Continued from yesterday, the second set of questions, answered by the Super Seven.
Question Four – What do the Ashes mean to you as a cricket supporter?
MiaB – As a cricket supporter of English nationality, the Ashes are still the major event in the calendar. But, if you look back, it is interesting how few series there have been where both sides were packed with star quality. They tend to be rather one-sided – eg 1928, 1948, 1956, 1974 and just about every series between 1986 and 2005. Most of them have been about ordinary teams with one or two stand-out players – 1970, 1972, 1978, 2010, 2015 particularly come to mind. The Ashes tends to produce absorbing rather than exciting cricket.
Ian – I try not to think of them as the be all and end all but I just cannot help it. Ashes series have been constant through my cricket watching life starting in 1989 and so many of my most memorable cricket memories good and bad involve the Ashes.
Scrim – I was born and raised in Adelaide. All my Ashes memories up until I was 19 years old were huge wins for Australia sprinkled with some dead rubber losses. It had been drummed into me that beating England was really all that mattered but I didn’t realise how true this was until that winning feeling was finally taken in 2005. I was there under the scoreboard, Day 5 in 2006, probably about 30m away from Dmitri, when they were as good as won back. That was a day of cricket spectating that will probably never be matched.
I live in Norway now. A beautiful, but cricket-free land. I follow English cricket a bit more given that it matches with my time zone. “Knowing my enemy” a bit better, and being starved of cricket only makes me want it more. My 2 year old alarm clock of a son and I will be watching as much as possible.
Danny – Historically, it was a chance for England to measure themselves against what was almost certainly the best Test team in the world. Now? It’s still the highest profile Test series here, so it’s something I can talk about with people who don’t normally follow cricket. Apart from that, it’s nothing special.
Sri – Good to follow as a person with interest in the game wherever it is played but obviously not critical to me.
Silk – Everything?
And….TheBogfather in rhyme….
Slightly away from the question, as to write my true feelings about the Ashes would take many a while and lines, so here’s more a view of why I love Test Cricket as a whole…
In my dreams…
all cricket is played in creams
no emblazoned added ad
or name and number so sad
On my screen…
test matches reign supreme
a battle of wits and skill
not a formulated drill
On boundary I’m sat…
watching intrigue ‘tween ball and bat
how I desperately yearn
for pace and turn
not flat-track bullying and all that…
On my mind…
supreme contests of skill and thought
every game within a game
no two, ever the same
mind games and beauty combined…
On the field…
chances taken then some spilled
with boundaries and dot-balls
loud silence then some roars
intensities follow being bestilled…
then it rains, on come the covers
no duckworth-lewis to smother
still time for a result here…
for the brave to advance
with skills true and askance
final over, final ball, we cheer…
a drawn Test, but what a game
The Ashes would never be the same again
If the idiots that rule our game have their way
Never seen again, another edge of seat last day…
Question Five – A brief outline of how you expect the series to go. Who will win? Who will make the runs? Will it be a rout? Fire away.
Silk – There are so many uncertainties. I can genuinely see 5-0 either way. I can imagine a series where Khawaja, Bancroft, Marsh and Paine all average less than 20 with the bat, Woakes and Broad are all over them like a rash, and the Aussies collapse. I can also imagine a series where Khwaja and Handscombe absolutely put England to the sword, alongside Warner and Smith, Anderson shows his age, Woakes proves he can’t cut it, Ball and Coverton are disappointing and Broad, well as he bowls, can’t stem the flow.
I can see England bowling a perfect Australian length and bundling Australia out on day 1 at Brisbane. I can also see England bowling too short, and completely losing it once the shine as gone off the ball. I can see Ali bowling all you can eat run buffet and Joe Root brought on as ‘a partnership breaker’ when Warner is on 191.
Obviously one can imagine Starc and Cummins destroying England in a session, but one can also imagine both going down with knee injuries on the first day, and England winning by an innings.
Ian – I keep switching my mind between an optimistic 3-2 defeat to a pessimistic 5-0 so lets go for 4-1 Australia. Runs from Warner,Smith and Khawaja. England’s runs probably won’t be as prolific and could be shared around. Root might be affected if it isn’t going well and I worry about Bairstow contributing if England are kept in the field for days.
I expect like a lot of tests involving England lately that they won’t be particularly close games.
Danny – 5-0 to Australia, I fear. For England, I expect Root and batsmen 6-8 score the majority of the runs, whilst Cook gets a couple of fifties and everyone else struggles. For Australia, I think Warner, Smith and Khawaja will all average 50+ in the series, as Australia regularly post 350+ scores which England can’t quite match.
