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Thread: Are Australia a better side now than 12-18 months ago?

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    Eternal Optimist / Cricket Web Staff Member GIMH's Avatar
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    Are Australia a better side now than 12-18 months ago?

    People have put Australia's Ashes defeat down to many things. personally, I put it down to the fact that the best team won, and that the Aussies were lucky it wasn't 3 or 4-1. Nonetheless, i am renowned for stupidity and another oft heard excuse is that Australia were simply below par - which I don't really consider an excuse to be honest, and I'm sure most Aussies will agree with me. If you're below par, you're not good enough, and it's no use using being rubbish as an excuse. Otherwise, by some twisted logic we could have claimed to be the best team in the world in 1999. Anyway, enough of me chatting nonsense. (No, I'm not hanging up my keyboard)

    A couple of weeks back, I had 3 or 4 very quiet days in work, and had exhausted the internet. I ended up coming across last year's Official Ashes thread. I actually got quite a long way into it before workloads picked up again, but nonetheless, everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY thought Australia would win. Most felt they would walk it. There was one guy, who I don't think has been seen since, who kept trumpeting on about how we would win 2-1, and was dismissed as stupid. (Spot the contradiction btw)

    To me, it seems that the same is happening this year. Our own are pessimistic, and the Aussies are already planning an open bus parade. Is this lessons not being learnt, or have things changed THAT much in the last 12 months?

    I know one thing that's changed is that we have been inconsistent. Bottled it at Multan, woeful in Lahore, good at Nagpur, heroic in Mumbai, boring and dreary twice at Lord's, dominant at Old Trafford and pathetic at Trent Bridge. That obviously contrasts with the build-up to the previous Ashes series where we swept all before us. This time, a win and a defeat to Pakistan counter one another, as to the results against India and Sri Lanka. It's fair to say that is difficult to see where we really stand at this point in time.

    On the other side, the Aussies have swept all before them since the Ashes, but let's be honest, the only time they were likely to have any difficulties was in South Africa, but they didn't. Instead, Bangladesh scared them, and no #1 side should ever need their #7 batsman to rescue them against Bangladesh. Nonetheless, the scheduling was stupid. and it's fair to say the Aussies were taken aback by what they were presented with against Bangladesh ; who can blame them, we were all surprised.

    My point? It's basically this. The last 12 months have taught us little about either side. Various new players have been blooded into each team, but for better or worse? Jason Gillespie and Mike Kasprowicz were both woeful last summer, yet both have played since, despite the initial hardline stance by the Aussie selectors, post-Ashes. Mike Hussey has come in, and no doubt seems to improve the batting. Is it an overall better package from the Aussies though? I have my doubts, and I think if anything befalls Warne or McGrath then their could be humble pie dished out dramatically.

    As for us, well the skipper has played just twice, Flintoff has been sidelined, Simon Jones has not played for England since Trent Bridge (except in a couple of warm-ups in India), Ashley Giles is a long-term casaulty etc etc. Yet are we really in a worse position than we were? Allastair Cook is far from the finished article, but has been full of runs - what else do you want from your batsmen in Test cricket? Strauss has returned to form. Collingwood has imrpoved his Test average by about 30+. Ian Bell looks far more confident, and can't stop making Test centuries. Chris Read has replaced Geraint and is scoring runs. We have a spin bowler who has taken wickets regularly throughout the summer.

    Sure, the injuries are a worry - but then again, Glenn McGrath doesn't have much Cricket in his legs, and hasn't put in a world-class performance since Lord's. Sure, we have issues with who will be the fourth seamer - if we pick one, as Anderson may not be fit, and Saj and Plunks don't cut the mustard in many eyes - but then again names like Stuart Clark don't exactly strike fear into the oppositions heart. And some might say that Brett Lee is vastly overrated in Test matches. And NOTHING will delight our batsmen more than seeing Jason Gillespie's name on the teamsheet.

