But All We Realise The Show Ain’t Nothing – Dmitri on the 2019 Ashes

Lest we forget – Steve Smith brings up his double ton at Lord’s in 2015

The title is another Public Enemy lyric, from one of their first songs. As they said in the same song,

“Didn’t holler at the dollar we willin’ to spend, But you took one look and wouldn’t let our ass in”

Which sort of sums up the aftermath of the World Cup, the look at the potential support out there, the entitlement of some subscription players who think sharing what they see with their own eyes is something just for those with money, and not for those that can’t or won’t pay. As if access to sport is dependent on whether you earn enough, rather than broaden horizons. So this year those people paying have the premium pricing of England at a global tournament, and the £100 per day bonanza of Ashes cricket.

We are now a matter of three days away from the latest incarnation of the most storied series in cricket. The Ashes. Running for over a century and a quarter, a bellwether for the state of the game in each nation, a proxy for the wellbeing of the sport and the nation. an anchor point on the cricket calendar, the Ashes have always been the series that the people want to see. That’s in terms of demand for tickets, value of TV contracts, public recognition and where heroes are defined. Ian Botham’s record against Australia, certainly in the early 80s is more important to many than his performances against the mightiest of foes in that era, the West Indies.

This, however, feels really really different. Whether this is because the series is now in the position of “after the Lord Mayor’s Show” of the World Cup Final just a couple of weeks ago, I really don’t know, but if the players feel anything like me as a cricket supporter, England are in dead trouble. I don’t know how you top the mountain in that way, and then have to go back and raise yourselves for your marquee series straight after. It was once said that we gave ourselves no chance in the World Cup because it followed the Ashes (while this never stopped Australia), but to me it feels the other way around. I can’t remember an Ashes series I’ve given less of a stuff about, and I can’t remember an Ashes series where I am looking at it and thinking…. am I ready for this?

I’ve felt like that about blogging since the final, too. If you don’t have the energy or the things to say, it’s going through the motions, and I’m not doing that. I couldn’t give a stuff about the event masquerading as a “test match” last week, except to marvel how 85 all out against a county standard attack at best could actually happen, whether the team was exhausted or not. And when Ireland made 38, I have to say the despair turned to anger.

Then there was the last series, where the media managed to make a 4-0 smashing sound like something to be cheerful about as we didn’t get whitewashed, and everyone’s folk hero made a double hundred in a dead rubber to prevent it. We were, basically, told not to care about it. We had not got Stokes, our opening position was shot, the bowling looked old and weak, the batting weak and devoid of hope. We even made 450 in one test, with two great centuries and it still felt we were going to get beat, and yet we were done by a 180 from Mitchell Marsh. This was all to be expected. The series was on BT Sport, so no-one really mattered, and certainly the ECB didn’t give a toss. They cared so much they flogged the team off to New Zealand, and Auckland happened. If we aren’t to care about 4-0 losses, why should we care at all. Nothing to see here. Move along.

This five test series commences on 1 August. It finishes a week before the autumnal equinox. Don’t worry, though, because the next Ashes in England will be in 2022*. Straight after the 2021/22 playing of the series in Australia. Hey, that back-to-back in 2013-14 went down so well, was so popular, so revered, we’re gonna do it again. Who seriously believed these imbeciles have the best interests of the game at heart? At least Qatar have moved the 2022 World Cup to the winter for us.

[*Note – Nonoxcol has pointed out in the comments that the Ashes appear to be in 2023. Some of the articles do state that, and that would be much better. Instead we play 10 tests on the bounce against India.]


The Ashes Panel

OK, enough of that. The Bogfather has asked me to constitute an Ashes Panel. What is that, some may ask. Well it is this..


We ran these during previous series and they seemed to work well. As usual we will need some willing volunteers. It will entail answering a number of questions and putting your views on the series to us. I won’t be able to get one  up in time for the first test, but will be looking to do one after this test concludes. It takes a half hour of your time, and we do the rest.

Given we won’t be able to organise a panel in advance, in the interests of interactivity, and because it will stop me doing all the work (along with the team), here are five questions you can answer in the comments – and in there, you can also volunteer to be one of our panelists. Come on. It’s fun.

  1. On a scale of 1-10, how much are you looking forward to this Ashes series, and why?
  2. England’s chronic weakness appears to be the top order. Come September, who do you think will be England’s 1-2-3?
  3. Australia come into this series, in my view, underestimated. They look massive favourites to me even though they haven’t won a series in England since 2001. Am I right to think that way?
  4. What do you think the final score will be, and who will be man of the series?
  5. How many centuries do you think England will make in the entire Ashes?

So much to discuss since the World Cup Final, and yet so little time to really breathe. The Ashes should be the pinnacle of the game, but to me they feel like a hastily arranged tribute act to the main event. It never looked right having the Ashes follow a home World Cup and it still doesn’t. That this is followed by three test series in rapid succession this winter, as well as an increase in T20 internationals to prepare for the next incarnation of that World Cup.

What I Think…

This series kicks off at Edgbaston on Thursday with an interesting weather forecast, and a lot of hope pinned on this being England’s venue of choice. England’s batting is going to be the key point of focus the whole series, because it looks exceptionally fragile. The potential line-up looks like Roy, Burns, Denly, Root, Bairstow, Stokes, Buttler, Ali, Woakes, Anderson and Broad. Archer looks a long shot, unless Denly is not the number three and Root is, and there are copious mentions of that in the media. Others on social media are mentioning Stokes up to three as well. It’s an utter mess, and of our own devices. The biggest surprise is that Vince hasn’t been mentioned.

The openers look like an accident waiting to happen. We’ve waited until Burns is out of form to blood him, and now we’ll likely do the same with Dominic Sibley. I don’t care what others think, but Jason Roy is not an opener, and this selection falls into magic beans territory. Joe Denly is not test class, and appears to be an accidental international cricketer. Joe Root should bat three, but won’t. I mentioned this to my brother yesterday, but imagine KP insisting on batting at his favourite position rather than that which could serve the team better, and see how understanding the press and pundits would be. Then we have four number sixes rounding at 5,6,7 and 8, and a number 7 at number 9. The team looks confused. A confused team has excuses. A team with excuses, usually loses.

Meanwhile Australia have their own conundrum, but seem to be figuring it out. The three that “shamed a nation” will be reinstated, so Warner and Bancroft are likely to open, Khawaja at three if he recovers from injury, Smith at four, maybe Travis Head at five, Wade/Marsh or Labuschagne at six, with Paine at seven, then Cummins, Pattinson, Starc, Hazlewood (3 out of 4, and with Siddle, 3 out of 5) and Nathan Lyon. There are options in many slots. The batting has strong players with a fragile underbelly, and the bowling looks strong and will be effective in England. That Burns and Patterson were not included having scored centuries in their last test innings, speaks volumes.