Sri – 3-2/3-1 in favor of England. I expect Oz to win in Adelaide and maybe 1 of Perth/Gabba if they win.
MiaB – Two flimsy batting line ups and two injury-prone attacks: it will be about which team stays fit. If injuries do not intrude, I think Australia will shade it. However, because these are not sides who are good at attritional cricket, I think each match will have a result. So, like the last series, I expect 3-2, but this time in favour of Australia.
Scrim – Australia will win. Home conditions and too much bowling firepower, and too many things that have to fall into place at the last minute for England. If Australia win the first two, they’ll win the next three. This is the most confident I’ve felt about an Australian win before a ball has been bowled since 2005.
Adelaide could be a bit of a shootout. It will be low scoring, and the ball will swing. It is a must win for England if they are to have any hope.
Telling you that Smith will get some runs is like informing you about the Pope’s religion. Apart from Smith, Khawaja looks in good form – close enough to 300 runs at 100 in two low scoring matches at the Gabba in the past couple of weeks. Forget about any weakness vs spin. He’s been a monster on fast pitches for the past few seasons.
TB, Take It Away….
Not expecting a rout but definitely a defeat
3-1 to Aus with one saved by a storm
Frenetic batting mixed with non-moving feet
Inability to take 20 wickets the norm..
Root our top scorer, Cook one score above 50
Mo’ and Bairstow will erratically flow
Woakes with the wickets, Jimmy nulled but thrifty
Broad goes in the fetlock, Crane’s future value grows…
Question Six – Finally, and a specific one for this test, Brisbane…. too much emphasis on it, or a real indicator of the series to come?
Danny – I think England’s best hope of confounding my expectations and actually winning the series is by somehow winning at Brisbane. Right now the Australian fans and media are largely focussed on the England side (and their own selectors), and that pressure could force England players into making mistakes during the game. If England do manage to beat Australia in the first game, the Aussie press will start attacking their own players and management instead of the poms and that might push them into even worse errors than picking Paine.
In terms of the series, I think the day/night game in Adelaide is probably the more significant one. The pink ball, twilight hours and what will probably be a relatively lush pitch could all potentially help England’s bowlers compensate for their batsmen’s inadequacies. If England leave there with the series 1-1 (or even 2-0 up), they at least have something to play for in Perth beyond survival. As it is, I fear the series will be over before the Boxing Day game in Melbourne.
Scrim – Definitely an indicator. If England are able to get a foothold in the Brisbane test, as they did in 2010, then things will be very interesting. However the last couple of Ashes series have disappointingly been full of thrashings one way or the other and I feel there is a good chance England might be on the wrong end of one here.
MiaB – It is not the same ‘Gabba so I would not read too much into the result of the first test.
Sri – Too much emphasis. It is a 5 test series and thus a first test loss will not hurt england but a first test draw/loss will hurt Oz.
Silk – Huge, huge test. Huge, huge Test. Good toss to lose, I think. Batting on both sides is brittle. You’d be mad to bowl first at Brisbane, but if the side that does bowl first makes early inroads, I think that could be the series, right there. If either batting lineup fails, and let’s face it, there are huge doubts about both, I think heads could go down. Right now, Australia have more to lose. England are a mess, but Australia have picked 1, 6 & 7 on a hunch and will be under huge pressure if they all fail and bring the rest down with them.
I’ll go out on a limb here and at, at a risk of repeating 2003, Root should bowl first if he gets the chance. Get Bancroft, who failed in County Cricket, early doors and the Aussies will be very nervous indeed. If Marsh is batting before lunch on day 1, I think England will win the series.
Ian – I think Brisbane is vital, England draw or win then they might just do ok in the series but if the Gabba is a heavy defeat then it will be here we go again and 5-0 might just be inevitable whatever moves England make to try and ensure this isn’t the case.
For the last word, or prose, it’s our main man, the Cricket Laureate, Boggy…
Definitely an indicator of how the series will unfold
Depends on how easily England will fold
A close defeat with confidence intact?
Or a complete humbling, some early bags packed?
We need the old 1, the new 2 and 3
To give us hope up front
Or maybe come May we’ll see
Selfey calling for the recall of some old CNUT…
There you have it. If you like what you see, and want to take part in the Adelaide test panel, leave me a note below or by e-mail, otherwise you seven get the gig again. My thanks for all their efforts, and I don’t know about you lot, but I’m quite up for this.
We’ll be talking about what we intend to do tomorrow night, and also details of a new way of accessing our posts, in the next 24 hours. In the meantime, comments below and remember, these are volunteers, so play nice!
I’ve just been reading about a series that kicked off in Perth. Why did Australia stop that practice? But, after my stat mining, I am casting back in my mind.
