Ashes 100-1 Countdown: 8 Days Until the Ashes
David Green aka The Reverse Sweep looks at 10 possible contributing factors to Australia regaining the Ashes.
Yesterday we gave ten reasons why England will retain the Ashes. Today it is the turn of Australia as we provide the same number of reasons why they will regain the urn come January in Sydney.
1. Home comforts
Australia’s record at home since Mike Gatting’s intrepid side won 2-1 down under in 1986/87 is phenomenal, with only three series lost since – West Indies won 3-1 in 1988/89 and 2-1 in 1992/93 whilst South Africa won 2-1 in 2008/09. Winning in Australia is tough. Are the Poms really good enough?
2. The Poms don’t travel well
England have only won eight out of 25 Ashes series in Australia since 1900 and none since 1986/87. In the last 26 tests on Australian soil, England have won only three – Adelaide 1994/95, Melbourne 1998/99 and Sydney 2002/03 – all dead rubbers. Going from that to winning some live test matches would be quite a transformation.
In a series this close it will be crucial to get off to a good start. Fortunately for Australia, Brisbane is their favourite venue with only one defeat in their last 23 Tests at the Gabba – and 17 wins. England, who don’t have a warm-up match in Queensland have been smashed by 10 wickets in 1990, 184 runs in 1994, 384 runs in 2002 and 277 runs in 2006. They did manage a draw in 1998 but only because they were saved by a tropical thunderstorm.
The Australian captain may not be the batsman he once was but he knows he is drinking in the last chance saloon. If he loses an unprecedented third Ashes series as captain, he knows he will be relieved of the captaincy. And Australia don’t have a habit of keeping ex-captains in the side. That could lead to a Ponting game-face not seen since the 2006/07 Ashes and we all know what happened then.
5. The Kookaburra
England’s seam attack was pretty impressive in the English summer and the trio of Anderson, Broad and Finn offer a potent combination of swing, pace and bounce. But all this was achieved with the Duke ball and the Kookaburra is different. Australia don’t rely so much on swing and are arguably better suited to be more effective with a non-swinging ball in non-swinging conditions than an England attack of which only one has played international cricket in Australia before.
6. Watson and Kato
One of the reasons that England struggled so much on their last trip down under was the poorform of Strauss and Cook and their inability to give England a good start. The same opening pair are in tandem this time and question marks remain over Cook in particular. Australia on the other hand have an opening pair in Watson and Katich that have given their side a good start on a regular basis since they came together at Edgbaston in 2009. If they can continue their success this time then Ponting, Clarke and the batsmen picked at five and six should be able to build from a firm basis.
7. Mitchell’s Mum
Johnson may bowl like a drain away from Australia, but he is a different proposition on home pitches. Whether it is because he is in close proximity to his Mum and her rolling pin, who knows? But England will underestimate a bowler with an uncanny knack of taking wickets with bad balls at their peril.
8. Old Scars
With the exception of Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott (and he has only played one Test against Australia), all of England’s top six have indifferent records against Australia. Strauss averages 38, Collingwood 35, and Bell and Cook 26. All have scars that can be reopened and that is exactly what Ponting and his bowlers will be plotting come Brisbane on 25th November.
9. Form is temporary
Australia may be getting a hard time at the moment over their form, but is it really that bad? They lost a two-test series away to the number one ranked side and but for Bollinger’s sore stomach and the inspirational VVS Laxman they would have at least drawn that series. They also lost the Headingley test to Pakistan, but they beat the same side in the other four tests they played against them in the last year. Australia also won a series recently in South Africa. If they can get things together in time for Brisbane, they will be extremely tough to beat on their own pitches.
10. The X(avier) Factor
Australia’s secret weapon could be a bowler who has a first-class average of 48. But just maybe it is all part of an elaborate ploy to trick the Poms and Xavier Doherty is actually a left-arm version of Shane Warne. And we all know who struggles against slow-left-armers, don’t we KP?
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