We will probably do some more stuff in the next few days, but that’s enough to be getting on with. Please do answer the questions, please do volunteer for the panel – have a look at the last series to see what it entails – and no doubt, by Thursday, we’ll be up for it and looking at another frenetic home Ashes series.

We’ve had better days, and better decisions at the toss…

By the way – my answers:

  1. 3 – An Ashes summer was that. A summer that had the Ashes and no real rival. Now it’s crammed in to a short space at the arse end of the summer, after the World Cup. There is only so much emotional energy to give.
  2. Sibley (having played no real first class cricket regularly since beginning of July) and Roy. Burns to have been jettisoned. At three? Pick someone out of the hat. Malan?
  3. Of course I am. They have two of the best three batsman in the contest, their bowling looks to have depth, and pace, and the only weakness appears to be the middle order. In a composite test side at the outset, how many England players would you pick? Root? Stokes? Bairstow? Anderson if fit?
  4. I think Australia avoid losing at Edgbaston and it is goodnight. I am tempted to say 4-1, but I think I am over-estimating Australia’s batting in England, and under-estimating England’s bowling. Let’s say 3-1 to Australia and a rain-affected draw. No way will any of these matches be drawn unless weather wipes out large swathes of play.
  5. Two. Joe Root might play into one, and Stokes could do so too. But if they could collapse in heaps against Ireland, I fear for them against Australia.

Much more to come, so stick with us during the series. We don’t let you down!

Oh, I almost forgot. This is part of the World Test Championship. You didn’t know? I didn’t.


51 thoughts on “But All We Realise The Show Ain’t Nothing – Dmitri on the 2019 Ashes

  1. Mark Jul 29, 2019 / 4:41 pm

    Let´s have a go at this:

    1. 8 – It´s The Ashes
    2. Roy, Burns & Root.
    3. I´d put Aus as slight favourites. I think their bowlers will prosper – depends on Anderson and Broad to match them. Root needs to get back to his best, and needs to find support from the rest of the order. Can see Warner and Smith having good series after their time off.
    4. 3-1 England (Forever the optimist)
    5. 5. Couple for Root, Stokes, Buttler, and Roy to contribute.

    That it marks the start of The Test Championship was also news to me. Bizarre points system!


  2. nonoxcol Jul 29, 2019 / 4:47 pm

    One quick point: I know the 2022 Ashes was mooted a while back, but all sources now seem to be saying it’s 2023. The venues are the same as 2019, which seems harsh on Trent Bridge: since we went down to five Ashes Tests at home, the only time one of the traditional six grounds has missed two consecutive cycles was Headingley in 13 and 15, so TB will become the first one to have a 12-year gap between Ashes Tests.


    • LordCanisLupus Jul 29, 2019 / 4:58 pm

      I thought it was on the FTP for 2022. That’s good news if it isn’t. I’ll correct the post accordingly.


  3. Gareth Jul 29, 2019 / 4:59 pm

    1. About a 6, but that’s due to having two Aussies as my best pals, and they’re a bit perplexed at the slightly low-key (almost invisible) build-up here. I think the Test team and red-ball competitions are such an afterthought these days that it’s inevitable that interest will diminish.

    2. Jeez. Pick names out of a hat. I always feel that England are one bad series away from pressing the big red button marked “Emergency James Vince Recall”. A thought though, if England get crushed and Root’s position is under jeopardy, would he end up at three under a new captain? Probably not. I’ll go Roy (but under pressure), Crawley and Vince.

    3. I would have Aussie as strong favourites. The fringe guys (Bancroft, Labuschagne) have spent time playing red ball cricket and have put up some scores. The bowlers are in good fettle and they have been mostly low-key in the build-up. Oddly enough I fancy Smith and Warner to under-perform slightly but I count Head, Bancroft, Harris and Labuschagne as more likely to contribute those possibly crucial 40 or 50 runs than the fringe England batsmen.

    England really need to have a look at Bairstow’s output, and there is a lot required of Stokes and Buttler.

    4. I will go 3-1 Australia. Man of the Series is normally a batsman but I think bowlers will be the key to this. I’ll go Cummins, who is an absolute thoroughbred.

    5. Two. One for Root, one for Stokes. I point you to last summer when the first century was scored by…erm…Chris Woakes. Not good enough from the top order. But we all knew that.


  4. thebogfather Jul 29, 2019 / 5:18 pm

    On a scale of 1-10, how much are you looking forward to this Ashes series, and why?

    I must say, I hope this clobbered together half forgotten affray
    With no lead up matches, nor county game pick’n’choose
    Leads to a challenging yet slobbered weather laugh, to a besotten array
    Of matches with more class than the bounty for ECB/Sky, win or lose
    I can’t remember when an Ashes less appealed
    And sadly, I think, this is what many feel…
    So I hope for more than a five
    A six off a Stokes stranded bat to thrive?

    England’s chronic weakness appears to be the top order. Come September, who do you think will be England’s 1-2-3?

    Test 1, they stick to the selectorial Ed directive
    Test 2, perhaps more in form than the known name elective
    Test 3. Ah shit, they’re all playing T20
    Test 4. Bayliss thinks 200 is plenty
    Test 5, The Oval, so beer sales are all that matters
    The series? ECB profits fill the greedy flat hatters
    When September comes, it”ll be Root 3, Some other bloke 2, and Hales 1

    Australia come into this series, in my view, underestimated. They look massive favourites to me even though they haven’t won a series in England since 2001. Am I right to think that way?

    Yes, with bowlers of mixed matched caress
    Left and right and a 300+ spinner
    Our top 4 are currently unblessed
    Bereft, no delight no +36 average winner
    And the fabled late order
    Stokes, Buttler then disorder
    A Mo’ more likely to be noughty than fifty
    A Bairstow with no glow, irate and thrifty
    And so surely Smith will resonate among
    An Aussie team with grit, hence many a ton
    The main thing is that they’ve read the field
    Found each weakness, thus we will yield

    What do you think the final score will be, and who will be man of the series?

    2-1 to Aus, with 2 drawn because of poor over-rates and the weather
    With Stokes, Root and Anderson. losing their team leader tether
    Yet despite all recent scores and results
    I expect Steve Smith to rise above in tumult
    And be the batsman once again in control
    Tho’ Archer, before he gets injured, could play a role……

    How many centuries do you think England will make in the entire Ashes?

    But three when the series is no longer alive
    First Test – and yes, you may laugh
    It’ll be Mo, but there’ll be a losing aftermath
    Second Test, Root and Stokes
    A drawn rained out bore, nothing to evoke
    Third Test – Bairstow much too late
    Losing cause, tail fails to sate
    Fourth Test – A washout without a score
    A Buttler 99 is no bore
    Fifth Test – The Oval, sun shines at first
    James Vince 200, sates the lager lout thirst!


