Monday, April 24, 2006

Not really heretical

I do not think, as many Australians might, that it is heresy to suggest that England will retain the Ashes when they tour Down Under some months from now. If the English pace attack is healthy, some reasonably rational bets could be placed on them winning or drawing the series (they hold the Ashes, remember?; now, they are the ones to go into a series with this luxury). A foursome of Flintoff, Harmison, Jones and Hoggard will be a handful for any Australian batting line-up, whether or not Hayden has sorted out whatever problems afflicted him during the Ashes. Reverse-swing, genuine pace and awkward bounce (and backed up by the big hearts of those four) will always come through. Australian teams will still be subject to noisy crowds getting on their nerves (despite the supposed machinations of the ACB to reserve the majority of tickets for Australian fans, I predict that the scalping market will see plenty of Barmy Army types sneak in at the last minute), and their pitches will aid both the English batsmen and bowlers. All in all, it should be an absolute cracker. (This post is remarkably premature, I realize, but so is all prognostication on the Ashes, and my thoughts were only sparked by reading about Steve Waugh making similar remarks).

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