Ashes 100-1 Countdown: 3 Days Until the Ashes
David Green aka The Reverse Sweep picks 3 England players to watch and also a wildcard pick.
With just three days now until the first shots are fired in the Battle of the Gabba, today we name the three England players we expect to shine during the upcoming series plus our additional wildcard pick.
1. Ian Bell
At the Reverse Sweep we cannot be accused of jumping on the bandwagon on this occasion after Bell’s superlative 192 against Australia A, because we predicted back in September (see Could Ian Bell be England’s Ashes Ace in the Pack?) that Bell would “emerge as England’s highest run scorer over the winter“. In terms of ability and repertoire of shots, Bell is the most talented batsman in the England squad – bar none. However, in the past he has been let down by lapses in concentration and an inability to get runs when the pressure was really on. And of course he has a shocking record against Australia – averaging only 25.68 in 13 Ashes tests. But since he came back into the side at Edgbaston in 2009, Bell looks to have allied mental toughness to his immense talent. This was particularly evident in his plucky 72 in the Ashes decider at The Oval and even more so when he batted for most of the day with Paul Collingwood to save the Cape Town Test at the start of 2010. Bell seems to have found his niche at number six and is obviously in good touch, so now is the time to make the Australians see what all the fuss is about.
2. Stuart Broad
Winning the Ashes is in the blood for Broad. His inspired spell at The Oval in 2009 tipped the scales irrevocably in England’s favour and his father played a leading role with three hundreds in England’s last successful venture down under in 1986/87. Broad junior is in an excellent position to emulate his Dad by playing a leading role in the series. His height and the natural bounce he generates should make Broad extremely dangerous on the hard and pacy Australian wickets and we tip him to be England’s leading seamer in the series. And following on from his 169 against Pakistan at Lord’s, Broad should enjoy himself with the bat too given his liking for the ball coming on to the bat.
3. Graeme Swann
Big things are expected of Swann in the series and we believe that he will deliver. Some cricketers buckle when thrust into the limelight, but as Shane Warne amusingly observed Swann thrives on the attention “He’s going to walk around like David Hasselhoff, and love being the man with the ball“. And Swann undoubtedly is the ‘man with the ball’ – he is the best spinner in the world and he should enjoy the extra bounce he can expect to get in Australia as unlike other English spinners of previous vintage, Swann really gives it a rip. The Australian batsmen are likely to attack Swann, but he will enjoy that and we expect him to at least equal his performance on similar wickets in South Africa last winter when he took 21 wickets in the four tests.
Wildcard – Chris Tremlett
It is unlikely that England will keep the same trio of fast bowlers for all five tests and Tremlett is the next cab on the rank. Ideally suited to Australian wickets, the tall Tremlett impressed against Australia A with seven wickets and looks ready to add to the three tests he played against India in 2007. Tremlett did well against India and troubled all of their batsmen with his extra bounce, but injuries and loss of form meant he went off the radar until he bounced back with new county Surrey this summer. Warne wrote back in September that he believes that if “the penny drops for Chris, then he can be a world-beater” going on to say that “he could be the No 1 bowler in the world“. We’re not sure if we would go that far, but Tremlett can definitely make an impression on this series.
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