  5. Mark Jul 29, 2019 / 5:24 pm

    This opening Ashes Test match will coincide with the start of the football season. Championship on Saturday and Charity shield on Sunday. (Yes, I do still call it the charity shield. Then again, I still call it the gas board, and the water board & British rail. ) The ECB has managed yet again to time it to perfection. World Cup final on the same day as the Wimbledon final, and behind a pay wall……Oh wait, it worked like a charm. But they were made to change their minds. No luck this time.

    Stuck in my ways I guess, one of the perks of getting older. The Ashes is the Ashes…..or is it? I’m not optimistic. Even if the cricket is any good you have this dark feeling of foreboding where cricket is heading.

    In the the Ashes in Australia I thought it was all on our batting. If we could bat five sessions and put 450-500 on the board in the first innings of the first three test matches we had a chance. At worst we might scratch out some draws. Cook, and Root, our two best players did little in the first three test matches, and we were three nil down and the Ashes gone before Cook scored the greatest ever Test innings at Melbourne. In the most important dead rubber in cricket history. (Snark)

    However, this Ashes will depend on our bowlers in my view. If we let the Aussies make 400-450 on a regular basis I think we will be battered. I expect our middle order will be facing 100/4 on a regular basis. In England you may get away with 325/350 if the pitch has something in it. And the way things have gone in recent years the pitches have loads in them. But expect all the headlines on Sunday to be about football not cricket.


    • nonoxcol Jul 29, 2019 / 5:40 pm

      This will, of course, be the first Ashes series without our so-called friend since…. 2005.

      Or will it……..????

      Anyone going to put him in as an answer to question 2?


      • Mark Jul 29, 2019 / 6:04 pm

        He could come back like Dennis Compton going out against Lille and Thompson in 1974. Not a dry eye in the house, Agnew iin raptures, tears, calls for a VC to be awarded.

        It’s not worth thinking about……..


          • Mark Jul 29, 2019 / 6:17 pm

            I was waiting for the first person to spot my “deliberate” mistake……..

            Or maybe not…….Well done sir.


  6. Rohan Jul 29, 2019 / 6:41 pm

    On a scale of 1-10, how much are you looking forward to this Ashes series, and why?

    Normally the Ashes excites me no matter what and I would be an 8-10. This year, however, I’m struggling to feel ‘up for it’ so soon after the World Cup. Which is odd, as before the World Cup, I wanted it over as I couldn’t wait for the ashes, now I’m not anywhere near as excited as I would normally be, so I’d say a 4 or 5, a bit meh….

    England’s chronic weakness appears to be the top order. Come September, who do you think will be England’s 1-2-3?

    Trescothick, Cook and KP; why not, they’ve got as good a chance as any! Actually, I quite liked Nasser Hussain’s logic on Sky, where he just had ‘opener A’ and ‘opener B’ in his team, he said pick anyone, it doesn’t matter it won’t make any difference. So to sum up, England’s 1,2,3, I have no idea.

    Australia come into this series, in my view, underestimated. They look massive favourites to me even though they haven’t won a series in England since 2001. Am I right to think that way?

    I think you are right, however, a few things may conspire against that train of thought. Pitches will be prepared to massively suit Jimmy and Broady. Yes that’ll also suit Starc et al, but not as much as J and B and, if and it’s a big IF, Root wins the toss on green pitches/seamers, the rest could be redundant/a moot point……but Aus winning the series would not surprise me, we are there for the taking….

    What do you think the final score will be, and who will be man of the series?

    2-1 Australia. Steve Smith or an Aus pace bowler……

    How many centuries do you think England will make in the entire Ashes?

    Maybe 2. One for Root and One for Buttler (I would like that, he’s a good lad). I hope I’m wrong and someone in the England team has a 2013 Bellesque series/purple patch


  7. Sean Jul 29, 2019 / 7:25 pm

    Here are 2 pennies worth, though i think people have heard enough from me to be on any panel:

    On a scale of 1-10, how much are you looking forward to this Ashes series, and why? Perhaps a 5, the World Cup alongside Ashes overkill doesn’t really make the occasion as special as it once was. There is also a fair amount of trepidation about the England team that makes me think that we might get rolled over in this one.

    England’s chronic weakness appears to be the top order. Come September, who do you think will be England’s 1-2-3? Cook, Vince, Ballance. Only kidding but it really could be any number of people as no-one has stuck their hand up with a convincing case. If pushed with a gun to my head, I think it will be Sibley, Robson and Vince, but as i said, i could toss many other names in the hat here.

    Australia come into this series, in my view, underestimated. They look massive favourites to me even though they haven’t won a series in England since 2001. Am I right to think that way? Can’t argue with that at all. Their bowling line up is as powerful as the English line, maybe even more potent if they can keep Pattinson fit. Hazlewood always bowls well in England and it wouldn’t surprise me if Siddle plays a number of games if the pitch suits. Although their batting is on the weaker side too, I think it’s far less weak than England’s unless Root and Stokes can score 400+ runs this series

    What do you think the final score will be, and who will be man of the series? 3-1 Australia and Cummins to be the man of the series. I think he might also do a Haddin and rescue the Aussie batting line up a couple of times.

    How many centuries do you think England will make in the entire Ashes? 2. One from Root, probably when the series is likely dead and an early one from Stokes, perhaps even in the first Test. If Rory Burns or Joe Denley make a century then i’ll happily eat my hat (my hat is made out of crayfish and avocado mind)….


  8. Philip Chapman Jul 29, 2019 / 7:38 pm

    1. On a scale of 1-10, how much are you looking forward to this Ashes series, and why?


    I love cricket, but I am not massively excited by the series, I don’t have sky and I am not really interested in the condensed highlights on Channel 5, I find the commentators grating now.
    I do want Eng to do well, but the fact is there is still something rotten in the set up for so many talented batters to get their techniques ruined after a short period in the team. Rory Burns is the latest and next to get spat out. And I have no idea what Denly is supposed to offer. Sadly as he is a good player but picked too late.

    2. England’s chronic weakness appears to be the top order. Come September, who do you think will be England’s 1-2-3?

    Impossible to know, especially because we have a tough tour to SA next. What I would say is Zac Crawley is seriously talented.
    Jason Roy, I really hope he does well.
    Either Jos or Ben Stokes need to bat at three as Joe doesn’t want to.

    3. Australia come into this series, in my view, underestimated. They look massive favourites to me even though they haven’t won a series in England since 2001. Am I right to think that way?

    Yes, Bancroft and Warner are top players in form. Smith is extraordinary.
    Their bowling is better than ours, their batting ought to be better than ours.
    But Jimmy can to strange things to a batters mind.

