In under twelve hours one of the oldest and greatest rivalries in sport begins again. England v Australia will cross bat and ball in the Ashes. England are seeking to win a mind blowing four consecutive series. As an Englishman who grew up watching Messrs Warne and McGrath munch their way through the hapless England team like a hungry lion the reversal of fortunes between the two sides is something glorious to behold. Do I think England will win the series then? Yes but I predict it will be much much closer than last time. With this in mind I thought I would preview the key areas of the upcoming Ashes match.
Starting with my dear old thing Henry Blofeld. The Doyen of commentators with the most unique style of oratory that I have ever heard. Even if your are not a cricket fan I would highly recommend youtubing this picture postcard image of an Englishman whose father’s surname apparently inspired Ian Flemings Bond villan. Listening to his commentary never fails to put a smile on my face. His enthusiasm is infectious as he fills the listeners in on the local birdlife, the progress of the number 10 bus, the working habits of nearby cranes and Oh look he’s been bowled for a duck. Top quality entertainment that is not to be missed.
Watching sport late at night is a very strenuous activity it is important to stay well carbed up as if one was running a marathon. I’m a personal fan of the late night sandwich. The key decision then is whether to go for a beer or a strong cup of coffee. I say if there is brown sugar then plump for the coffee.
Preparation is vital remember there are no heroes where tiredness is concerned. Warm up for the night with a long afternoon nap so you can feel refreshed and awake come 3am.
If there is one area where England outclass Australia it is in the spin bowling department. Last summer England exploited this preparing a series of pitches designed to favour spin bowling. This worked magnificently with Swann taking more wickets than any other bowler out of both teams. The pitches in Austrailia are unlikely to be so turn friendly so the question what role will Swann play. He will not be expected to bowl out the Australian team but with all the left handers in the Australian batting order he’s a good bet to chip in with important partnership breaking wickets. Australia need to keep Swann quiet if they are to have a happy series.
But wait that’s two pictures are you just being lazy and not wanting to do a number six. No. Not at all. These pictures represent two sides of the same coin. On the left Australia’s pace attack and England’s top order. In the last series England’s top order underperformed. Whereas Australia’s pace attack stayed fit and were comfortably their biggest plus. The thought amongst pundits is that the same low slow turning pitches that so helped Swann worked against English batsmen such as Cook, Trott and Pieterson who enjoy pace on the ball. If this analysis has anything going for it (and I would tend to think so) then the conditions down under should be ideal to get back into form. Here’s hoping.
I’m off for my pre-match nap.