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Ashes: England dead and buried?

Discussion in 'Sports Talk' started by allhailIndia, Jun 28, 2006.

  1. allhailIndia

    allhailIndia Deity

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    After the blizzard of football related threads, a small break for a little cricket in the two days before the quarters....the topic being the upcoming, much anticipated Ashes series.

    Going by their superfantastic form against the Sri Lankans (they couldn't win a home series against them!!) I predict a thorough and complete wipe-out in the Ashes for the English.

    Vaughan looks out for the count, their new crop is well...less than the cream and Freddy Flintoff joins a long and somewhat illustrious list of injured players.

    Frankly I don't see Sajid Mahmood and co. making the Aussies quake in their boots down under, nor is Darlymple the kind who will smash Brett Lee and co all over the park with his scintillating strokeplay. Alas Kevin Pietersen seems to have been swallowed by the hype and has done precious little in the recent one-day series. Trescothick plows a lonely furrow in the field of destruction as the landscape is littered by the battered remains of `one more defeat....

    Anyone fancy a different take?
     
  2. col

    col Old Fart Retired Moderator

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    Nope not me.

    The team of last summer has been pretty much broken up by injury.
     
  3. allhailIndia

    allhailIndia Deity

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    kinda tragic really...

    I remember the huge crowd in the common room of our hostel, egging on England in the last match. Even India-pakistan matches don't always draw such a crowd. It was a fantastic series and I think ALL cricket lovers enjoyed the whole thing, not just the English...Will be a great pity if England just roll-over and get swept away Down Under..
     
  4. allhailIndia

    allhailIndia Deity

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    just saw the scores for the last ODI, and....OMG that was an absolute slaughter!!

    If this is what Sri Lanka can do to England's (next best after) finest, in English conditions, I can scarce imagine what will happen in the Australia...lambs to the slaughter.
     
  5. col

    col Old Fart Retired Moderator

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    Yup - we've no chance.
     
  6. Xerol

    Xerol Emperor

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    Might want to go back and rethink that statement. I know it's somewhat arrogant to make a judgement on the state of the team based on one test, but it seems like they're finally settling in and adjusting to a side that's pitted with injuries. If Cook and Bell can stay healthy until November I don't think they'll have any problems getting enough runs to at least play for draws, and if Harmison and Panesar can keep up their performance it's gonna be a hell of a series. (The two of them took all of the wickets in the 2nd Eng-Pak test, except for one run out at the end of the first innings. I'd say that's a pretty good show.)
     
  7. Scratcher

    Scratcher Emperor

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    ^ but Pakistan were pathetic! Their performance can hardly be compaired to what the Aussies will dish up on their own turf.

    I truely hope England play well in Australia and the series is good to watch, but I hold little expectations that England can hold on to the ashes.
     
  8. phoenix_night

    phoenix_night Deity

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    I think that's a bit much tbh, and possibly a bit of a knee-jerk reaction?

    The ODIs aren't really relevant. England were in the driving seat throughout the first two tests, and though they lacked the killer touch, it was only a dramatic collapse against Muralitharan that really prompted such major concerns. Sure, it wasn't good to watch, but it was only one day of cricket and England have already shown they can take on and beat a team including Warne.

    As for the batting, I think England will be (possibly considerably) stronger than last time around. Trescothick and Strauss have the benefit of experience going into this series; Strauss in particular will benefit fom going into this series with 2 test centuries against Warne to his name. There shouldn't be any of the cluesness that dogged his game early in the last series.

    Pietersen likewise has only had time to mature, and has since recorded 3 more test centuries, two in excess of 140. If Flintoff can get fit, then that's the backbone of the lineup from the last series, and better equipped too.

    The other two batsmen in the last series were Vaughan and Bell, and despite Vaughan's hundred and Bell's fifties at Old Trafford, the two failed to produce consistent runs. There was talk of dropping Bell, and early in the series it was recognised that Vaughan's captaincy was doing a lot to keep him the side. I think England are now in a position to rectify the problems of these two batting spots.

    Alastair Cook has 3 centuries in 7 matches (plus a first class double hundred against Australia), and has the opener's temperament to be a solid number three, and provide some insurance in the line up. In Vaughan's place you have a choice: Collingwood - has scored two centuries since the Ashes (including that excellent 186 in the first test v Pakistan), is seen as one of England's stronger players of spin, and a good fit in between Pietersen and Flintoff; or Bell - now has 4 centuries to his name (three of which against Kaneira, who many believe has better disguised variation than Warne) and seems to be finally gaining some authority at test match level.