    4. What do you think the final score will be, and who will be man of the series?

    2-1 Aus retain the Ashes, and one of the Aussie bowlers will be player of the series. Probably Hazelwood

    5. How many centuries do you think England will make in the entire Ashes?

    4, Root, Stokes, Buttler and Bairstow will all score runs
    JJ Roy will score a couple of 50’s.


    • Marek Jul 30, 2019 / 1:54 pm

      How talented do you think Crawley is, Philip?

      I ask because, from afar, that England are even considering selecting him for this series (as this week’s “good journalism” seems to suggest) is the epitome of one of the things that’s gone wrong with selection in the last few years. That is, confusing the Test team with the Lions team, and the Lions team with a teenagers’ development squad.

      Despite having a good season this year, his career average is 33 when most of his matches have been in Division 2. He’s got three hundreds in 32 games. Even this year, he’s averaging 41 with two hundreds in 11 games–good but not great, I would say.

      So I struggle to see it. Promising yes, maybe even very promising; a fairly certain selection for the Lions tour this winter yes, but Test candidate? At this stage?

      If he was making the runs that Pope was making this time last year (I think he was averaging over 80 when he was picked) I could see it, but….


      • LordCanisLupus Jul 30, 2019 / 2:25 pm

        Very small sample size. I saw him open for Kent against Morkel and SCurran a couple of weeks ago. He was very fluent, and scored at a decent pace, while looking competent. Quite tall, nice technique, as far as I could tell, and was a surprise when he was out. He, if my memory serves, massively outscored his partners when he was in (checked – scored 69 out of 99).

        That same game, where Denly made 88, as soon as the new ball was available and Morkel started pitching short, our test number 4 looked all at sea. This with the advantage of having firmly played himself in.


  9. Taylor Jul 29, 2019 / 7:47 pm

    Hi all, great post as usual.

    1. 3/10, i’m not optimistic for a series win, will probably only get to see the odd session in the pub, we play the Australians so often that it has lost a bit of that special event feeling.
    2. Roy, Burns and Sibley. I fear though that if Sibley does not hit the ground running then people will start calling for Cook to come out of retirement!
    3. You are correct, Australia are underrated while England are way overrated for the test format.
    4. Im expecting 4-1 or 3-1 to Australia, but Australia to go 3-0 up and England to capitalise on Aussie hangovers on the dead rubbers or get a draw by virtue of rain.
    5. No way we will prepare batting friendly 5 day wickets. Our only hope is to play to our strengths which is the seamers. Root will make one or two, Stokes and Buttler possibly if the top order outlast the shine on the new ball.

    As you can see I’m not optimistic. I think there is a massive problem in the batting coaching. I cant remember anyone taking a step down the wicket and playing a forward defensive with soft hands in years. Players like Trott and Collingwood really knew how to play themselves in and make the bowlers pitch it short and wide, but the art seems to be completely lost.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Mark Jul 29, 2019 / 7:48 pm

    I’m just listening to the five live cricket show. Depressing is not the word. Chuckles was on. Apparently everything is fantastic, not remotely interested in what we can’t do, only focus on what we can do. Forget that we have no top order. But fear not because we have a great middle order. He also thinks the Aussies may not deal with the crowd very well. I wouldn’t say he was calling for booing, but he wasn’t exactly condemning it.

    They interviewed Stokes, and he said he thought it was going to be difficult conditions to bat in. Which begs a number of questions…1 how does he know what the pitches for the whole series are going to be like so early? 2 Is this the only way England can now win test matches?

    Chuckles was delighted they have picked this batch of duke balls to play with. And congratulated whoever it was at the ECB who kept those balls from last years against India. Non of this sounded like test cricket to me. No contest between bat and ball. Instead a fixing of the conditions to insure a home win. This was rah rah rah cheerleading and who cares if the balls are man of the series?

    This is all about creating a tv rights product to sell to punters. Nothing to do with creating a contest between bat and ball. Maybe it will be a great series, but if England lose they will haveansolutely no excuses.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. quebecer Jul 29, 2019 / 8:30 pm

    1. On a scale of 1-10, how much are you looking forward to this Ashes series, and why?

    8. Because I’m a tragic case. However, I’m also dreading it because I think it might be really shit. I am just done with this who can avoid posting the most pathetic scores in a test as any kind of contest. So, 2. Except also 8, for the above reason.

    2. England’s chronic weakness appears to be the top order. Come September, who do you think will be England’s 1-2-3?

    Keaton Jennings, probably. Burns won’t make it to the 4th test, probably not the third. Denly is at least in some sort of form right now, so has an outside chance of making it through this series. Roy? Who knows? All points to Vince being locked in, which means we’ve a chance of being 48-3 rather than 16 for 3 in September.

    3. Australia come into this series, in my view, underestimated. They look massive favourites to me even though they haven’t won a series in England since 2001. Am I right to think that way?

    Yes. They have a batsman who will score hundreds, and a couple more who probably will too. They have no worries about their bowling, Pattinson to come in as well, plus the best spinner. Also, short tests and short test innings mean less wear and tear on their quicks. Bad for us.

    4. What do you think the final score will be, and who will be man of the series?

    Could be a whitewash, could be 3-2, we could do what we did to India depending on conditions. I’m prepared to say Man of the Series will not and will never be Chris Woakes. One of the Aussie bowlers probably, but if it’s Steve Smith, we’re buggered completely.

    5. How many centuries do you think England will make in the entire Ashes?

    Interesting. It could very well be zero. I’ll go with three. Maybe 2. Possibly 1. Probably none.

    Another question would be how many tests make it to day 5 unassisted by weather.

    Dmitri makes a very good point about how unsettled the England team is. Root, Buttler, Stokes, Bairstow, Jimmy, and Broad are nailed on obviously, but no-one else is, and that’s presuming Jimmy and Stu can get through 5 tests without injury.

    Liked by 1 person

    • dArthez Jul 30, 2019 / 8:04 am

      With regards to the India result, that was in no small part also due to Root winning all 5 tosses. Whitewash is definitely on if Paine wins all 5 tosses and the pitches / conditions are similar to what India faced.


  12. metatone Jul 29, 2019 / 8:59 pm

    1) On a scale of 1-10, how much are you looking forward to this Ashes series, and why?

    3. I do have a WC hangover. It was a tournament with problems, but the final was the ultimate rollercoaster. And we were a good team. By contrast, it’s hard to view the Test team as good. And as Sean and some others have mentioned, we’ve had a number of years with a lot of Ashes series. I’m utterly bored of games against Australia.

    2) England’s chronic weakness appears to be the top order. Come September, who do you think will be England’s 1-2-3?

    Roy, Burns & Vince. Ed Smith never admits of mistakes. Vince will never go away, no matter how much I hope he will.

    3) Australia come into this series, in my view, underestimated. They look massive favourites to me even though they haven’t won a series in England since 2001. Am I right to think that way?

