Ashes HQ ASHES HQ 2010-2011

The View From The Fence

I read a lot of predictions ahead of this series, from my beloved Australian chums, along the lines of ‘5-0 again’. I’ve got to admit that this confuses me. Again? Say what now?

In 2009, there was a lot of mickey-taking from bike-stealers because a lot of English coverage was focused on the previous Ashes series on these shores, the famed and esteemed battle of 2005 which England won emphatically and comfortably.

“It’s like 2006-07 never happened!” they would proclaim.

Well, maybe they had a point. But I’m a firm believer that the pot should never call the kettle black and get away with it. Therefore, it is only fair, in light of all their recent ramblings, that I remind my antipodean friends that the alleged 5-0 series was not the last time that Ashes was contested.

I think I need to remind my southern hemipshere counterparts just who holds the Ashes. But why use words when we can watch hapless Australians having their wickets taken?

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, can I confess to being excited beyond belief?! We are just a few weeks away from the Ashes. The Ashes! The only series in cricket that matters. Some people have noted that the teams in this series are ranked #4 and #5 – England ranked the higher of the two, of course. I don’t know or care who the teams in positions 1, 2 or 3 are but I do know that none of them have ever won the little urn that represents all that is good about this fine sport.

It has been a tough couple of days for the English heroes, but they’ll be okay. Broad and Swann hit around the Western Australian attack for a laugh, so at least the lesser Aussie bowlers can empathise with how the seniors have felt repeatedly in the past. Here’s a question for you, why are England’s number 8 and 9 batsmen better than Marcus North? Sorry, I digress. In all seriousness, the England top order did not have a good time out there so it’s a good thing that we have extra game time compared to 2006, as the batting line-up hasn’t really been firing all at once for quite some time.

Good news from the good guys’ point of view, though, was that Kevin Pietersen hit a 58. Sure, he was dropped en route to this score, but if anyone needed a few runs under his belt, it was him. With a bit of luck, he will be hitting peak form come Brisbane. He’s my early tip for man of the series. You heard it here first.

The England bowlers have struggled as well on the most part, but it’s not time to worry just yet. There is no doubt they will find the anti-cricket conditions that Australia serve up more difficult than the fair-play skies of England, but again, they have more time to acclimatise than in 2006, and the attack is settled. There is also plenty of talk that Brisbane may be a bit more seam-friendly than in years gone by. If this proves to be the case, look for James Anderson to average close to zero after the first Test. Australians like to mock the way he plays when the sun is out, alas stick a grey cloud in the sky and they hide behind their couches.

Back to this game, anyone interested in seeing some highlights from today’s play can do so here:

More highlights can be found on the ECB’s website and there will also be gems throughout the winter such as a video diary from everyone’s favourite offspinner, Graeme Swann. You can also follow them on youtube and before you ask, no I’m not on commission. I just want our loyal readers to get all the cricket coverage they can!

There is one day left in this warm-up game and then that’s one hurdle out the way. Eighteen days to go…

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