Remember that argument that there is no market for Test cricket on terrestial TV? The ECB are selling you a lemon.

7. Our older core of Broad, Anderson and Cook get a ton of stick from you. Which one of them do you fear might do you the most damage in this series?

None of them.

Anderson will take his 4 wickets a match. 2 or 3 of them will be lower order batsmen. This is not a prediction based on guesswork. It is based on historical fact and statistics. That makes him no better than Peter Siddle. Do England [rate] the banana eater?

Broad has the ability to take a quick 2 or 3 wickets with the new ball because he attacks, but his control is gone. Watching him bowl against New Zealand and the West Indies, he was way too short.

Cook will make a century somewhere, but I’d be surprised if he averages over 35 this series. The bowling attack is just too strong and Australia love to attack the opposing skipper. We will be given no free space to settle.

8. We’re all a bit keen on Joe Root at the moment who is in brilliant form. What’s your view on what you’ve seen?

I love him. Australia love him. He shows grit and attacks the game. He is mouthy in the field. He shows no fear.

The Root v Smith battle will be amazing.

9. Two of your older players are question marks. Shane Watson seems nailed on, am I right? And is Brad Haddin’s lack of form terminal or will he get it back playing against us again?

Both should be under strong scrutiny.

Watson looks much better at number 6 rather than at 1,2 or 3. However, even at number 6, he doesn’t produce like he should. This is especially evident when the contenders for his spot are Mitch Marsh (lost his place due to injury), James Faulkner (the last decent all rounder to play an Ashes Test for Australia in the UK but lost his place due to injury), Moises Henriques (not available due to injury) and Glenn Maxwell (will get another chance at some stage).

The other option is that Australia back their three quicks and Lyon, and then play a proper number 6 batsman. That would mean that Shaun Marsh and Voges both play. Perhaps a batting order or Warner, Rogers, Smith, Marsh, Clarke, Voges, Haddin.

Haddin was the saviour the last time we visited your Britain of Greatness. How pompous is that name?

In the last 12 Test matches, Nathan Lyon has averaged more with the bat than Haddin. That said, Haddin’s keeping is as good as anyone in the world at the moment. That is worth a wicket or two an innings, possibly off-setting any potential batting losses.

The understudy keeper is a guy named Neville. No, that’s his surname. His First Class batting average is 44. He is also much better with the gloves than say Buttler, Bairstow or Billings.

10. Give us a name that might surprise us from the Aussie party – I think I know who it might be – and one you think might give you some grief from England.

Nathan Lyon is the guy. This unassuming ex-Adelaide Oval groundsman will play the role that Graeme Swann played for you last time we met in the Northern Hemisphere.

He has slowed down his pace, allowing for more flight and drift. He creates more chances than even the quicks. He gets bounce. He gets great turn. His arm ball is brilliant. He is the best number 11 in the world.

Lyon will spin Australia to at least two wins on Day 4 or 5.

The person Australia would fear most is probably Rashid, but he won’t play until the ECB drop Moeen Ali. That won’t happen until after the series is lost.

Ben Stokes is probably good for a quick 80 somewhere and a 4 fer

11. Finally – Open House. What’s on your mind DDC with this series?

To be honest, I’m mostly looking forward to re-aquainting myself with the English cricket fans via social media and my site. Most are very knowledgeable about the game and I have made many friends due to being active during the previous few Ashes.

In a cricketing sense, seeing how Mitch Johnson goes this time around will be interesting. Does he still scare the bejesus out of you guys? He should.

I fear Australia’s batting depth may not be as strong as some imagine. I sense Warner is in for a shocker and Clarke is on his last legs. Add Haddin and Watson to that mix, and we have a potential problem. However, I could be completely wrong. Remember what Warner did on his last tour to South Africa? Yes, he got his girlfriend pregnant, but he also stood up when under the most immense pressure.

C’mon Aussie C’mon!!!!


My huge thanks to Dennis for participating in this exercise. We cooked it up on Saturday morning, and we threw ourselves into it. He’ll be re-linking this on his site, and my answers to his questions will be going up soon – , and no doubt we’ll be discussing the series during the next few weeks. Catch him on Twitter too @DennisCricket_ or his podcast, Can’t Bowl, Can’t Throw – the latest edition of which has Mr Roland Butcher’s Hook himself, Mr David Oram, to listen to.