In 2010, a massive draw first up, a KP win in Adelaide and the Aussies drew level in Perth.
In 2009, after similar but reversed results, the Aussies looked in a dangerous position after routing England at Headingley.
In 1954, England were convincingly trounced at the Gabba first up. Didn’t Brearley suffer a shock defeat in 78?
And how about Gower and Botham losing at Lords in 1981 and 1985…
Momentum really is for the birds and bees. What matters is how much resolve there is in each team. Obviously, with wise old Cook at hand, England will see it through regardless of what happens in Brisbane.
Damn and Sir Douglas lost the 2nd Test in 1932 on a pitch that showed how his tactics could be negated. The rest is history
Add to that, the last Ashes where, if I recall correctly (I was thoroughly disengaged with England at that point), the results were W-L-W-L-W (or was it L-W-L-W-W?)
But I do think momentum is huge in this series, because neither side can go into the series (for different reasons) with any confidence. If one side convincingly wins this one, it will buoy them, and the other side will feel under real pressure.
After all, momentum has very much carried the Australians two of the last 3 ‘home’ Ashes series.
And I stand by my earlier comment (see yesterday) that Woakes is the great unknown, batting and bowling, in this series.
He could win the whole darn thing for England, he really could.
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I have always been more impressed by his batting than his bowling, yet they play him as a bowler who bats. What would be fun is if he should make no 6 his spot by weight of runs. Not so hard if your predecessor is Stokes.
He seems to be a consistently better batsman than Stokes, if less likely (by some distance) to take the opposition to pieces when set.
But it’s his bowling which intrigues me. This is a guy who played 5 Tests in 3 years, and looked ever bit a bog standard medium pacer, then suddenly blew Pakistan away in 2016, bowling at genuine pace.
He’s only played one Test in 2017, but in ODIs this year (including games against India (3) and SA (1)) he’s taken his wickets at <21.
I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA how he's going to go in Australia. Which is what makes this series, for me, so uncertain.
There's a heap of uncertainties (Bancroft, Khawaja, Marsh, Paine, the fitness of the Aussie quicks, Cook, Vince, Malan, the fitness of our quicks, how Ali goes as a bowler) but the uncertainties around Woakes are, for me, more uncertain. If that makes any sense.
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A problem for Woakes could be that he seems likely to have Ball, Broad and Anderson batting behind him in the order and that doesn’t look the most resilient of tails. Woakes may well add a few ‘not outs’ to his current quite large number (very nearly a third of his innings).
Mark Wood joining the Lions is an interesting development. Assuming the ECB aren’t having us on and he really is fit and performing again it would be a no-brainer to add him to the Ashes squad later in the series. That might just alter the balance of bowling fire power a little (possibly even in time for it still to make some difference).
Question is, will he find that mean streak that’s arguably a necessary component of being a truly successful international fast bowler? What’s it to be? Cantering around the outfield on an imaginary gee-gee (good fun and I’m not knocking it… although I’ve a feeling some of the Aussie spectators might) or sledging David Warner and staring daggers at Steve Smith having just nearly decapitated him with a bouncer?
Not that I’m advocating fighting fire with fire, perish the thought.
What’s it to be? I doubt his body can take 40 overs in 5 days. And that is not something that anyone should feel good about. I really hope the powers do not pressure him into that. No doubt the Mail knows
He’s played in, what, 10 Tests and ♯ a bowling average north of 40. Why do people think he’s the messiah?
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Just having a little fun here…
Clearly he’s not the Messiah (“…he’s a very naughty boy!”) and the chances of him really terrorising the Aussie batsmen are remote. It’s just that the English cupboard is a bit bare when it comes to genuine pace bowlers. I am also doubtful of his fitness and have no faith in the ECB’s ability to manage his physical wellbeing or give an accurate report of his true level of match readiness. He could quite easily bowl at Perth, break again and be too knackered to play at Sydney. It all just further underlines the folly of the decision to confine Plunkett to limited overs internationals.
I do enjoy the Ashes Panel. Might have volunteered but I’m not nearly as knowledgable as these good guys.
My answer to most of the questions would be “don’t know”. As others have said, it could easily go either way. I believe the top players will give us some good performances and I can see the lesser ones being pretty disappointing. Having happily swapped Sky for Virgin, I’ll be watching the first session at least. Still can’t shake the habit of hoping Cook makes a mess of it in the first 5 minutes but fingers crossed for Stoneham.
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I am confident to say that I know nothing. But then what pundit does?
For all the “good journalism” I don’t see better insight ATL than BTL. Though obviously fewer utterly crazed people ATL. (Thankfully cricket largely free of those, unlike rugby, say)
I could easily have written “I don’t know” for a few of the questions as well! If I did know, I wouldn’t be setting my alarm clock for 12.55am tonight.