    Don't get me wrong, Australia are favourites rightfully. But all this talk of England being embarassed and vastly inferior, it's crazy, crazy, crazy. We've not learnt very much about either side since last year. All the learning will be done this winter. We are 7-2. Worth a tenner if you ask me.
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    International Coach Barney Rubble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeraintIsMyHero
    There was one guy, who I don't think has been seen since, who kept trumpeting on about how we would win 2-1, and was dismissed as stupid. (Spot the contradiction btw)
    Oi. I called 2-1, and there's a thread somewhere that proves it.

    Ridiculous optimism's great.

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    Eternal Optimist / Cricket Web Staff Member GIMH's Avatar
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    I'll take your word for it. I think thye guy I'm thinking of was called BARMY_ARMY. He lived in Sydney.

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    Hall of Fame Member steds's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeraintIsMyHero
    but then again names like Stuart Clark don't exactly strike fear into the oppositions heart.
    Clark's a good bowler from what I've seen of him. Replace with Shaun Tait and I'll agree.


  5. #5
    International Coach Barney Rubble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeraintIsMyHero
    I'll take your word for it. I think thye guy I'm thinking of was called BARMY_ARMY. He lived in Sydney.
    http://forum.cricketweb.net/showthre...hes+prediction

    I got most of the rest of it wrong, but the important part of my prediction says England 2 Australia 1.

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    Hall of Fame Member steds's Avatar
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    http://forum.cricketweb.net/showpost...2&postcount=54
    Quote Originally Posted by aussie
    2-2 i'll put my life on it.....
    That's twice he's gambled his life away. Can't keep a dead man down though, apparently.

  7. #7
    Hall of Fame Member aussie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steds
    http://forum.cricketweb.net/showpost...2&postcount=54

    That's twice he's gambled his life away. Can't keep a dead man down though, apparently.
    so what..

  8. #8
    Hall of Fame Member steds's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aussie
    so what..
    Shouldn't make predictions, aussie mate. Makes you look stupid (or in my case, shows people how stupid I actually am) if you get it wrong.

  9. #9
    Hall of Fame Member aussie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeraintIsMyHero
    People have put Australia's Ashes defeat down to many things. personally, I put it down to the fact that the best team won, and that the Aussies were lucky it wasn't 3 or 4-1. Nonetheless, i am renowned for stupidity and another oft heard excuse is that Australia were simply below par - which I don't really consider an excuse to be honest, and I'm sure most Aussies will agree with me. If you're below par, you're not good enough, and it's no use using being rubbish as an excuse. Otherwise, by some twisted logic we could have claimed to be the best team in the world in 1999. Anyway, enough of me chatting nonsense. (No, I'm not hanging up my keyboard)

    A couple of weeks back, I had 3 or 4 very quiet days in work, and had exhausted the internet. I ended up coming across last year's Official Ashes thread. I actually got quite a long way into it before workloads picked up again, but nonetheless, everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY thought Australia would win. Most felt they would walk it. There was one guy, who I don't think has been seen since, who kept trumpeting on about how we would win 2-1, and was dismissed as stupid. (Spot the contradiction btw)

    To me, it seems that the same is happening this year. Our own are pessimistic, and the Aussies are already planning an open bus parade. Is this lessons not being learnt, or have things changed THAT much in the last 12 months?

    I know one thing that's changed is that we have been inconsistent. Bottled it at Multan, woeful in Lahore, good at Nagpur, heroic in Mumbai, boring and dreary twice at Lord's, dominant at Old Trafford and pathetic at Trent Bridge. That obviously contrasts with the build-up to the previous Ashes series where we swept all before us. This time, a win and a defeat to Pakistan counter one another, as to the results against India and Sri Lanka. It's fair to say that is difficult to see where we really stand at this point in time.

    On the other side, the Aussies have swept all before them since the Ashes, but let's be honest, the only time they were likely to have any difficulties was in South Africa, but they didn't. Instead, Bangladesh scared them, and no #1 side should ever need their #7 batsman to rescue them against Bangladesh. Nonetheless, the scheduling was stupid. and it's fair to say the Aussies were taken aback by what they were presented with against Bangladesh ; who can blame them, we were all surprised.