    Yes. Warner and Smith have proven quality. Labuschagne has been playing well in CC, getting used to conditions. There are some batting weaknesses, but we have those too. Bowling they look streets ahead of us. Broad and Jimmy are only getting older and yet no more likely to remember to pitch it up. I still think Lyon has weaknesses, but his record shows he’s definitely good enough with these seamers around him.

    4) What do you think the final score will be, and who will be man of the series?

    3-1 to Australia. One game rained off, one victory for us, likely in a dead rubber.
    Man of the series – Hazlewood, just ahead of Cummins.

    5) How many centuries do you think England will make in the entire Ashes?

    3 – Root, Stokes and Buttler.


  13. Debashish Paul Jul 29, 2019 / 10:04 pm

    Let’s have a go then.

    1) A solid 8. Not as excited as the world cup (that was a straight up 10), but the idea of a single summer of winning the world cup and the Ashes is something to dream about.

    2) The constant state of flux that is the English top 3 is something that is hard to predict. I’d say Sibley and Crawley (why not?) opening, with Roy at 3. But why not make it Jennings, Lyth and ballance just for bants.

    3) A very good bowling line up which to be fair scares me, especially if they get it to swing more than you’d expect 😉, but I’d be more scared of the experienced English attack in English conditions. Both batting line ups are flawed, but I’ll give the edge to Australia with Warner and Smith. I’d say it’s pretty even overall, but England edge it with a strong bowling performance and the English crowd never getting off the aussie’s backs.

    4) 3-2 England. I’m going against typical English pessimism and being an optimist. A win at the fortress to start off a good but inconsistent series. England will be on the front foot and they’ll just about keep it. No draws! 2 not so good batting line ups, going up against great bowling line ups, I doubt they’ll even be many 5th days (hoping the weather is good).

    5) 2. I’ll give Joe Root a big century which will be the peak of an average Ashes series, in my opinion (but deep down I’m hoping for more off him) and someone will get one more from the rest of the middle order, probably Stokes, no 100s for the top oder. This will be a high wicket taking low scoring series where 80s will win games

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Miami Dad's Six Jul 29, 2019 / 11:05 pm

    1. There was a chance I might be off work through August, so I was quite keen for it at one point. Now though, employment has struck. The Ireland farce dampened enthusiasm too; these balls/pitches play on the minds of these awful modern batting line ups so much that they don’t make for high quality cricket. 4/10.

    2. God knows. You’d think one of the starting 3 picked would be kept in just for continuity sake, so probably Roy. Root will bomb at 3, and Stokes will be given a go there. Then they’ll draft in a funky Ed Smith wildcard – I’ll pluck for Hameed.

    3. Given Anderson is 37(?) and injured(?), Broad hasn’t been great for years, Mo is chronically underperforming, and the issues above, yes I would suggest Australia might be favourites. However I just don’t rate these Australians that highly either. Someone like Woakes and Curran, with these Dukes in a humid August on green seamers, could absolutely be vital.

    4. If weather is decent in at least 3 of the 5 Tests, Australia win. Pissing drizzle, England do it. Guessing 3-2 either way.

    5. 3. Stokes, Foakes, and someone on debut. Australia won’t get many more.


  15. angst Jul 30, 2019 / 5:35 am

    1. 10 – it’s still the Ashes.

    2. Burns, Roy, Root.

    3. Yes, their attack is strong. England only have a chance if Smith and Warner fail consistently.

    4. 3-1 Australia (maybe 3-0) with one lost to weather.

    5. 3, Root 1 and Stokes 2. Roy and Burns to average under 15 for the series. Root 30, Bairstow 20, Buttler 20, Stokes 45. Average innings score for England 240.


  16. dannycricket Jul 30, 2019 / 6:04 am

    1. 4/10 The Ashes are a rare sporting event where I consider England winning more important than how entertaining it is, because all Australians are pricks. I *think* England are slight favourites, but could easily see them losing 4-1 or even 5-0 too.

    2. Burns is probably the most vulnerable of the three for being dropped since he’s had the most games in the position but, given the T20 Blast is on right now, I can’t see anyone new coming in to replace him from county cricket. So, Buttler, Roy, Root?

    3. I consider England favourites, but only by the slightest of margins. If things go against them, like weather conditions or the coin toss, then all bets are off. Weirdly, I consider Australia winning 5-0 more likely than England managing a whitewash.

    4. England win 3-2? Could be almost anything though, given both teams’ inconsistencies.

    5. 3? It depends on the pitches, of course, and whether the all-rounders improve after their fairly dismal showing against Ireland. I think Australia will score more centuries than England, but possibly fewer runs overall due to less depth in their batting lineup.


  17. Mark Jul 30, 2019 / 8:55 am

    Last time in 2015 on the two flat pitches in London England were marmalised. The three they won were in very helpful conditions where the ball moved about a lot. The one closer game was at Cardiff where England chased home the runs right at the end of day four. Day five would have been washed out as it rained all day in the south west.

    I just think it’s sad for cricket that the pitches and the balls are more important for England than the top order batting. Says a lot about the mind set of the people running English cricket.

    England are betting the farm on Anderson/Broad/Woakes with some extra pace from Archer. As long as the batsmancsn cobble together scores of 350 they fancy their chances.

    For Australia Smith and Warner will be huge. If Smith makes runs and can create partnerships they may be competitive. But England are banking on knocking them over regularly for less than 300.


  18. dlpthomas Jul 30, 2019 / 9:03 am

    10 /10 for how much I am looking forward to the series.

    Australia have the better side but home ground advantage is huge, It’s a long tour for the Australians so if they start poorly, the wheels could fall off. However, I don’t think that will happen and they should win 3 – 1 or 3 – 2.

    I was looking forward to seeing Jhye Richardson becoming Terry Alderman re-born but since that isn’t going to happen, I reckon Pattinson is the one to watch.

    Having said all of that, I have a lot of questions about how certain players will perform (especially Australian batsmen and Archer with the ball) so hopefully it will all come down to home ground advantage wins.


  19. Deep Purple Fred Jul 30, 2019 / 9:37 am

    On a scale of 1-10, how much are you looking forward to this Ashes series, and why?

    8, because its the Ashes. Despite everything, it’s the Ashes.

    England’s chronic weakness appears to be the top order. Come September, who do you think will be England’s 1-2-3?

    Alistair Cook, certainly. Maybe Vince but I’m not entirely sure as I don’t watch England’s feeder competitions so closely (country cricket, SA under 19’s);

    3) Australia come into this series, in my view, underestimated. They look massive favourites to me even though they haven’t won a series in England since 2001. Am I right to think that way?