I’ll just steer him on the Great Britain thing….

The classical writer, Ptolemy, referred to the larger island as great Britain (megale Britannia) and to Ireland as little Britain (mikra Brettania) in his work, Almagest (147–148 AD).[23] In his later work, Geography (c. 150 AD), he gave these islands the names[24] Alwion[sic], Iwernia, and Mona (the Isle of Man), suggesting these may have been native names of the individual islands not known to him at the time of writing Almagest.[25] The name Albion appears to have fallen out of use sometime after the Roman conquest of Great Britain, after which Britain became the more commonplace name for the island called Great Britain.[18]

39 thoughts on “An Ashes Exchange Of Views – Part 1 – Dmitri Asks, Dennis Answers

  1. Sean B Jun 24, 2015 / 9:36 pm

    A nice article and good to hear from the auld enemy; however I would have preferred someone like Jarrod Kimber who is far less partisan and far more measured than Dennis (I hold my hands up that I’m not a fan and unfollowed him this summer as I felt his stance was more personal than factually driven).


    • LordCanisLupus Jun 24, 2015 / 9:39 pm

      Dennis has been a good friend of this (and the previous) blog so I went to him first and he’s a good sport. We all have our personal tastes etc. You should see the questions he asks me…..


    • Dennis Does Cricket (@DennisCricket_) Jun 24, 2015 / 9:48 pm

      Shame to have lost you Sean but thanks for reading. Most of my stuff is 95% tongue in cheek to wind up those who struggle with extremism for my own amusement. Some like it. Some hate it. I can live with that. I did however praise Root in the piece above. Not sure their is much reason to be optimistic about anyone else in the team. Maybe Buttler. Maybe Wood. Everyone else is stale.


      • Sherwick Jun 25, 2015 / 7:18 am

        Luckily for Root, I think he went to a private school, or he’d definitely be next in line for a ritual humiliation and the chop. Not sure about Buttler or Wood though…?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Sean B Jun 24, 2015 / 9:45 pm

    Absolutely fair enough, just my personal opinion/taste. As long as you promise not to have a Q&A with Paul Newman is good enough for me….


    • LordCanisLupus Jun 24, 2015 / 9:48 pm

      Now that would drop a few jaws! No chance of that, I reckon. He’s blocked me on Twitter (as you all probably know).


    • escort Jun 24, 2015 / 10:31 pm

      A Q&A with Newman would be quite good I think. Let’s try to understand why he is like he is. Where does all the spite come from❓


  3. Sean B Jun 24, 2015 / 10:17 pm

    Dennis, many thanks for the reply, much appreciated. I did note the piece on Root and I do agree with your piece on Lyon (I tweeted a few weeks ago, whilst Australia were touring the Windies, that I felt Lyon could be the difference between the two teams). We all have different opinions on our teams and personal tastes on who to follow and who not to on Twitter, that is the fun of social media….

    Liked by 1 person

  4. man in a barrel Jun 24, 2015 / 11:23 pm

    The Aussie quicks seemed, after a while, to work out Root. It will be interesting to see if he has worked out the answer. The fact that as good a bowler as Ryan Harris is in reserve scares me. He is way better than Jimmy and Broady, if his knees allow. Moeen needs to produce results against a good team. Peter Miller really rates him but he is probably seduced by his beard. His results since the end of the India test series are nothing much.


  5. Pontiac Jun 24, 2015 / 11:59 pm

    This hyena is in agreement about Nathan Lyon. (He’s the only leonine thing I like.) Beyond being above average in the field and intellectually competent with the bat, he’s a lot better bowler than most English fans seem to think – on his second tour to any location he’s substantially better than on his first one, and now that he’s not always bowling around the wicket all the time,,,,


  6. dlpthomas Jun 25, 2015 / 1:20 am

    Australia lost to Pakistan in 2014 – though I don’t that is relevant to a series played in England

    James Pattinson is a seriously good bowler when fit. I’ m still surprised they couldn’t find a place for Cummins.

