Ashes 2010: Are England playing to Australia’s strengths?

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Tom Maston asks whether England have got their touring party right based on previous mistakes.

When England’s Ashes squad was announced just less than two weeks ago, eyebrows were raised over the selection of Surrey bowler Chris Tremlett. Despite not playing for the national side in any form of the game since June 2008, the selectors saw fit for him to be selected, mainly due to his 6’7” frame.

Tremlett’s height will, the selectors believe, be a huge advantage in Australian conditions. The extra pace and bounce that the pitches in Australia offer has meant that the 29-year old has gained selection over the likes of Yorkshire’s Ajmal Shahzad and Warwickshire’s Chris Woakes. Alongside Stephen Finn, who is much more likely to be picked for the First Test at the Gabba, the former-Hampshire star should be the most suited bowler to the conditions Australia has to offer.

However, a selection that the ECB may have felt has strengthened their bowling options may also be looked upon with happiness by the home side. A man whose bowling is suited to Australian conditions is likely to be something not too threatening to the home side’s top six.

Tremlett’s similarities with Sajid Mahmood ( a man picked for the 2006 Ashes whitewash) are alarming.. Mahmood is a tall, fast bowler who, like Tremlett, should be very much suited to the conditions Down Under. However, in 2006, Mahmood took five wickets at an average of 52.8 in the final three tests of the series, whilst going at over five runs an over. The home batsmen took a particular liking to him and he hasn’t played a test since the final match in Sydney. The fact that Mahmood was very much part of the national set-up, something that Tremlett can’t claim to be, makes the Surrey man’s selection slightly more worrying.

Realistically, Tremlett will most probably not play in the series unless there are injuries amongst the front-line bowlers. However, his selection in the squad shows that the English selectors are not learning from the mistakes made four years ago. Some of England’s finest bowlers have struggled in Australia, so a selection of a man without an away test match to his name must be seen as a risk.

This article is not saying Tremlett is a bad bowler. He has had a good first season at The Oval and may have felt himself slightly aggrieved to have not at least gained a call-up for the one-day side over the English summer. However, his selection for an Ashes tour after over three years in the test match wilderness with a style of bowling that the Australian batsmen will look upon fondly is a strange one to say the least, and further proof that the England selectors don’t seem to learn from their mistakes, something which has meant their team may again struggle to retain the famous little urn.

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  1. Bob says

    With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, I would say that Tremlett didn’t do too badly in the Ashes…

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