Ashes 100-1 Countdown: 5 Days Until the Ashes
David Green aka The Reverse Sweep gives England their marks out of ten for the warm up game alongside his verdict for the real games.
Mission accomplished. England have successfully negotiated their three warm-up matches winning two comfortably and having the better of a rain affected draw against South Australia. On previous tours, England have been embarrassed by Australia A – but not this time as the second string bowling attack and the blade of Ian Bell proved too much for Cameron White’s fledglings in Hobart.
So England now move on to Brisbane and the real action with pretty much all cylinders firing. Strauss, Cook and Bell have all hit hundreds, Collingwood looks to have regained his touch, the first and second string bowlers have all hit their straps and there are no injuries. There are some concerns over Kevin Pietersen – but he tends to save his best for the big occasion – and Jonathan Trott, whose highest score to date is 41. But these are reasonably minor worries and overall England look in fine fettle.
Sky Sports are to be applauded for showing the Australia A game as with our insomniac five month daughter, it has enabled the small hours to pass more pleasurably over the last four nights. As such, here is how the England XI rated over the game plus our view on their readiness for the series:
Andrew Strauss – 6: Looks in really good touch even if he only scored 10 in the first innings. His defensive field placings really got up the nose of the Channel 9 commentators, but overall marshalled his troops well. Verdict: Two centuries in three warm-ups mean Strauss is ready to make-up for his poor 2006/07 series
Alastair Cook – 7: Continued his upturn in form from the first warm-up match but again looked scratchy until he’d played himself in. Poor shot to get out, but looks ready for the Gabba. Verdict: As ready as someone with Cook’s technical flaws could be
Jonathan Trott – 6: Hit his highest score of the tour and looked comfortable enough until he was beaten for pace by Cameron for a horrible looking dismissal. Verdict: Was due a run of low scores after his run filled English summer and appears to be pretty unflappable, so more or less ready
Kevin Pietersen – 3: It looked like the old swagger and confidence had returned, but his nightmares against left arm spinners resurfaced when inexplicably playing down the wrong line to a straight one from O’Keefe. It will be fascinating to see if he can return to past glories when the real action starts. Verdict: Could have done with one big score in the warm-up matches, but we are still backing him to fire
Paul Collingwood – 8: A second successful score of 80+ means the Trojan of the Trenches looks ready for hand to hand combat with the Australians in Brisbane. Verdict: Looks back in nick and ready for action
Ian Bell – 9.5: A sublime and dreamy innings from a man who appears to be in the form of his life. The way he took apart Smith was both brilliant and ruthless. Verdict: Finally, it looks like Bell’s time to shine against the Australians has arrived.
Matt Prior – 6: Continues to impress with the gloves where the improvement since he first appeared for England is massive. Decent enough cameo with the bat – albeit with a disappointing dismissal. Verdict: Would have liked to have scored more runs in the warm-up matches
Tim Bresnan – 7: Six wickets with the ball and a useful 36 with the bat means it was a successful match for the willing Yorkshireman. But test class? We’re not so sure. Verdict: Won’t lack for application if he gets a chance in the series, but is he good enough?
Ajmal Shahzad – 6: Not even in the squad, but was the best performer with the ball in the first innings especially in the first session of the match. Slipped back in the second innings but the feeling persists that his bowling style may suit Adelaide. Verdict: Unlikely to get a chance, but showed that England have real strength in depth
Chris Tremlett – 8: Is the next cab on the rank for a place in the bowling attack and match figures of 7/121 shows that the big Surrey bowler will be ready when called upon. Flower and Strauss should seriously consider putting him in the XI at Brisbane – even if that would be harsh on Finn. Verdict: Looks, fit, focused and in-form. Get him in.
Monty Panesar – 7: Looks to have recaptured his enjoyment for the game. Took a stunning catch, did his job at nightwatchman with aplomb and bowled with control and accuracy, before finally being rewarded with three second innings wickets. Verdict: If England opt for two spinners at Adelaide and/or Sydney then Monty is ready
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