    Nice to see some-one give Lyons the praise he deserves.


    • Steve Jun 25, 2015 / 11:23 pm

      Aus also lost a test to SA in the won series there. I was also confused by his statement, perhaps he meant “at home”. Not really that big a feat though. Or perhaps he just erased Pakistan series from his memory as a bad dream.


  7. waikatoguy Jun 25, 2015 / 1:32 am

    After the SA-Aust series Grahame Smith said he thought the difference between the two sides was that Australia had a spinner and SA didnt. No higher praise to Lyons than that I thought. I watched a lot of that series and thought it was the fielding, especially the catching that was the difference. It might give the Aussies an edge this time round in England as well.


    • Dennis Freedman Jun 25, 2015 / 6:22 am

      Warner was the difference. Also Clarke’s 161* when copping a battering from the quicks in the 1st Test


      • BigKev67 Jun 25, 2015 / 3:10 pm

        I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Clarke play a better innings than that. Steyn was tearing in and Morkel gave him an absolute hiding with short stuff. Early on he looked like he could get out every ball but he hung in, and was dominating by the end. A serious captain’s innings.


      • SimonH Jun 25, 2015 / 3:34 pm

        Apologies for some pedantry BigKev67 – Steyn broke down with a hamstring injury after only ten overs that day. He bowled 11 balls at Clarke who scored one run!


      • dvyk Jun 25, 2015 / 5:37 pm

        I’m glad to see a miontion of that innings. But SimonH is right– it was Morkel who peppered him and cracked his collar bone, not Steyn. Actually made it even more gutsy — Steyn would have tried to him out, but Morkel just kept on trying to hit him. Gutsiest innings I’ve ever seen.

        Some could criticise him for grandstanding at times, but I won’t hear any complaints about his overall attitude. If that innings doesn’t mean anything, nothing in sport does.


  8. dvyk Jun 25, 2015 / 7:53 am

    Really interesting thoughts, and well put.

    I still can’t get past my concerns about Aust’s batting. We’re a batter short and have been ever since Hussey retired. If Clarke has a crap series we’re sunk.

    I can’t see S Marsh as a test player. I’d almost be tempted to play four quicks and Lyon, and tell them if they don’t consistently score useful 20s and 30s batting with Smith, they’re out. And maybe reverse the batting order as well, to give the quicks a bit of time to recuperate after batting. Warner & Rogers would an excellent 10 & 11 pair. Rogers wouldn’t get out, and Warner would be a freaking nightmare for tired bowlers. Obviously I’m kidding, but if they did it, it wouldn’t be all that much worse than the situation as it is now.


  9. metatone Jun 25, 2015 / 7:57 am

    Hard to disagree with much of this.

    My defence of Harris would be that “wreaking havoc in the WI” is no longer a great barometer – but equally there’s an argument that the place his experience will be most useful is Lords, so that doesn’t really put him in for the 1st Test.

    I’d add Buttler & Wood in as potential bright spots for England.

    There is the potential for some fascinating individual match ups in this series, but alas I don’t think England are strong enough to set up some of those confrontations.


    • SimonH Jun 25, 2015 / 9:41 am

      ““Wreaking havoc in the WI” is no longer a great barometer”.

      Except that England played there recently and havoc was conspicuous in its absence. It is worth contrasting the number of overs it took England and Australia to bowl West Indies out in their respective series:

      England – 113, 129.4 (for 7 wickets), 104.4, 112, 49.4 and 62.4 (for 5 wickets)

      Australia – 53.5, 86, 59.5 and 42.

      England could only bowl West Indies out once in less than a hundred overs whereas Australia did it every time. The pitch England played on in Antigua was perhaps flatter than anything Australia encountered but the Grenada/Dominica and Barbados/Jamaica pitches were very similar in my view.

      There’s also the contrast in how individual West Indies players performed – Blackwood averaged nearly 78 against England and 16 against Australia, Bravo 39.5 and 12, Brathwaite 31 and 7.

      It all gives some indication of the contrasting potency of the two attacks.