    With everybody fit, there's some difficult decisions to be made. I don't think there's a problem with the batting. With Glenn McGrath 18 months older, lacking match fitness and without any match practice, I think it could be another case of how many matches from him, and with no guarantee of form. Of course, Australia's other speed merchants (Lee and Tait - is he even fit yet?) already failed dismally in the last Ashes. Gillespie on the other hand, has conned his way back into the side with wicket taking performances against the might of Bangladesh and is now experiencing a pretty mediocre season of county cricket with Yorkshire (averaging 30+).

    I haven't got much to say about the keeper. Either Jones will stay, or Read will come in. I don't think the team will be any weaker in that department either way.

    This is the issue though...bowling.
    If Flintoff doesn't make it...I'm not sure how many late nights of Ashes cricket I could manage if England's were reduced to bowling the likes of Plunkett and Mahmood in tandem. However, Harmison's 11 wicket haul in this latest test match is promising, especially considering his somewhat dissapointing Ashes last year, having ascended to the status of world's number one bowler not long before. Though people like to point to home advantage for Australia this time around, the pitches down under will at least favour Harmison.

    Hoggard will inevitably retain his place, leaving the question of who replaces Simon Jones. This will be the weak link in the bowling attack I expect, it just depends on how will England can cover it up. Supported by a four man seam attack including Harmison-Hoggard-Flintoff, it could be fine. If the exclusion of Flintoff forces England into a three man attack, it could be...not so good.

    Despite what I said about the possibility of England bowling Plunkett-Mahmood in tandem above, I don't think that can happen. Either Flintoff will make it and take his place in the attack, or he won't, and England will be reduced to a three man pack attack as they will definitely want a spinner in the side. This is one area that right now looks very promising. Giles received a lot of stick prior to the Ashes, and despite taking a few wickets and in the eyes of some proving himself within the team, his stats weren't too impressive. Until recently I though Dalrymple may take Giles's place due to his batting ability, but Giles only produced with the bat in one innings last series, so I don't think England really have to worry about filling his batting shoes. In that case, and considering Panesar's recent form (second test mach five-for yesterday), I think England could count the spin department as a clear improvement from last year's Ashes. Giles has been used almost exclusively as a defensive bowler for England, whereas Panesar is already being used a wicket taking bowler. Early into the attack yesterday, he removed five of the opposition's top six - that opposition being the familiar-to-spin Pakistan lineup, no less.

    So I think the bowling is touch and go. If Flintoff is fit, then I think the England attack have a chance to emulate, or even surpass last year's efforts. Harmison and Flintoff bowling on the relatively fast and bouncy pitches of Australia would be a powerful force IMO - both capable strike bowlers. I don't have as much confidence in saying that of Hoggard or Plunkett. It could be good, it could be bad, but it's not as if Australia aren't facing similar problems in filling their own bowling attack.

    If Flintoff is fit, then England could decide not to play a fourth seamer anyway, and rather to play whichever batsman would miss out - Collingwood or Bell, or to play a second spinner in Dalrymple, who would also strengthen the batting further.

    IF Flintoff...
    IF Flintoff...
    IF Flintoff...
    IF Flintoff...
    IF Flintoff...

    I think it may come down to that, but I certainly don't think it's done and dusted, no contest, a walkover or anything like...England could easily head to Australia with an on paper stronger lineup. I think it will be an entertaining series either way, with plenty of individual performances to remember. And thanks to Cricket Australia for endorsing that idea: allowing England players to get fitness through playing Australian club cricket. :goodjob:

    About time the Aussies did us a favour. ;)
     
  9. Xerol

    Xerol Emperor

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    It's more of a symbolic/morale thing - prior to this they haven't been doing too great in tests or ODIs, and getting such a decisive victory couldn't come at a better time, given all the recent (and not-so-recent) injury news.

    And as far as the ODIs are concerned, that's really something they need to work at, and I don't think they will too much - they're built for tests, and the Ashes will be great to watch (my first since starting to follow cricket) but they don't stand a chance at the World Cup (which is probably better discussed elsewhere).

    I think what it comes down to, really, is keeping everyone who's left healthy and getting some good news from the injury side, even if they can't actually make it back to the side in time, because IMO team morale is half of the equation. And if they go out there in a good mood, ready to fight to hold the Ashes, Australia's gonna have a hell of a time doing otherwise.
     
  10. col

    col Old Fart Retired Moderator

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    Ok - not no chance - but a very small chance.

