Archive for December, 2010
With Stuart Broad out of the rest of this Ashes series, the question remains as to who will take over from the injured fast bowler. Whisperings are emerging that Tim Bresnan could be the man who edges the race, ahead of Chris Tremlett and Yorkshire team-mate Ajmal Shazad.
While cricket betting pundits note that Tremlett would have offered England extra bounce on the bowler friendly WACA pitch, Bresnan will be a more solid option in the line-up as well as offering similar batting talents to Broad. Bresnan will need to produce the same sort of economical figures as Broad, who went for barely two an over during the opening two Tests.
Bresnan is a typical Yorkshire player and is sure to leave everything he’s got on the pitch in Perth. The all-rounder isn’t afraid of getting mixed up in a little chest pumping if the situation calls for it and he won’t be overawed by the occasion at the WACA.
A victory here at the WACA and England will make sure they retain the Ashes, Bresnan won’t have too much time to find his feet if he is picked. The Aussie’s will be likely to burst out of the tracks in Perth and they will be sure to attack any weakness they can find in the England team.
The pitch in Perth will suit Bresnan’s pace and the Yorkshireman also has the ability to get some swing out of the ball, as well as bowling “a heavy ball”.
Bresnan impressed those studying the latest cricket odds on the tour of Bangladesh last winter but was unable to build on that impressive start. He’ll have the chance to prove to the management that he still has the ability to perform at this level.
England are on the verge of achieving something special down under in Australia, but they shouldn’t underestimate the wounded Aussies and the fearsome Waca pitch.
Last week’s innings victory over the hosts in Adelaide has raised hopes of a first series win down under since 1987 and they know victory at the Waca will ensure the urn remains in English hands. The apparent air of disarray emanating from the Australian camp has only fuelled those beliefs.
However, England need to rewrite the history books if they are to win on Australia’s west coast. They have only won once there in 11 visits and have lost the last five – including that crushing 204 run defeat in 2006.
They also have doubts over their bowling attack for the first time. Stuart Broad misses out with a stomach muscle injury so Chris Tremlett is expected to come in. Tremlett though hasn’t played a Test since 2007 and between him and other frontline bowler Steven Finn can only muster up 13 Test appearances between them and the Ashes betting tips suggest they could struggle.
That will put pressure on Jimmy Anderson to lead the attack, but his preparation has been disrupted by a mad dash home to be present for the birth of his second child.
With the rest of the squad’s wives and girlfriends landing in Perth it is hoped Andy Flower’s men haven’t taken their eye off the ball because despite Australia’s apparent weaknesses, they will be determined to bounce back at the Waca. The Ashes betting certainly indicates it will be a close game.
Australia will bolster their batting line-up with the addition of Phil Hughes and Steven Smith though the main focus will be on Michael Beer, who is set to become the tenth spinner called up since Shane Warne retired in 2007.
But with the Perth pitch notorious for being quick and bouncy Beer make take a support role, with Mitchell Johnson, the one remaining match-winner in the Aussie side, recalled.
Despite his woes against England he has a great record at the Waca – he has taken at least five wickets in all three of his Test including eight for 61 against South Africa in 2008-09.
Should England lose focus then Johnson could be the man to lead the wounded Australian side’s fight back.
With the Aussies in complete and utter disarray following their second Test humiliation on home soil, a confident England side that find themselves favourites for the series win on odds comparison sites has received a timely boost as they look ahead to the third Test in Perth, which gets underway next Thursday. The welcome boost comes in the form of the news that James Anderson will be making a return to the team in good time to compete in what could easily turn out to be a decisive few days in the context of the 2010 Ashes series as a whole.
Anderson had returned home to England after the culmination of the successful second Test in order to be with his wife, who has just given birth to a baby girl, the couple’s second child. Although Anderson’s departure from Australian soil wasn’t exactly met with resounding joy from team director Andy Flower, who revealed his belief that the decision from the bowler was not “ideal”, he’ll surely be keen to prove to all those who doubt his choice of putting family over the sport that the effects on his body of the round-trip to England and back to Australia won’t put his chances of making an impact in Perth at risk, something that may well impact upon England’s fixed odds for the Test.
Concerns over Anderson’s preparations for the third Ashes test became even more widespread in light of Stuart Broad’s unfortunate injury but whether or not the bowler’s choice ends up backfiring, England need to keep their focus and determination intact in order to ensure that a good start does not go to waste and they can travel back to a warm welcome on English soil complete with the famous little urn that English cricket fans so admire.
It would be the cricket story of year and Shane Warne has added fuel to the fire by refusing to rule out an international test comeback.
The possible return of Warne has been the subject of intense debate in Australia following their humiliating innings defeat against England at the Adelaide Oval on Tuesday.
Xavier Doherty’s brief Test career looks to be coming to a close and with a dearth of spinning options around, many have called for Warne to return to see if he can swing the Ashes betting in the home side’s favour.
Warne still turns out for IPL side Rajasthan Royals but that is only for a few weeks a year and he only ever bowls four overs a session.
He has previously admitted he is fit enough to play, but the match fitness require to last five days of Test cricket is definitely lacking.
But such was the manner of Australia’s defeat on Tuesday, their first home innings defeat since 1993, is the time right for Warne to return?