      • LordCanisLupus Jun 25, 2015 / 9:44 am

        But according to Selfey there were “positive signs” for England!


      • metatone Jun 25, 2015 / 10:15 am

        My point was in comparing Hazlewood and Starc and Johnson to Harris, not comparing them to England. Fully agree (and I’ve said it elsewhere) that England’s attack doesn’t look able to match up.


      • SimonH Jun 25, 2015 / 10:16 am

        Have you read his latest? I’m trying to find words for it – but am reduced to just spluttering, incoherent, puce-faced rage…..


      • metatone Jun 25, 2015 / 10:21 am

        I challenge you to identify the worst statement in the article. It’s not an easy choice.


      • Arron Wright Jun 25, 2015 / 10:26 am

        I just focused on his use of history, keeps it nice and simple.

        Anyway, as we established yesterday, he doesn’t read the comments…


  10. Mike Jun 25, 2015 / 8:25 am

    Great read, always good to hear a wide range of opinion, thanks chaps.

    Hard to disagree about the bowling, they’ve got both substantially much better depth when it comes to the quicks and a more experienced and proven performer in Lyon. I expect their catching to be better, based on recent months. AS pointed out above, I find it terrifying that Harris isn’t nailed on to start. He’s way better than anything we have.

    With regards batting, there’s not a huge amount in it, Clarke, Warner, Smith are probably better than Root, Cook, Bell but both teams look like they’ve got the odd collapse in them so you’d always back the better bowling team and that’s them, by a long way.

    I’m sticking with 3-0 Aus with two rain affected draws.


  11. wrongunatlongon Jun 25, 2015 / 8:48 am

    Not sure I’d agree with the Broad bit. He was genuinely god-awful in the World Cup, but his Test performances have actually been alright, and he has always been a strong performer at home. He has the odd spell where he’s bowling filth, but I’d still back him to be a threat in each Test at some point. I like Wood, and he looks promising, but I’d always plump for proven performance.

    Also has Haddin become a better keeper? His glovework always looked un-natural to me.

    Agree on Root, and especially Lyon. The biggest frustration of the 5-0 for me was England’s inability to whack him into the stands, and the continued stance of batting at 2 runs an over against him and Shane Watson. Way to invite pressure on ourselves.

    The description of Hazlewood as Siddle, before listing attributes nothing like Siddle, amused me.


  12. SimonH Jun 25, 2015 / 10:07 am

    “Man for man, England probably don’t win even one spot”.

    I rate Australia the better team – but this is just trolling, right? Of course some England players would get into a best composite team –

    Cook/Rogers (or Marsh) – Cook has a Test average 7 runs higher than Rogers and 11 higher than Marsh. He won’t be anywhere near the captaincy in this team!

    Root/Voges – impressive as Voges’ debut hundred was Root is averaging 54 over a decent period of time. Root may not have faced some of the more difficult challenges (like SA or Pakistan) but neither has Voges.

    Stokes/Watson – a very close call. Virtually identical batting averages and while Watson has a much better bowling average Stokes has more potential.

    Buttler/Haddin – a very close call arguable either way. Haddin’s keeping is superior but his batting is declining in a way that suggests it may be permanent rather than a loss of form. Haddin’s experience and tactical nous would just give him the edge for me but it’s very close.

    Ali/Lyon – one could make a case for Ali based on his better batting and that their bowling averages aren’t too dissimilar. However Lyon has sustained his over a longer period of time and against tougher opposition.

    Broad/Starc – again a case could be made for Broad based on lower average and more wickets. I’d go for Starc’s potential though.

    Anderson/Hazlewood – again a case could be made for Anderson on experience and number of wickets but I’d go for Hazlewood’s potential. It could look pretty silly though if Hazlewood doesn’t adjust to English conditions (and I’m not convinced he is as effective against left-handers).

    Composite XI – Warner, Cook, Smith, Clarke (c), Root, Stokes, Haddin, Johnson, Starc, Lyon, Hazlewood. An 8/3 split (or 7/4 if Buttler gets in ahead of Haddin which was a very tight call).