    Lets look at it.

    Harmison - has played wellish in one test. Actually his control at Old Trafford was poor but the Pakistani batsmen were like bunnies in the headlights on a pacy pitch. i dont think batsmen who play at Perth regularly will be much worried. His lack of consistency is worrying and he is well off the bowler who was once #1.

    Hoggy cant buy a wicket when the ball doesnt swing.

    Panesar is the best spin bowler England have had for a long time - but will probably get dropped for Giles because he cant bat or field.

    Flintoff is currently injured and may be making a comeback just before the first test. Jones ? Who knows?

    None of the backup bowlers have looked convincing. Mahmood blew his chances. If he cant take wickets on a helpful pitch when will he? Plunkett? Dont think so. I expect Broad to get a chance before long.

    England havent faced a decent pace attck at all in their recent games. Cook certainly hasnt and Bell didnt do so well last Summer.

    Jones the keeper has responded to criticism of his keeping by improving immensely behind the stumps and batting dreadfully in front of them.

    Vaughan has effectively admitted that his careeer is probably over.

    So what have we got. An England side going through a major rebuild. In a couple of years time, we might have a decent team. This winter - against a team burning for revenge on their home patch?

    No chance.
     
  11. Simon Darkshade

    Simon Darkshade Mysterious City of Gold

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    Should be an interesting series, and I hope England get some players back so that it can be a little close to last year.
    Learning from last time, I will not make any predictions until closer to the series. Everything that could go right for England went right, and it could be said the opposite happened often for us. That is no excuse.

    Hopefully there will be less of the chummy behaviour of last time, and more of the attitude that Border got into the team to win in 89 and subsequent series.

    What is that Monty bloke like?
     
  12. Bray

    Bray Chieftain

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    Bell isn't really that good he will either get out for like 6 or get a good 100 odd but more than often its the 6 option he just isn't consistant personally i wouldn't play him, also I think that if we get our squad fit again then we stand a chance even if there are still a couple of people out but at our current strength we will get walked over!
     
  13. phoenix_night

    phoenix_night Deity

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    This is pretty indicative of the defeatist attitude of your whole post though isn't it? On batting form, Vaughan would be dropped...at the moment, he'd probably struggle to break into England's top 8 or even 10 batsmen. Losing Vaughan is strengthening the batting.

    Losing Flintoff from the batting lineup isn't necessarily the end of the world either, you know. His record as a batsman alone, and even ignoring the slow start to his career, is no better than the other batsmen in contention.

    Last series England played with effectively four front line batsmen for all but one test, now Vaughan will be replaced, and Bell will either be replaced or through improvement regain his place as a permanent fixture in the side. How the hell can the batting be at all weaker this time around?

    And the bowling...to date, we've lost ONE bowler. Flintoff is obviously a large factor in the series, but to date we've only lost ONE bowler from the last Ashes series. Saying Harmison is only bowling "wellish" is pointless, as he hardly had an incredible series last time. Sure, that emphasises the loss of Jones, but that's already accounted for when comparing Jones to his replacement...I don't see how you can say Harmison looks any worse than he did during the Ashes.

    Also, Giles will be lucky to play. If England can only field 2/3 of the pace attack from last summer, I don't think they'd want to occupy another position with a solely defensive player - they need wickets. Giles may be okay as a safety valve backing up the four pronged seam attack, but he can't fulfill the role of a front line strike bowler; neither can he produce consistenly with the bat against Australia. Panesar will no doubt play. I'd put money on it.

    Also, are you asking when did England last come up against a quality bowling attack? So you think they will this time? Warne, sure. You can hardly say England haven't played quality spin since then though. McGrath? Well sure, but we have no idea how fit he will be, what frame of mind he's in...he's barely played this year...That's it then. You can't seriously be fearing Gillespie, and Lee was awfully bad in the Ashes last year (average of 40? pathetic...). Australia don't have the strength in bowling, even within the first team, that England had last summer. While England may not be on a par with what they produced last year, Australia will always offer a release in their second line bowlers...Watson? Clark? Symonds even?

    Australia haven't come against great attacks since last year either you know. Allowing the failures of last summer to pick their averages back up, smashing the likes of the West Indies around on flat and hard Aussie wickets hardly rectifies their problems...




    At this point, England are down ONE PLAYER from last summer: Simon Jones. Vaughan? Would be dropped if not for his captaincy anyway, and the batting will be stronger in his absence. Giles admits himself he's no longer first choice spinner (and if they wanted a batting spinner they'd just as likely choose Dalrymple). Then we may lose Flintoff. But as of now, there's only ONE clear weakness where there wasn't one before. I don't see how that takes a team from Ashes winners to no hopers...
     
