Why My Country Will Win The AshesMartyn Corrin |
A Joint Feature between Martyn Corrin and Cameron Burge
In the long stretch of time between the Ashes in Australia and England, cricket-loving poms and Aussies can forge friendships based off a common passion for the greatest game of them all. However, when it comes to the crunch, this is the grandest rivalry in professional sport, and the time for pleasantries has passed. Raving patriots Martyn Corrin (England) and Cameron Burge (Australia) put their heads together to discuss why their teams would win the Ashes. Here are the results.
Why England Will Win
Martyn: James Anderson is in the form of his life. He comes into the Ashes with many people still claiming that he is overrated and inconsistent, but all of the evidence from the last eighteen months suggests that he has finally arrived as a world-class bowler. He was highly impressive in dreadful conditions in the Caribbean, swinging and reversing the ball both ways. In the past Anderson would bowl some devastating balls, and plenty of gifts. Now the gifts are replaced with a stock ball that is difficult to score from, and all of a sudden England have a bowler to fear. He bowls well to left-handers, this attribute of Flintoff’s was key to England’s last Ashes victory and could be crucial again. If Anderson delivers, England will bring home the urn, Australia won’t be able to handle him.
Cameron: James Anderson knocked the West Indies over. Whoopee!!! Gayle’s men came to England looking as dull and gloomy as the English weather, and played accordingly. There’s no doubt he’s improved, but Australia’s line up bats deep and will punish any loose offering. Moreover, if someone forgets the hair products and the Murray Mints, the distraction to Anderson will be impossible for England to overcome.
Martyn: Many England fans cannot remember going into a Test match against Australia with spin being one of our strengths. Yet all of a sudden England have a clear edge over the Aussies in this department. Graeme Swann has been a revelation in the England side, while Australia are seemingly torn between playing Hauritz, who really doesn’t appear to cut the mustard, or no spinner at all. There is talk of the pitch at Cardiff turning square which may or may not be true, but the simple fact is that in a five Test series spin is bound to come into play at some point. England’s strength in this area will be key, especially when you throw in the struggles that Australian batsmen have had against spin in recent times (although that has been more evident in limited-overs cricket, to be fair). There is nothing wrong with the theory of picking your best bowlers and not worrying about having a spinner, but Australia may have to rely on Michael Clarke and Marcus North at the business end of games. Graeme Swann could well be the man who wins England the Ashes back.
Cameron: Aside from on the subcontinent, the last finger spinners to confound an Australian XI were Jim Laker and Derek Underwood, both on made-to-measure surfaces, and the last time it happened was 1972. Ricky Ponting has played Murali as well as anyone over the past decade. He and the boys won’t be intimidated by Swann or any other finger spinner.
What’s more, Katich, Hughes and Haddin each ply their trade in Sydney, the most spin-friendly deck in Australia. By the time this series is over, Swann will be more ugly duckling than beautiful water-bird.
Martyn:: The conditions are going to be English, seeing as the series is being played in England (well, England and Wales). The Australia side’s experience in England, at the top-level especially, is very limited, with only Ponting, Clarke, Lee and Katich surviving from 2005. Katich and Lee’s records over here don’t cover themselves in glory, and as such it will be a big test for the rest of the squad to deliver. England have developed an effective seam-attack, and the English batsmen are all generally more effective at home than away. A big question mark hangs over Australia as to how they will perform in these conditions, whereas England should thrive.
Cameron: The home-ground advantage stands as perhaps the greatest myth hanging over this series – even greater than Anderson, Prior and Cook. Katich is in the form of his life, young Hughes excelled in his short county stint and the balance of the batsmen have all scored a poultice of runs in the Old Dart. From the bowling point of view, Johnson just towelled up South Africa in South Africa; Stuey Clark is tailor-made for English conditions and Peter Siddle’s method of seam movement from a good length at high pace is a throw-back to Merv Hughes circa. 1993. Lee being injured is obviously disappointing given his form in the lead-up, but that only opens the door for the potential involvement of Hilfenhaus, who swings the ball at good pace and won’t let anybody down. It should also be noted that England’s batsmen have converted their supposed home ground advantage to good effect against Australia precisely once in the past 20 years.
Why Australia Will Win
Cameron: Batting depth. Australia has Haddin at seven and Johnson at eight. If Lee plays at some point he will be at nine. If not, either Hauritz or McDonald are chances to play. It’s most unlikely England will consistently dismiss the Australian lower order with ease. Every
batsman in the team has scored runs in at least one of the warm-up matches. They are in form and still capable of scoring at a fast enough clip to give the bowlers time to dismiss England twice.
Martyn: Australia can talk of batting depth, but a quick glance at the England line-up tells you that if Australia think they have the deepest line-up in this series they are wrong. Flintoff-Broad-Swann make up the 7-8-9 positions; Graeme Swann has four first-class centuries to his name. What’s more, from a bowling point of view, Stuart Broad has shown himself to be very effective at wrapping up the tail quickly, and the Aussie line-up is packed full of lefties, Anderson and Swann get them out for fun. Depth won’t count for too much when the top order are getting out in no time.
Cameron: Mitchell Johnson and Troy Cooley. These days, Johnson isn’t just fast and furious, he’s dangerous. Ask Graeme Smith. Big Mitch bowls as fast at 5.30 pm as he does at 10 a.m., and now gives the batsmen no peace. He’s also developed an inswinger to the right hander which, combined with the left-armer’s angle, makes him one of the more potent forces in world cricket at the moment. Then he comes out and makes runs as well. For his part, England acknowledges the important role Cooley played in 2005 in their success. Now, he’s coaching the Australian bowlers in the same conditions where he mentored the English. For the home side, he’s trouble with a capital T.
Martyn: Andrew Flintoff was terrifying batsmen back when nobody had heard of Mitchell Johnson, and you know he will keep running in all day long, and a bit extra after that. Anderson and Broad will also provide express pace, and Onions has been taking wickets in his sleep this year. Johnson is a great bowler, no doubt, but I would take England’s attack overall, every single time. And as for Troy Cooley: for all the good work he did, he had one big stain on his record that has slowly been addressing the failures of Cooley’s work. Once again, I give you James Anderson, who has steadily improved ever since Cooley went back home.
Cameron: Fielding. Australia aren’t quite as brilliant in the field as they once were, but they still shade England in this important area. If the pitches are flat and chances are at a premium, it is more likely than not Australia will snaffle their opportunities. In the unlikely England get close to us, that difference will be telling.
Martyn: England will have the best slip-catcher in the world, Andrew Flintoff. Australia are without Symonds but we will have Collingwood, who will catch things that have no right to be caught. If your batsmen make any dodgy runs, James Anderson’s golden arm will take down the stumps. And in the close catcher positions Alastair Cook has come on leaps and bounds. Underestimate us here at your peril.
Martyn: It has been enjoyable to watch Australia’s supporters casually underestimate English players like Anderson and Broad in recent months, we can only hope that Ricky Ponting and co do the same. Australia have been inconsistent lately; a victory in South Africa is not to be sniffed at but they aren’t the force they once were, and England are coming together as a team at just the right time. We go into the series with a much more settled attack and little controversy over selection. Don’t be at all surprised to see Strauss clutching the urn at the end of August; Trafalgar Square beckons.
Cameron: It’s always gratifying to see England supporters with hope in their hearts as an Ashes series approaches, and there are few nicer blokes around than Martyn. Unfortunately though, for the most part the hope lasts about two sessions until the harsh reality kicks in. Notwithstanding the injury to Lee and the question marks over Hauritz at test level, Australia has the quality to win this series. And win it well.