    No. Australia a favourites in my view but only by a slim margin, and that margin is due to the bowling depth, and Smith alone for the batting. However both teams are capable of falling in a hole. I can’t rule out Broad running through them again, if conditions are right, one more time.

    If Root has the sort of great series that we suspect he is capable of, it will probably mean an English win.

    Australia still hasn’t proven it’s really come to grips with the levels of swing possible in England.

    If England gets its nose ahead, and Stokes goes out to celebrate mid-series, that could change the balance of the sides too.

    4) What do you think the final score will be, and who will be man of the series?

    3-2 to Australia. Man of the series – Cook. Maybe Smith.

    5) How many centuries do you think England will make in the entire Ashes?

    Cook will get three slow ones, all in a losing cause. Root will get two.
    Stokes will get 99, but a firm straight drive for the 100 will deflect off his partner’s bat back to the keeper and he’ll be run out.


  20. dArthez Jul 30, 2019 / 10:55 am

    On a scale of 1-10, how much are you looking forward to this Ashes series, and why?

    About 7. Has been ages since a Test has been played.

    England’s chronic weakness appears to be the top order. Come September, who do you think will be England’s 1-2-3?

    Cook, Vince and Ballance in the last Test. All the alternatives have been discarded too recently, or are in extremely horrible nick (Hameed). A lot will depend on what the series score is when Roy, Denly and Burns will be put out of their misery. If it is 3-0 Australia, Sibley or Crawley might get a go. If it is 2-1 or 1-0 (due to weather), Ed Smith will probably back experience.

    Roy might get a spot in the middle order if they suffer an injury there (and since Moeen’s batting is atrocious at the moment, there is the odd chance that Moeen will be dropped for Roy).

    Australia come into this series, in my view, underestimated. They look massive favourites to me even though they haven’t won a series in England since 2001. Am I right to think that way?

    No. Too much will depend on the toss, for any decent side to be called favourites in England. Australia are certainly a decent side, though the batting is a bit suspect.

    What do you think the final score will be, and who will be man of the series?

    4-0 to toss. Bad weather saving the winner of the toss in the other game. So depends on who tosses better (only the England – Pakistan series was won by toss loss in the last few years; England – South Africa was 4-0 to toss, and England – India was also 4-1 to toss). So, unless one side does not basically roll over and die after losing the toss (Australia in particular might overcome the toss on a flat wicket), whoever wins the most tosses will be man of the series (like Root ought to have been against India because of that).

    How many centuries do you think England will make in the entire Ashes?
    Of course that will heavily depend on the pitches and conditions. If they win a juicy toss, bowl out Australia for 50, and the weather clears up before the openers stroll then they might make 2 or three in an innings, when the life is already gone out of the Test. Or alternatively, bat well and get to 280, get another break with the weather, like they did against Ireland, bowl out Australia for 80-odd, and then someone blazes themselves to a ton.

    In pressure situations? Just one. And it won’t be Cook..


      • LordCanisLupus Jul 30, 2019 / 11:50 am

        Oh yes. I’ve never mentioned it on Twitter, ever. A well established figure saying I was being unreasonable because I had doubts…. and I was right. I take little pleasure in Hameed’s fortunes, but I do in seeing this all before and not being proved wrong. Of course I do. Still, read Atherton’s piece in the comments – even the best get drawn in….

        A friend of mine believes we should pick Hameed now. He will find his form at the top level. In some ways, that plan has more sense than picking Jason Roy.


  21. metatone Jul 30, 2019 / 1:53 pm

    From The G:

    “15) The Ashes may be won in a factory in Walthamstow. In May, after a run-laden start to the county season, the ECB asked for a new batch of Duke balls to be made for the Ashes, similar to those used in 2017 and 2018. They have a bigger seam and a heavier lacquer, which England hope will allow their seamers to expose Australia’s fragility against the moving ball.”

    What could possibly go wrong with that plan?


    • Deep Purple Fred Jul 30, 2019 / 3:15 pm

      There was a time, (ie. all recent series in England), when that was a pretty safe plan. The Australian strategy for a ball that wouldn’t go in a straight line was just to swing harder. Be more aggressive, show more intent, attack. Sledge harder, maybe. I recall that Smith and Rogers were the only ones who could get bat on ball; Smith because he’s a class above, and Rogers because he’d spent the Australian winter playing county.

      Maybe the teams have come a bit closer together in this respect, Australia is playing a bit more intelligently these days, with a bit more adaptability and humility (a humble team, with much to be humble about), and England’s test batting class has decidedly declined.

      Although the conditions are foreign for Australia, their bowling attack is probably good enough to figure it out and bowl as well as the English, and take just as much advantage of these Dukes-on-steroids. So yes, definitely a double-edged sword.


      • LordCanisLupus Jul 30, 2019 / 3:23 pm

        To point out that today Mike Selvey said that Ben Stokes is currently England’s second best batsman. Ben Stokes averages 33.

        If he’s second best, we are in trouble. (Bairstow has an average near 36, so could probably lay claim to second best status),


  22. dArthez Jul 30, 2019 / 4:04 pm

    Prithvi Shaw has been suspended by the BCCI till the middle of November for a doping violation.


    • Marek Jul 30, 2019 / 4:12 pm

      …for taking an over-the-counter cough medicine.

      I know that there are some serious drug problems in most sports–so there almost certainly are in cricket too–and that banned substances can be masking agents…but governing bodies’ drug policies don’t half look ridiculous sometimes.


    • dArthez Jul 30, 2019 / 7:10 pm

      I agree many doping violations are often idiotic. Most of these banned substances are based on the assumption that any particular physical effect is an advantage to the user, almost completely regardless of the sport. Most of those effects have not been proven in many sports or disciplines. So it is a lot of guesswork, and there might also be some dubious agendas in some cases. .

      I really don’t even understand why cricket even bothers with doping rules. It is not like national boards funding depends on being WADA aligned or anything of the sort (would be a different matter if cricket became Olympic, but the ECB in particular is opposed to the other boards getting access to money to grow the game). And even if you can run a bit faster between the wickets, that may well come at the cost of being able to bat as well, or have the requisite control over the limbs while bowling.

      Not saying that no doping product is beneficial for cricket performance, but the scientific evidence has never been produced. A bit like DRS (there is evidence, but it is proprietary, so no one really knows).

      What surprises me is how few cricketers are actually caught (since there must be a few thousand professional cricket players world wide).


      • dArthez Jul 30, 2019 / 7:23 pm

        Let me just add the example of chess. Caffeine appears to increase the quality of chess moves played, but also results in players making their moves more slowly. If you then exclude the time losses (as was done in a study by Dr. Lieb, in a study that had some flaws), then of course, performance is better, because you exclude all the nasty side-effects of the caffeine.

        So what does it prove? People who think longer play better, than when they think less long. That is pretty much like saying a batsman who faces more balls has a higher chance of scoring more runs than when facing fewer balls. If that constitutes “proof”, then anything is doping.