  14. phoenix_night

    phoenix_night Deity

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    Oh, and Geraint Jones has today been dropped from the England squad, replaced by Notts' Chris Read. Likely to stay that way up to and including the Ashes, IMO.
     
  15. classical_hero

    classical_hero In whom I trust

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    Let's just face it. Why bother coming here in the first place when you can just give us the trophy and stop all this nonsensein the ifrst place? :D
     
  16. phoenix_night

    phoenix_night Deity

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    Because even if you win 5-0, we'll never give you the trophy. :D
     
  17. col

    col Old Fart Retired Moderator

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    I think we need to be realistic. We need Freddie for his bowling. Thats what will win or lose. At present our bowling attack is nowhere near as good as it was last Summer. Dont underestimate the loss of Simon JOnes. he was the one England vowler to consistently reverse the ball which was crucial in taking wickets once the new ball shine had gone.

    We are missing half of our Ashes attack. Our batting has not moved on. Pieterson seems more concerned to get his picture in the celebrity columns and has started to believe his own hype. Trescothick is out of form. Bell the only player to move forward this Summer.

    The Jones /Read debate is further from being settled than ever.

    England are playing spin pretty well - but McGrath, Lee and Tait at home will be a different proposition.

    I'd say England have about a 25% chance right now.
     
  18. phoenix_night

    phoenix_night Deity

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    I agree our bowling is weaker, and losing Freddie would be a huge blow but...

    Our batting is IMO, comfortably stronger. Vaughan and Bell were passengers last time around, but we shouldn't have to deal with that this time. Bell has certainly moved on, and five centuries between the new faces of Cook and Collingwood certainly suggests progress too.

    As for Pietersen, I think you're jumping on some media bandwagon regarding that criticism. A few weeks ago the guy scored 158 and 142 in consecutive tests...he's consolidated his average, which was below forty prior to the final Ashes test, in the mid to high 40s. Also, let's not forget that the out of form Trescothick does actually have a test century to his name this summer. In fact all of England's top six have registered centuries in the five tests so far this summer, totalling 9 centuries between them (compared to 5 in the five Ashes tests last year).

    And why are you mentioning Lee and Tait as being major threats? Lee was a complete passenger with the ball last summer, averaging 40. Do you think the Aussies would be terrified of seeing Ashley Giles again? Because they're stats were quite similar...As for Tait, he hasn't played a test since the Ashes, and you expect him to come back as a world class force? He's behind even the likes of Plunkett and Mahmood in terms of experience and wickets. His record last summer was comparable to Lee's - both useless. That's why England racked up a minimum of 373 in each of the first innings of the last four tests. What's changed? Well England have the benefit of more experience against Warne, plus four series against sub continent spinners, while McGrath has barely played in recent months and will likely be struggling for fitness just as much as last year; this in addition to the expected wear and tear you'd expect a 36 year old fast bowler to experience.
     
  19. col

    col Old Fart Retired Moderator

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    Hmm - I wouldnt describe Lee as any kind of passenger. he was comfortably the best Aus bowler after the incomparable Warne.

    I'm not jumping on any bandwagons with Pieterson. Perhaps I expect too much. It is frustrating to see him score 30 or 40 then throw his wicket away with a poor shot. Perhaps it is about experience.

    On balance I think youre right, our middle order batting is stronger - but our tail is much worse. We need runs from 7 and 8 which we havent been getting for some time.

    It will be interesting to see how Read goes as keeper.
     
  20. phoenix_night

    phoenix_night Deity

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    A bowling average of 40. I honestly have no idea how you can put any kind of positive spin on that. That was nearly double McGrath's average.

    Admittedly Panesar is a weaker batsman than Giles, but I don't think that qualifies our tail as much worse. In fact, if Simon Jones is indeed to be replaced by Plunkett - who has an international fifty to his name, then perhaps the disadvantage of Panesar will be negated. Of course, if Flintoff is fit then England will always have the option of playing seven front line batsmen with the keeper coming in at 8.

    I expect he'll maintain a higher average than Geraint Jones has done this year - 15. I quite like Read as a batsman. He seems to have good hands; he's comfortable manipulating the ball and taking the attack to the bowler, something which Jones always seems more laboured in doing.

    For me, this is another improvement over last year's team (Jones only managed one fifty in the series).
     

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