    Liked by 1 person

  13. David Oram Jun 25, 2015 / 11:13 am

    Fascinating stuff guys.

    Good to see Dennis is till reeling ’em in with his Brit-baiting. Let’s hope his Aussie boys fish in the slip-stream just as regularly to Anderson.

    Personally, I think England has every chance. I even thought so before the ODIs v New Zealand. We have some very good players, who often play crap, but are capable of (occasionally) touching the heights.

    Also, a lot has been made of the aging Australians – quite rightly so.

    It’s a fine line for selectors and senior players themselves to know when they have passed their ‘Best Before’ date, but haven’t exceeded their ‘Use By’. For example, compare Chanderpaul and Sangakkara:

    In the Caribbean, everyone had been debating the timing of (and in many cases, calling for) Shiv’s retirement for 2-3 years, and he ought to have known to quit with dignity at the first sign of his powers waning.

    But he didn’t – and he hung on inelegantly (what had worked on the field, didn’t off it) and bleated like a deprived child when he was dropped. Ridiculous.

    Kumar, meanwhile has signaled his intent to retire gracefully before his has ‘lost it’. Likewise Jayawardene, Kallis, Smith etc. Even Ponting and Tendulkar acted ahead of the selectors when they knew the chop was imminent.

    Is there anyone in Clarke’s tour party that has passed his ‘Sell By’ date, and should have been binned?

    Equally, the same is true of teams.

    Compare the two recent Ashes whitewashes:

    The 2006/07 series was characterised by a bunch of old blokes (Australia) who knew they had ‘one last job’ in them and, after the 2005 Ashes result, were determined to prove a point.

    The 2013/14 series was characterised by a bunch of old blokes (England) who hoped they had ‘one last job’ in them, and after the 2013 Ashes result, were self-deluded enough to think they had nothing left to prove.

    I’m hoping this Australian team are akin to the latter category, though fear they may be more of the former.

    Nonetheless I’m saying 3-1 to England!


  14. SimonH Jun 25, 2015 / 12:29 pm

    And so the Ashes tour gets under way with a century opening partnership…. Against the team who are bottom of D2….. Who have rested half their first choice bowling attack.

    Something to remember next time England are on tour and there is bleating about the quality of opposition in warm-up games.


    • LordCanisLupus Jun 25, 2015 / 12:34 pm

      After what Australia did last time, Simon, I’d have played the Colts team.


      • metatone Jun 25, 2015 / 12:37 pm

        Should have sent them to Somerset and Sussex – Div 1, but largely atypical pitches…


      • SimonH Jun 25, 2015 / 3:36 pm

        Rogers and Marsh haven’t quite made it to their 150s though!

        Perhaps Canterbury could be twined with Hobart?


    • wrongunatlongon Jun 25, 2015 / 2:04 pm

      A few years back I saw a one day match, Australia vs Somerset, Somerset were asked to rest Trescothick, but were loaned a couple of international stars to fill the gaps. Anyway, Australia racked up 342, which at the time was the equivalent of about 400, and then they were flayed to all parts by Graeme Smith and Sanath Jayasuriya in front of a sell out Taunton crowd, with Somerset getting home with 4 overs to spare.


  15. Ian Jun 25, 2015 / 2:06 pm

    I don’t follow Dennis on twitter as the piss taking does get a bit wearing but his site Dennis Does Cricket is a must read like this one and TFT for me. The podcasts are excellent and he gets a really good mix of guests on it.

    I think England can nick a test with a inspired Root or Stokes innings or through an inspired Broad/Anderson spell but I fear as I think has been mentioned above. Brainless bowling at the tail by England could ruin some good opportunities and hand the control of the match to Australia


    • Dennis Does Cricket (@DennisCricket_) Jun 26, 2015 / 9:00 am

      Many Thanks Ian. To be fair, even I’m sick of myself on twitter. Hope to have some interesting guests on he podcast during the Ashes. John Etheridge is up this Friday, with a Pakistani and then Indian stars in quick succession (if their commitments hold true)


      • SHERWICK Jun 26, 2015 / 9:54 am

        Hi Dennis, can you ask John E about the mysterious KP photo please?


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