Are Australia really as good as some in the media fear?
Australia v England Ashes Test Series
The media are focusing on England’s recent results, previous tours down under and players missing from the trip this winter instead of looking at Australia’s recent miserable form in Test cricket. Just last year the hosts lost a series in their own backyard to South Africa 2-1, losing the first test by 177 runs and the second by an innings and 80 runs.
It’s obvious the Aussie’s aren’t the powerhouse they used to be, which was always going to be difficult to maintain. That said, there’s no doubting the home-side still have quality players but they seem to lack depth.
Looking at the squad for the first Test, one thing that really stands out is the lack of quality with the bat in the lower order and tail. If England manage to get past Warner, Khawaja and Smith without too much damage being caused they could knock over the Aussies pretty cheaply.
Australia will have their day, and there’s no ignoring the talent in their bowling ranks, and with Starc and Warner they’ve got two players who can win a test on their own.
I talk about Stuart Broad below but he’s going to be massive in this series and if he can get going with the new ball and take a few quick wickets the Aussies will be really exposed.
Another key man for the visitors in Moen Ali, given the heat in Australia, it’s vital you have a spinner who can tie down one end and control the match. As mentioned Australia’s individual brilliance will win a Test, but I think they’re a lot weaker than people think.
Mitchell Starc looks far too short in the top bowler market, there’s no doubting that the Aussie quick is a class act, but questions still remain if he can do it over a sustained period with the red ball. He’s got a bowling average of a smidgen over 31 against England. I’ve got no doubts Starc will have periods in the series when he’s unplayable (most likely with the pink ball), but I struggle to see how he’s backable at this price with inconsistency looming over him.
Stuart Broad has caused the Aussies some frights over the years, and he actually came out of the 2013/14 tour smelling of roses, taking 21 wickets in total. The Nottingham paceman should be pretty handy in the day/night test and will enjoy having a bit more bounce to play with down under.
Australia’s batting line-up isn’t the strongest, Warner and Smith are superstars, and Khawaja will annoy the English bowlers at times. However, Broad won’t lose any sleep seeing Bancroft, Handscomb, Marsh and Tim Paine named in the first test squad. Unlike other Australian teams, it’s hard to see where any lower order runs will come from. If the Englishman doesn’t get carried away with the extra pace and bounce, he should have a field day against the lower order / tail.
A few will question this tip, I’m not going to do into much detail about this selection but looking at both bowling line-ups and both tails (especially Australia’s), then this is a bet.