Ashes to Ashes Dust to Dust, Lee-KP help me remove blog rust..
First things first. My prediction? I haven't had the epiphany I did last time around where I predicted that England would win the Ashes, but common sense seems to suggest 2-1 to the Aussies. England without Simon Jones are a bit weak on the bowling front. Hoggy and Jimmy Anderson, both competent bowlers under English conditions, are always going to struggle down under, to the point of being ineffectual. It is going to have to be Freddie who's going to have to toil manfully, and I'd hate to see him pick up another injury or be reduced to a stock bowler. He bowled quite beautifully in the first innings and the workload probably reflected in his lethargic batting in first innings and in the cavalier attitude in the second. Giles is bloody useless, and frankly, he's got no business playing test cricket, when they have a young, more skilled and eager Monty Panesar. But what the heck, if Fletch wants it that way, he gets it that way. Finally, the one bowler who can make it or break it for England: Steve Harmison. He's going to be crucial.He's got the height, pace and bounce to trouble all the Australian batsmen, most of them a bit long in the tooth. You wouldn't think it looking at his appalling performance in the first test, but he needs to pick up his game quickly to a) Give England a realistic chance of taking 20 Oz wickets and b) Take someof the load of Freddie. Now on to the batting: Pathetic as they were in the first innings, England have already showed in the second that they have it in them to make a competetion of these Ashes. Let's leave out Strauss, who's become some sort of a happy hooker and will soon become a modern day Andrew Hilditch if he doesn't learn soon. Let's also leave out Bell, who for his first innings fifty, is still going to remain Warnie's bunny. Cook's decent, but he's got a long way to go. Collingwood was superb, leaning into his shots and playing those backfoot punches straight down the ground in a manner that would have made Sachin proud. But the one batsman, who's close to genius, and will destroy the Oz attack on his day, is KP. His batting yesterday, especially against Lee and Warnie, was fascinating to watch. Hooking, pulling and driving in style, he also wasn't shy of letting Warnie know what he thinks of him. I hope to see much more of him in the series. Now, if Freddie can get his batting together, he along with Collingwood and KP will define England's batting for the remainder of the Ashes.
Well, what about the Aussies then? Hard to fault a side which scores 602, bundles out the opposition for 157 and bats purposefully in the second essay to set, in even time, a target of 648. A couple of headaches though: Phil Jacques pushing Haydos for a place in the side, and Watson edging out one of Martyn or Clarke. That's a real heartache for me, really, considering how much I enjoy watching both of them bat. But no denying that with this geriatric Australian attack, they could use a genuine fifth bowler, and Watson might prove invaluable. Mcgrath, at 36, still bowled like God in the first innings (the one that got Cook? Superb!), but Ponting no longer has the confidence to enforce a follow-on given that his bowlers are on the wrong side of 30. Watson's presence could change that however, and it will be interesting to watch. Lastly, the great Adam Gilchrist: Voldemort himself. He's been a disappointment of late, and I really hope he goes back soon to his devastating self. It would be a pity if the world's already seen the last of Gilchrist, the scourge of bowling the world over. Plus, his keeping yesterday was shoddy.
Keeping my fingers crossed! I will update this blog regularly now, well, at least as frequently as the test matches are played:-)