Well as a traditionalist with not much enticing test cricket series coming up within the next year IMO other than AUS in PAK (yes i am discounting Aus in Ind cause i't won't be the same as before & SA vs AUS 08/09 since they always choke againts Australia or neutral series i.e Ind vs Pak) the next real cricketening spectacle is the 2009 Ashes is arond 15 months & it has the potential to match the exploits of 2005 IMO.
To look at England first well post 2005 Ashes if it weren't for the injuries to so many key players, if England could have built on that team a la how Taylor & Waugh did with Australia i'd put my head on block to say England would have been the best side in the world today.
But thats in the past now & well they are building back starting from now in NZ, Home vs SA, away to IND, WI before the Ashes rematch. England have to start from scratch & build back a winnings mentality within the unit as they did between BANG 2003 to SA 2004/05. Plus have to hope the shocking injury curse that is affecting English sports these days eases & so no more casualties occurs thus talismatic figures in Flintoff & Trescothick are back in 2009 & maybe Simon Jones although its obvious he won't be the same bowler of 2005.
If all goes well this would be England's best XI come 2009 IMO:
a solid keeper (i fear the selectors have missed a trick by not Pothas though)
Other players who will obviously be in the very close to selection are blokes like Sidebottom, Strauss, Shah, Key, Bopara, Tremlett, Broad, Anderson.
They were signs againts India if the conditions are very conductive to any form of swing bowlers as was the case in 05 & 07 vs IND & not flat decks with sunshine conditons of 06 once England could build back a fast bowling attack Australia could have problems.
Australia well are in Ponting era & have some interesting challenges coming up no doubt. Ponting has his first sub-continent challenges in PAK & IND of his era which i feel Australia will lose in India since no spinner in Australia has the ability to win test matches in Australia, even though in Lee, Tait, Bracken & (going for a wild card option here in Gillespie if he shows good form) Australia have some fast-bowlers that can bowl well in India conditions. But given that outside Clarke, Hayden & possibly a recalled Katich Australia batting in Indian conditions is very suspect.
Another overhyped SA series home away @ the end of the year awaits, although seeing how Steyn & Morkel go will be sights the fact that SA batting isn't aggressive good enough to put Australia under much pressure i see another one-sided contest unfortunately.
Other tours of WI & NZ inbetween these two highlighted contests shouldn't cause any real heaches for them, but Australia no doubt will want to keep there winning standards up although clearly losing such great players has dented their aura.
The best Australian XI come 2009 could be:
Looking at the side firstly i reckon given that i have no faith in the spin talent in Australia ATM, although that change if someone steps up i am hoping by 2009 that 4-man attack will be rolling.
Hayden being there is a question even though i believe he will still playing then in possibly his final series. He did say he is still enjoying it & he certainly looks as if he could play until he's 40 IMHO. But one will have to see what occurs.
If Hayden is not there in 2009 ATS i would be tempted to throw Hussey up the order even though its a risk i like what i see in back-up for middle-order spots with Hodge, a possibly rejuvented Katich these days & David Hussey than with the openers in Rogers, Divenuto & Hughes with the Ashes just over a year away.
Either way i can't wait for this series to get crackin..