    My point? It's basically this. The last 12 months have taught us little about either side. Various new players have been blooded into each team, but for better or worse? Jason Gillespie and Mike Kasprowicz were both woeful last summer, yet both have played since, despite the initial hardline stance by the Aussie selectors, post-Ashes. Mike Hussey has come in, and no doubt seems to improve the batting. Is it an overall better package from the Aussies though? I have my doubts, and I think if anything befalls Warne or McGrath then their could be humble pie dished out dramatically.

    As for us, well the skipper has played just twice, Flintoff has been sidelined, Simon Jones has not played for England since Trent Bridge (except in a couple of warm-ups in India), Ashley Giles is a long-term casaulty etc etc. Yet are we really in a worse position than we were? Allastair Cook is far from the finished article, but has been full of runs - what else do you want from your batsmen in Test cricket? Strauss has returned to form. Collingwood has imrpoved his Test average by about 30+. Ian Bell looks far more confident, and can't stop making Test centuries. Chris Read has replaced Geraint and is scoring runs. We have a spin bowler who has taken wickets regularly throughout the summer.

    Sure, the injuries are a worry - but then again, Glenn McGrath doesn't have much Cricket in his legs, and hasn't put in a world-class performance since Lord's. Sure, we have issues with who will be the fourth seamer - if we pick one, as Anderson may not be fit, and Saj and Plunks don't cut the mustard in many eyes - but then again names like Stuart Clark don't exactly strike fear into the oppositions heart. And some might say that Brett Lee is vastly overrated in Test matches. And NOTHING will delight our batsmen more than seeing Jason Gillespie's name on the teamsheet.

    Don't get me wrong, Australia are favourites rightfully. But all this talk of England being embarassed and vastly inferior, it's crazy, crazy, crazy. We've not learnt very much about either side since last year. All the learning will be done this winter. We are 7-2. Worth a tenner if you ask me.
    Fair analysis can't really disagree much, but i would say as you mentioned here the build up to the ashes this time compared to this is different to the build up this time.

    Australia like in the 2004/05 summer were dominant coming into the ashes but i'd say they under-rated England's attack a lot & were outplayed in every department by England who were also playing excellent cricket & set out superb plans to counter australia.

    This time around England have been woefully inconsistent in test cricket other than in Mumbai & Old Trafford while Australia have definately improved in area's that were issues in the ashes i.e

    - back-up bowling behind Warne with Brett Lee clearly better than he was last summer & Clark's emergence & i'll go out & say McGrath back & will be back at his best since when McGrath was out of cricket for a year between 2003/2004 he came back with a bang when he wasn't bowling well. This time he came out bowling fairly well all he needs IMO is a few games & he'll be back to his best.

    - ability to counter top quality seam bowling in tough conditions, South Africa's pace attack may not have been better the England's seamers overall, but they were a handful in some tough conditions & the fact that Australia countered them very well shows some improvement. If they didn't people would have surely said Australia's batting is still suspect to top quality fast bowling.

    Australia's unanswered questions is the form of the middle-order & Gilchrist.

    England like in 2005 where reverse swing was the key element that beat Australia will have to find something else to beat Australia at home, because i believe if England are going to retain it there bowlers are going to be key, i honestly can't see England batsmen doing it againts a fully fit first choice Australian attack.

  10. #10
    Hall of Fame Member FaaipDeOiad's Avatar
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    It doesn't really make much sense to compare the last Ashes buildup to this one as if they are equal, IMO. I get your point about people dismissing England's chances last time, but before the last Ashes England didn't draw a home series with Sri Lanka, weren't decimated by injuries and so on. And I think it's fair to say the preperations for both sides were a bit different as well.

    Also, I do think that Australia are a better side now than they were in the last Ashes series. The inclusion of Michael Hussey in the lineup is obviously an improvement, Hayden is back in touch, Lee is coming off a wonderful summer in which he came of age as a bowler instead of a summer in which he wasn't in the test side, and so on. It's much more likely that both MacGill and Warne will play at the expense of the likes of Kasprowicz and Gillespie, also. Similarly, England aren't really as dangerous now as they were then. The key to England's victory last Ashes (ignoring the areas in which Australia stuffed up for the moment) was reverse swing, and particularly the bowling of Jones and Flintoff. Given that Jones is unlikely to play and reverse swing is unlikely to be such a factor anyway, it's hard to see where England are going to find that sort of edge.

