Continuing from the previous piece here:
Australian batsmen v English bowlers:
It must be said that this one is going to be an exciting battle and that is quite simply because the Australian batsmen have had a good time with the bat back home. Scores of more than 400 have been par for course and had it not been for a few early declarations, the Aussies would have got to more than 500 more frequently as well.
That said, whenever the opposition bowling attacks have been able to crank up a little, the Australian batsmen have struggled. Graeme Swann will hold the key given his ability to turn irrespective of the surface but what could be the deciding factor is the manner in which the pace bowlers bowl.
James Anderson and Stuart Broad average between 30 and 35 in Test matches but most importantly, their record in the recent past has translated into some of England’s best results in recent times. Whether they will be able to deliver the same quality on tracks where they haven’t spent the most of their times is a question that time will answer.
And yes, what could really tilt the balance in Australia’s favour is if Anderson does not recover sufficiently from the rib fracture that will have him fighting for fitness before the start of the first Test match.
The Pietersen factor:
This one could work either way. In a Jekyll and Hyde like fashion, when things are going for Kevin Pietersen, England have almost invariably dominated proceedings. However, when Pietersen struggles, it is not only the batting but the general outlook of the side that changes. All of a sudden, the vulnerabilities look more pronounced and the opposition has been able to sense the opportunity to go for the kill.
And Pietersen’s form has been the talk of the town already. He was dropped from the ODI squad in a bid to allow him to regain touch after an abysmal series against Pakistan and has not scored a 100 in 19 months now. With not too much domestic cricket to be played – if any – between now and the start of the Ashes, things could get tough for Pietersen with Ponting having already sounded out the nerves that he would feel in the first Test.
Home, sweet home:
In the last 11 Test matches that have been played in Australia, the hosts have won eight games, drawn one, lost only two of them. The wins had come against the weaker oppositions like West Indies, Pakistan and New Zealand – all of whom are struggling at international level – but it must be said that in a pressure series like the Ashes, every ounce of the advantage needs to be taken.
Let’s put it this way, to win the series, England will not only need to beat the Aussies at home but also overcome history – it has been 23 years since they won a Test series in Australia. This could make for an even contest for starters.
About the Author
Written by Suneer Chowdhary
A cricket-aspirant at the age of 12, tried my hand at pace bowling, but those were the days of India aspiring for spinners! So, chose the next best option to profess my love towards cricket; became a cricket writer instead