Sometimes it’s good to remember that the pundits on TV, not to mention the trash talking players, don’t really know either.
Benny I assure you I have no knowledge. I do not know what good journalism is. Unlike John Eheridge, I have would not take confidential information for a biography and publish it the next day in the Sun
Will these be the Stonebee or Stokesless Ashes?
Top 4 English run scorers:
Top 4 English wicket takers:
Broad 13 (in two tests, but one 6fer)
Top 4 Aussie run scorers
Haddin Far too many even now
Top 4 Aussie wicket takers
Starc: Quite a few, obviously
Lyon: More than you’d think
James Vince’s off drive: 10
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By the way, Sri really is a lovely fellow. Knows his stuff and is a true lover of the game. However, I feel his good nature is perhaps influencing his predictions. Welcome as they are, and trying as hard as I am to believe them, Sri, old thing? I think you might be being too kind to us.
:-). Q, I am never disposed to be kind to the English/British unless you are P.G.Wodehouse, Richmal Crompton, Alistair Maclean, Georgette Heyer or Dick Francis to name some. :-). Your ancestors ruled us for hundreds of years and took away our money. :-).
Jokes apart, I think root + bairstow + woakes + ali + the new comers will be a challenge for Oz to bowl out and likewise anderson, broad, woakes, ali + x will be good enough to bowl out the oz batsmen.
No idea why you guys are so pessimistic both here and in the guardian. If virat can make a pile of runs in Oz, so can root 🙂
They didn’t give me any of that money, Sri. If they did, they’ve hidden it well.
Pessimism rarely leaves you disappointed. Optimism often does. I find optimism strange.
Actually if discussion forums were around then, I can quite imagine The Duke of wellington starting his comments with oh, we are sure to be routed in waterloo or lord nelson saying we will get a beating in trafalgar or the desert rat saying that he will be routed by Rommel 😀
Sadly, we don’t have those forums around for reading.:-)
“Jonny Bairstow will stay at the traditional keeper’s spot of No 7 where England believe he will be better shepherding the tail”.
I’m finding an old Ian Dury song coming to mind – and it isn’t ‘Reasons to be cheerful’!
Sex and Drugs and Rock n Roll?
Ha! No, that was the 1983/84 tour of New Zealand!
Hit me with your rhythm stick?
What A Waste…
The most import issue of this first test match from Englands point of view is that the wheels don’t come flying off like 4 years ago. Even If they lose in Brisbane…. they can still retain the ashes, but not if they are punch drunk like last time.
Important to stand up and show they can play in these conditions and against real pace bowling. For all of Newman’s, and the medias usual eulogising of Cook this is a big test of his skills. He is the senior pro now with the pedigree of runs. He’s the man the media say we can’t do without. He needs to have a big series. (He won’t repeat what he did in 2010……that was a once in a lifetime series.) but he needs to set himself a target of 400-500 runs in the series.
If he fails miserably I don’t want to hear anymore rubbish from the media about how he’s the greatest since Wally Hammond. This is Cooks chance to prove he is the great batsman his fan boys claim.
I will be the first to praise him if he delivers, but it’s time to put up or shut up media.
Surely you mean Len Hutton? There’s no way Cook’s better than Hutton.
I can’t see Cook averaging more than 50 this series. If he averages 42 with a reasonable number of good scores (i.e. not inflated by one huge score) that’s a great return for England. He just needs to set the foundation, for Root, Malan, Bairstow and Ali to cash in on.
I think if Cook averages above 40 towards 50 that will be a good series.
It’s interesting what you say about consistency, and not having one big score. On the other hand as England hold the ashes if Cook was to make a big match winning score that may go along way in retaining the ashes. If England can win 2 tests they could hope to draw one of other test matches.
The forecast looks like this game needs to be quite advanced by the end of the third day. No-one can tell what the weather will really do (Aussies seem to be marginally ahead of the USA for nonsensical forecasting) but this could be a rain-affected match – you know, the sort 4 day cricket ruins.
Cook is Cook. Nothing we can say or do is going to change minds. I just ignore those who ignore pesky facts. It’s the only way to stay marginally sane. Let’s say I’ve cut a few of those voices out elsewhere. It’s time to concentrate on us.
Your opening statement reminded me of a Selvey classic reading of the runes from 2013:
“[at Adelaide] there could even be a case for omitting Johnson and even Harris to keep them for Perth and bring in James Faulkner, say, and someone such as Ben Hilfenhaus.”
He was a genius……..
Lovejoy, man of letters…