    I can certainly see it being a competitive series if England play to the best of their abilities, but I'd be stunned if England managed to retain the Ashes. And really, I can also see a rout being a real possibility. My tip is 3-1.
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  11. #11
    Eyes not spreadsheets marc71178's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FaaipDeOiad
    Hayden is back in touch
    Wasn't he in touch before the last series as well though?
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  12. #12
    International Vice-Captain Dasa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marc71178
    Wasn't he in touch before the last series as well though?
    Nope. He had gone 12 Tests and about half a year without any tons, and averaging in the 30s.

  13. #13
    Cricket Web Staff Member Burgey's Avatar
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    I do not know if Australia are a better side than 18 months ago. They are definitely an older side than they were then. The return to form of Hayden is crucial and if he continues his more circumspect approach he will probably score heavily. Hussey's inclusion is a real plus for Australia, as is Lee's improvement.
    I have heard some English supporters commenting on how wayward Lee was last time and that he's not a threat. Well, until last Northern Summer one could have said the same thing about Flintoff ans Simon Jones who really came of age that series but had hardly set the world on fire before then, despite long standing potential.
    Do not undersell Stuart Clark. He bowls good lines and lengths and gets bounce, which makes him awkward. The South African order which he demoralised earlier this year contained a number of quality players who did not handle his bowling well at all - and that on pitches which closely resemble those in Australia.
    Australia's area of concern is still the middle order. They must score runs between 4 and 7 to consistently put pressure on England, rather than scoring between 4 and 7 runs each, like they did in England last year.
    Obviously, a question which is just as important is whether England are a better side than they were 18 months ago? At this stage I would have to say no. Trescothick's dismissal by Akthar yesterday in the one-dayer (aside form being hilarious after hearing the commentators yapping up the England top-order) demonstrated real problems in his game at the moment - playing too square, falling across the ball and not being balanced. Good rock 1st up though.
    Strauss is solid but the extra bounce out here is a factor he will have to adjust to. Cook is unknown but seems stiff-legged, something not lost on SK Warne I'm sure. The loss of Vaughan will be keenly felt. He's had lean times but his last series here was the best by a visiting batsman in Australia in years.
    Bell has impressed this Northern summer, but largely against a Pakistan attack that lacked its top 3 pace bowlers. Still question marks there. Collingwood is not the long term answer either.
    Pietersen will be the great entertainer - has awesome potential.
    Flintoff - the name says it all. He's quality.
    Chris Read a good gloveman (apologies to the author of the thread), but there are large question marks over his batting.
    Panesar is better than Giles, no doubt. Mahmood looks pretty good but is not as seasoned as S Jones, but whether the latter would have had the same impact in Australia is open to question in any event. If the ball doesn't swing, poor Matthew Hoggard will be belted into submission by test 3, which is unfortunate as he is a pretty good bowler.
    The form of Harmison will also be crucial because of the bounce which he gets. His clashes with Ponting will be worth the price of an illegally-scalped-on-ebay ticket alone. If he goes missing England will struggle, imo, to take 20 wickets consistently.
    Anyway, for what it's worth, I think Australia will win, but England are no mugs. Should be a tight sreies, but a word of caution. Unfortunately none of us can expect it to be as good as it was last year. Salivating at the thought of it all kicking off. To all of you visiting from the Old Dart, hope you have a good time here.
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  14. #14
    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend andyc's Avatar
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    Wow. Best sixth post ever?

    Pretty much agree with you on everything though.
    Quote Originally Posted by flibbertyjibber View Post
    Only a bunch of convicts having been beaten 3-0 and gone 9 tests without a win and won just 1 in 11 against England could go into the home series saying they will win. England will win in Australia again this winter as they are a better side which they have shown this summer. 3-0 doesn't lie girls.

  15. #15
    Hall of Fame Member FaaipDeOiad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marc71178
    Wasn't he in touch before the last series as well though?
    Not even close.

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