        Also, where does it stop? In the case of chess, a higher general level of fitness will also increase performance. So running around in the middle of nowhere might be more beneficial than running around in say London or Liverpool, due to the quality of the air. If you are then not allowed to take counter measures to deal with the pollutants in the air, because that is doping (removing toxins from your body is probably going to have a positive effect on your performance), sport becomes an exercise in legalese absurdism.


      • Marek Jul 30, 2019 / 8:26 pm

        I think the main issue for me is that the rules seem to be strict liability–I felt the same about Andre Russell’s ban, which seemed to come basically from his agent being dozy with paperwork.

        Here they accepted that Shaw hadn’t intended to use it to enhance his performance; they didn’t even mention the possibility that he might have used it as a masking agent; they accepted it was an over-the-counter medicine used to treat a common ailment; the lad was 18 at the time, not a seasoned pro who’s had as many drug tests as I’ve had hot dinners–yet they still ban him for several months, which will be a stain on his record.

        Why not just give him an official reprimand, say publicly that he’s a silly boy, and assume that next time he’ll read the ingredients list properly?

        I’m not completely sure there are agendas, but there is an over-zealous ideology I think, which emanates mainly from WADA.


  23. Marek Jul 30, 2019 / 4:38 pm

    Armchair predictions–this is fun!

    1. 6 or 7. I’m much more a fan of Tests than one-day, but…there’ll be another one along soon. There’s just always something, somewhere–and one effect of that for me is that each individual series is less of an event than it was, say, 30 years ago.

    But maybe I shouldn’t be too blase. If I was a Zimbabwe fan right now…

    2. Jack Leach,…..[only joking!] Note to Funky Ed Diner: I was only joking–do not plagiarise this selection!

    Seriously–Dom Sibley, Jason Roy, Joe Root. England’s no. 4 will not be Joe Denly…and that’s not because he’s batting at no. 3 or no. 5.

    3. No–mainly because (in contrast to the World Cup) I don’t see too many people underestimating them. I agree that they’re favourites though–or if they aren’t, they should be.

    4. 3-2 to Australia…but you may not want to believe me, since I thought this time last year that England would lose 3-2!

    I thought along the same lines as you, LCL, about 4-1…but I think that might be to overestimate Australia and underestimate England (see: 2018, when England had the same batting issues. If they can survive with a waning Cook and Keaton Jennings, then they can manage with Burns and Roy!)

    MoS: Pat Cummins, the only Australian seamer to play all five Tests, gets 28 wickets at 22 and is sometimes unplayable. Gets Australia out of a hole at one point by scoring a counter-attacking 73 at no. 9–which also has the effect of acquiring two disciplinary points for a frustrated Zen Ben.

    There, that should get him injured in his first spell at Edgbaston!

    5. Let’s be optimistic–five. Two for Stokes, one each for Root, Buttler, and Roy. Surprisingly, none for Joe Denly. None for the surprisingly recalled 56-year-old Alec Stewart either.

    Buttler scores his 109 from 239 balls in a valiant rearguard which fails because some of his colleagues (hello, Jonny Bairstow) merrily slog their way to defeat instead (see: that match in India where he scored 8* off 60 balls and his colleagues did exactly that). Roy, obviously, scores his off 77 balls.


  24. edbayliss Jul 30, 2019 / 7:43 pm

    Q1. On a scale of 1-10, how much are you looking forward to this Ashes series, and why?
    On the Monday before the series starts? 4/10. It’s come too soon after the World Cup, and most of the County Red Ball Cricket stopped weeks ago, so it’s like the Ashes exist in isolation, and without context.

    Today the anticipation might be a four out of ten, but at 11:01 on Thursday morning it should be a nine.

    Remind me to book some fake meetings in for Thursday and Friday so I can listen without interruption.

    Q2. England’s chronic weakness appears to be the top order. Come September, who do you think will be England’s 1-2-3?

    I struggle with these questions as they have two parts: who are the best players and what will the selectors do?

    We have no stars for those roles, so any of Burns, Roy, Denly, Sibley, Vince, Pope, Stokes or Root could be there.

    A hundred at the right time can buy a player three more Tests- how the heck can you predict that?

    Denly isn’t that many failures from being dropped, so is unlikely to survive five Tests. Burns has a low average so is vulnerable to the media narrative. After scoring six and six against Ireland, averaging 22 from seven Tests, Burns is the next cab to be pulled over with a faulty brake light.
    Let’s say Roy, Sibley, Stokes come September. I wouldn’t stake my reputation on it.

    Q3. Australia come into this series, in my view, underestimated. They look massive favourites to me even though they haven’t won a series in England since 2001. Am I right to think that way?

    My modelling says the first Test is 58% England 34% Australia 8% Draw. Home advantage is massive.
    Australia have a weakness in their seventh batsman and fifth bowler. England will take wickets and have plenty of batting. Australia have more stars, but an unbalanced team as they’ll pick Lyon, and also need a fourth pace option.

    If England win the toss and bat, they should get 30 easy overs (Lyon in the first innings plus the fifth bowler). They just have to survive the first three hours. England should be able to do that more often than not, with Woakes at eight and Archer at nine. Should.

    Want to know something weird? Spinners average 43 in the first innings since 2005. Not Nathan Lyon. He averages 32 with 100 wickets. That’s fantastic, and better than his fourth innings average (34). Keep an eye on that, the series could hinge on it.

    Q4. What do you think the final score will be, and who will be man of the series?
    Let’s assume there will be one draw along the way. Then it comes down to how you see the other four games. If England have a 58% chance of winning the first Test, then 3-1 to England is the most likely scenario.

    If Man of the Series tends to be on the winning team, and tends to be a batsman, then Joe Root is the obvious choice. Away from the obvious, expect conditions suited to Anderson and Woakes – so Woakes at 20-1 with the bookies is interesting.

    Q5. How many centuries do you think England will make in the entire Ashes?

    Start with the probability of a hundred in each innings (49%, 55%, 40%, 30% respectively)
    Assume over five Tests we have 2.5 where England bat first, 2.5 where England bat second, 2.0 where England bat third and 2.0 where England bat fourth. Multiply the chance of a hundred by the expected number of innings and that makes four hundreds.

    England have 14 hundreds in the last 20 home Ashes Tests, so maybe four hundreds in five
    Tests is a bit on the high side, but it’ll do.


  25. dArthez Jul 31, 2019 / 8:36 am

    Rejoice! S. Ravi is no longer on the Elite Panel. There was no official reason given, but according to Adrian Griffith, the ICC Senior Manager, Umpires and Referees: “an elite official’s job is “extremely challenging” and that each match official is subject to a rigorous ongoing performance assessments throughout the year.”