After all England are one of his favoured opposition and even after all this time he still holds a psychological hold over England after terrorising them for more than 15 years. Anyone who has bet on the Ashes will no doubt be intrigued by the prospect of him making a comeback.
It would also be a stark recognition of the current side’s failings and the lack of planning made by Cricket Australia in preparing for the mass retirement of their dominant team of the 90s and 00s.
But the Ashes is a honour they hold dear and if a Warne return can help them snatch them back into Australian hands, and give them time to prepare a proper replacement for the return series in 2013, then they may see it as a gamble worth taking.
Australian cricket is not in the best of shapes right now, of that there can be no doubt. However, whilst it is certainly not in a happy place, it is not in the middle of a crisis or a state of long term decline either.
Yes, soccer is gaining in popularity over in Australia and yes, Aussie Rules is always going to enjoy a massive fan base, but cricket is still very much alive and kicking in the country. Compare the huge audiences who are turning up to watch the Ashes tests compared to the size of the audience which regularly turns up to watch English first class test cricket and you can start to realise why the Aussies have been in the ascendancy for so long.
However, as long as the Australian side continues to struggle to recapture the kind of form that they achieved when they had the likes of Shane Warne and Glenn Mcgrath playing for them, the current team is going to continue to receive purely negative press comparisons.
Despite the fact that ashes betting pundits criticism is unduly harsh at present, the fact remains that the Aussie side is not doing anything to help its own cause as it allows itself to be rattled by a Kevin Pietersen-inspired England side that obviously has the bit between its teeth.
If, however, the Australians can get themselves together and secure a draw in the second test, they will know that they can take confidence from the fact that they have defied the the ashes odds and dug themselves out of a tough spot to keep themselves level in the series.
If they can then utilise this self-belief to help win back the momentum in the series before ultimately winning the Ashes, any talk of a crisis will surely be laughed off by the players and press alike.
It was a case of whatever you-can-do-we-can-do-better for England at the Adelaide Oval on Friday.
After watching their top order batsmen pile on the runs at the Gabba – ending day five 517-1 – the England bowlers were given their chance to shine after Ricky Ponting won the toss and sensibly elected to bat on a hard, flat surface under clear, blue sun drenched skies in South Australia.
Those following the Live scores regularly believe that this should have signalled a long, hard day for England in the field. Adelaide has reputation for being a batsmen’s paradise and the last test here between the two sides saw them both hit more than 500 in their first innings.
But England inflicted on Australia their worst start with the bat for 60 years to leave them spinning on first 0-2 and then 2-3.
Shane Watson, Mike Hussey and then Brad Haddin desperately tried to lead a recovery job but Graeme Swann made a welcome return to form to remove first Hussey and then Ryan Harris in successive deliveries to leave the flimsy Aussie tail exposed at 207-7.
That the Aussie innings was wrapped up with the expense of just 38 more runs says much about the new ruthless streak contained within Strauss’ men. The last few days of play at the Gabba and the opening day here reflects an England side determined to go for the jugular and not let the opposition out of a tight spot.
Caution is still needed – don’t forget England found themselves in the same position as Australia are after day one at the Gabba. If the hosts bowl well on day two to dismiss England cheaply it is game on again.
But with the pitch doing a little, but not a lot, those following the live cricket scores believe that the stage is set for England to really grab this game by the scruff of the neck and nudge ahead in an already thrilling Ashes race.
Out-of-form spinner Nathan Haurtiz has made a real case for a recall to Australia side with a five wicket haul for New South Wales in their Sheffield Shield match. The off-spinner made a return to form after a poor season both international and domestically, finishing with figures of 5-39 from his 27 overs against Western Australia.
Hauritz was somewhat unlucky to be dropped for the first test at the Gabba, after taking 63 wickets in his 17 Test career so far since taking over the spinning responsibilities from record wicket taker Shane Warne. His poor performances this year had led to question marks being placed next to his inclusion in the side but it was thought that Hauritz had done enough prior to his dip in form to earn his Ashes place, even if the Ashes odds suggested he would be one of the side’s top bowlers.
The off-spinner was left out of the Brisbane Test and failed to make the 13 man squad for this Adelaide Test. Hauritz is well aware of why he was dropped from the Test team and was relaxed when asked about a recall.
Hauritz told the Sydney Morning Herald: “I’ve said all along I got dropped because I wasn’t bowling as well as what they wanted. I have to go back and improve from there. (If) the call-up happens, it’s great, but if it doesn’t, it’s not going to be the end of the world.’
The pressure that Hauritz has had to handle as Warne’s predecessor has been an unfair burden on the 29-year-old’s international career. Warne was very vocal in his support of Hauritz’s inclusion in the side, claiming Hauritz had done enough in his career to earn his “crack at the Poms”. Anyone who has placed an Ashes bet on England will be smiling at the moment though.
Any chance Hauritz has of getting back in the Aussie’s Test side will probably require his replacement in the team Xavier Doherty to have a shocker during this second Test. The Tasmanian left-armer finished his debut Test at the Gabba with somewhat disappointing match figures of 2-148 and if he struggles again at Adelaide then there could be a big push for a Hauritz recall for the Perth Test on December 16th.