Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Start time 11.00am (10.00 GMT)
The Big Picture
England’s turn to host the Ashes always results in an extended build-up and after 31 months the talk stops on Wednesday and a pair of teams with many fresh faces continue a 122-year rivalry. Both sides have changed line-ups considerably since the past two series and the chest injury to Brett Lee, who is out of the Cardiff and Lord’s games, takes further experience away from Australia while increasing the comfort of the local batsmen.
The home side has a new Ashes captain in Andrew Strauss and two match-winners in Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff. All three have beaten Australia and lost heavily to them. In the baggy green corner sits Ricky Ponting, a leader on his fourth tour of England, and he is in charge of an outfit that can no longer rely on Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist et al. After losing to India and South Africa, they crossed the Indian Ocean and beat the Proteas to retain the game’s top spot earlier this year, but doubt remains over their status.
On the rankings page this is a battle between No. 1 and No. 5, but for Australia and England it is much more than that. The history of the competition is so detailed that the players will be told to break it down to a simple, clutter-free contest. It will be impossible for the Ashes debutants and how they cope with the initial stages could determine the result of the first Test.
Instead of Lord’s or Edgbaston or Old Trafford staging the opening game, the players have stepped into Wales for the series welcome in Cardiff. It is the city’s first Test match and there are still rumblings that it has been given a chapter of Ashes history. Australian supporters have tried to move on from the gripping 2005 defeat and England fans seem to have slept through the 2006-07 whitewash. Both sides want this version to be unforgettable.
(last five matches, most recent first)
England - WWDDD
Australia - LWWWL
Watch out for …
Kevin Pietersen is the player Australia feared most when they had Warne and McGrath, a world-beating pair which could not stop him from taking 963 runs at 53.50 in the two previous series. An Achilles injury threatens to be Pietersen’s Achilles and he has only started running in the past week. A hobbling Pietersen could derail England’s hopes, but his swagger is the most pronounced during the biggest contests and he will do anything to make it through to The Oval.
In South Africa Mitchell Johnson turned from a sometimes meek and wayward operator into the most frightening bowler in the game. He forced Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis to retire hurt while taking two wickets in the same opening spell in Durban, his potent short deliveries backed up by a new-found ability to swing the ball in as well as moving it away. Throw in his silky yet powerful batting and his performances could determine the series.
All of England’s players are fit so they have to trim two men from their squad. Ian Bell has returned to play for Warwickshire so the final choice will be between Monty Panesar and Graham Onions. Panesar had a much longer workout in the nets than Onions on Tuesday.
England (possible) 1 Andrew Strauss (capt), 2 Alastair Cook, 3 Ravi Bopara, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Paul Collingwood, 6 Matt Prior (wk), 7 Andrew Flintoff, 8 Stuart Broad, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 James Anderson, 11 Graham Onions.
Lee’s stomach injury has seriously disrupted Australia’s plans and leaves a delicate choice for the tourists. Picking Nathan Hauritz alongside Johnson, Siddle and Clark is the most orthodox option, even though the offspinner has found county batsmen a challenge in the two warm-ups. Ben Hilfenhaus and Andrew McDonald will also have their cases pushed and all the combinations carry an element of risk.
Australia (possible) 1 Simon Katich, 2 Phillip Hughes, 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Michael Hussey, 5 Michael Clarke, 6 Marcus North, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Nathan Hauritz, 10 Stuart Clark, 11 Peter Siddle.
Pitch and conditions
Ponting expects the pitch to have some moisture at the start, providing “slow-ish seam and trampoline” bounce, but he believes it will turn. The pitch spent most of Monday morning under the covers and when it was revealed in the afternoon there was not much green on the strip. Less colour was on show on Tuesday.
Andrew Strauss said it looked like a good pitch, but one that would not offer much pace or bounce. “There will be a little bit in it for everyone,” he said, “and that’s the sort of wicket we were hoping to see.” The weather has been unpredictable, with rain and sun fighting for attention, and more wet conditions are predicted for the end of the week.
Stats and trivia
* In 300 Ashes Tests England have won 95; Australia have been successful in 121
* It is 1410 days since England won their last Ashes Test, at Trent Bridge in 2005
* None of Australia’s fast bowlers have played a Test in England
* Allan Border was the last Australian captain to lose two Ashes series when his sides were beaten in 1985 and 1986-87
* Australia must win the contest to keep the No. 1 Test rating
“We know the type of cricket we need to play to win this series and we’ve got good ideas as to the type Australia are going to play too. We have to keep nice and calm and controlled.”
“Their side reads pretty good and I think if you matched both sides up on paper it would be pretty hard to pick the winner.”
en: RT @Peanut009 @Singledoutjdan I can respect that (not like I can change your mind with 10bux ad a snickers..or can I?)<~~~~no, you cant. 07/10/09 12:48am
en: Or her chat is already over ): Lol. I miss Katie</33 07/10/09 12:48am
en: writing a new blog. Probably post Saturday or Sunday. 07/10/09 12:48am
en: @devincoffin Call or text me for directions! 07/10/09 12:48am
en: RT @tonyrobbins: Or in more simple modern terms: "Screw it, Let's do it!" Richard Branson ;-) LOL 2 great leaders... 07/10/09 12:48am
en: @TheChristinaKim STUFF the politics and let's instead stuff little white (or pink I s'pose) balls into cups! Come ON Christina, kick ASS! ! 07/10/09 12:48am
en: Check or respect it!! Pussy!! 07/10/09 12:48am
no: @dustypeterson Food or Singer? 07/10/09 12:48am
en: @GracieAlbernaz well, I mean calling into Suzie was just dumb...you know if you can afford it or not... 07/10/09 12:48am
en: @chrismiguel tut was eh. He wasn't even there. Try to get free or discount tix. If u go , definitely get the audio tour . No photos allowed 07/10/09 12:48am
en: @machallboyd are you dreaming, or did that actually happen? 07/10/09 12:48am
en: @sanjastarz aww sorry! Don't know who is who, I didn't really listen 2 them or any1 4 a long time it seems! Surgery Life!! Haha Miss u! 07/10/09 12:48am
en: @shepwns there's no way to make up for ianto. he better come back, or the show is ridiculous stupid now. 07/10/09 12:48am
en: powerful statement @SlimBurkett #UGETSNOHOLLA If You Resemble Anyone From The Maury Or Steve Wilkos Show... 07/10/09 12:48am
en: hopes mom brings home john and yoko for lunch plsplsplsplspls or cibe http://plurk.com/p/187xk2 07/10/09 12:48am
en: @MYIDOLTOWN Were you able to do anything to fix it or is it just a problem with Twitter? #sohpiasheart 07/10/09 12:48am
en: @DisneyLuis Gold or silver? Lines looked insane, we used Flash Passes in Atlanta 6 flags last month they rock! 07/10/09 12:48am
en: or i guess i should say my outfit /right now/, as for most of today i was just in my pyjamas. -shrugs- 07/10/09 12:48am
en: @Beccadg22 yo! you went M.I.A. or what get your twitter game on. 07/10/09 12:48am
en: @franchize1 better be somewhere around here... or that will mean the kids were lending them out and never got them back!!!! We'll see. 07/10/09 12:48am
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Tuesday, July 7th, 2009 and is filed under Cricket, General.
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