    So he probably did not perform too well by the ICC umpiring standards.


  26. nonoxcol Jul 31, 2019 / 12:56 pm

    I wrote this a couple of days ago but got carried away and deleted my post. So here’s the shorter version:

    Q1. 3/10. Explained why below Sean’s post last weekend. Picked up a bit of interest in the last couple of days, but really it feels like the triumph of hype over quality cricket and has since the back-to-back multiple-career-ender of 5-6 years ago. I never would have said this in the 90s, regardless of the gap between the sides. Every series would have been 10/10. Every series up to and including 2013 was 10/10.

    Q2. Cook, Sibley and Vince. Look, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised. If I were feeling even more mischievous I’d insert “the new Sangakkara” for Sibley.

    Q3. Yes but (see below)

    Q4. That’s more or less what they said in 2015, and England won with a Test to spare. They’ll do their damnedest to pull the same trick, and as you well know the ever greater importance of home advantage and toss depresses me. Also, this weather is abysmal. I think we’ll end up with the same result, i.e. 3-2 England, with everyone trying their hardest to beat 2015’s record for shortest ever 5-Test series in terms of playing days (18). MotS: Anderson gets to 600 wickets then retires; is given the award even though one Aussie (let’s say Cummins) takes more wickets and scores handy runs.

    Q5. Three, one of which will be by Alastair Cook, burying that one hoodoo from his stellar career (no home Ashes hundred), shutting me up forever and giving Jonathan Agnew… (this is where I got carried away, so SNIIIIPPPP! as they used to say in Smash Hits)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Deep Purple Fred Jul 31, 2019 / 2:13 pm

      Oh, so you’re with me on Cook! You just know it’s going to happen, don’t you? Come-backs are so irresistible to so many sportsmen, Cook’s ego doesn’t strike me as the type to ignore the siren song.

      Reflecting on Dmitri’s comment about Stokes being second best bat. Thinking back to when it was Strauss, Cook, KP, Bell, Collingwood, Prior…didn’t seem THAT impressive at the time, but that was gold compared to now. Then I see the English team announced… barely recognisable.


      • nonoxcol Jul 31, 2019 / 2:37 pm

        I mentioned the same side to my workmate when he announced England’s XI for tomorrow – you forgot Trott by the way.

        The only thing that used to bug me about that outstanding team (until 2012, when other things started bothering me) was the insistence by a certain group of fans and media cheerleaders that they were definitely better than the 2005 side, or had achieved a lot more than they actually had. You even got people trying to claim Flintoff wouldn’t make a composite side, ffs. It seemed so soulless and unnecessary, and of course it backfired horribly in the end. On paper, by pure stats, they probably were, but I didn’t enjoy watching them half as much as the 2003-05 lot.


        • dArthez Jul 31, 2019 / 4:50 pm

          That 2009-2011 side won 8 series, 5 of them at home (West Indies, Ashes, followed by a drawn series in South Africa, and a series win in Bangladesh) Bangladesh in England, Pakistan Ashes in Australia, and then Sri Lanka and India at home. Then they lost a series to Pakistan (in the UAE), drew one in Sri Lanka, before losing to South Africa at home.

          2 of those series would barely be considered an achievement of sorts in those days (the two series against Bangladesh), while the win against West Indies, must also be seen in the context of a side that had not won a series on the road for 14 years at the time against a major team (currently, it is 24 years and counting). And was not really seen as much of an achievement, but as a correction for the humiliating series lost in the West Indies.

          The pure stats only insofar stats do not showcase quality of the players. Most of those sides had markedly declined from the 2003-2005 equivalents. It is just due to other developments in the game which somewhat padded up the statistics, that people don’t notice.

          When Tendulkar started his decline from an average of 56.94 (last Test against South Africa, which was also the last time he made a ton in a Test) to 53.64, he did so by barely averaging 30, over the course of 23 Tests. In other words, while the overall stats for Tendulkar still look mightily impressive, it is obvious (and anyone who bothered watching him bat could see that) that he was way past his best when England faced India in 2011. Stats simply mask that, because a measure like the average does not move much for someone who has played a lot of Tests.

          Likewise that the stats for 2011 in particular are outrageous (Bell averaging 100+, Cook 80+, Pietersen 70+, is more a reflection of the weak opposition faced in that calendar year than anything else. (and it is funny how some of the early 2000 stats get lambasted for including weak opposition such as Bangladesh, but that apparently does not apply to weak sides England faced in the 2009-2012 period). Simon Jones, in 2005 had a better bowling average than Broad or Anderson ever managed to achieve in the golden period. Now if you’re going to assume that Broad / Anderson were better bowlers, that is automatically going to imply that the batsmen had to average more, because the wickets were presumably better for batting.

          So a combined XI will not do without Trescothick, Vaughan (had a pretty decent period with the willow), Flintoff, and probably Harmison and Jones.

          You can then have Swann, Cook, Anderson and Prior from the later side. The other spots can probably be argued without end.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Deep Purple Fred Jul 31, 2019 / 2:48 pm

        Ah yes, Trott. I do try my best to forget him, for multiple reasons.

        Of course, at the time I didn’t lose any love on that lot, a number of them were tough to like, and it coincided with so much other garbage (bowling dry, Drill-Master Flower, Giles Clark, being outside cricket, an arrogant and defensive culture, and of course the ultimate crash-and-burn of the whole enterprise). But just on batting talent, they were pretty solid.

        But yes, 2005 and before was even better, and certainly more exciting. Would love to see Trescothick taking on the Aus quicks of today.


      • nonoxcol Jul 31, 2019 / 3:08 pm

        I love seeing old footage of Tres not moving his feet and still averaging over 50 in England!


  27. thebogfather Jul 31, 2019 / 1:09 pm

    I’m loving the responses so far
    A mix of humour, ECB fed tumour
    And many rights or writing of wrongs
    Of which we be but a piece of the throng
    Who, in reality aren’t expecting a lot
    From an Ashes series set to fill a slot
    I truly hope for something special from either side
    But blue stained soap leads me to deride
    Pretty much everything, from Root66 at 3
    To the Roy, Burns mix’n’match, and Joe (where/) Denly
    Fuck, I’m just hoping for the supreme first Test Mo’ Ton
    With luck (and here I’m groping) some serene Tests become
    What we’ll be talking about for years ahead
    E’en if it’s C5 highlights and TMS love-ins to dread


  28. Metatone Jul 31, 2019 / 7:38 pm

    England Women continuing the fine tradition of finally bringing in a competitive performance in the deadest of dead rubbers…


  29. nonoxcol Aug 1, 2019 / 7:08 am

    Have you ever seen anything this pathetically transparent?


    • metatone Aug 1, 2019 / 7:21 am

      Northern Superchargers? That’s just… a really crap name…


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