THE ASHES ARE BACK!
Australia go into this series overwhelming favourites after winning the last series convincingly by a 5-0 margin. However the English are demonstrating significant signs of improvement after a 1-1 test series and 3-2 ODI series against New Zealand.
Mix in the home ground advantage of the English against the confidence and form of the Australians, this Ashes series is set to be spectacular. In determining the outcome of this series, some of the boldest ever predictions are about to be made. Some may say they’re as bold as G. McGrath’s but I beg to differ.
In terms of the series score, personally I believe the urn will be RE-GAINED by the Aussies. However, the series should be no where near as comfortable as the last one with a 2-1 result being my prediction. With a strong, maturing batting line-up, the Australians should be able to post reasonable, defendable scores with Steve Smith leading the charge. Despite their strengths, the Aussies really require a big series from the likes of Shaun Marsh and Michael Clarke who have under-performed recently and are integral towards scoreboard pressure.
With the likes of Hazlewood, Johnson, Lyon, Starc and Wats….ah never mind. Anyway, with those four frontline bowlers, the Australians will be confident that any target is defendable, setting the side up for what should be a series win.
However, the Poms will be no easy beats. The emergence of Mark Wood, experience of Jimmy Anderson, Ian Bell and Alistair Cook, employment of Trevor Bayliss and match-winning characteristics of Ben Stokes should challenge the Aussies immensely and set this series up for a tight finish.
Other series predictions from a few of our writers included:
– Kevin, “I want the Poms to win 5-0, but that won’t happen. I say 2-1 to Australia.”
– Devon, “Eng 3-1. Not because I believe it, but because it’d look great if I was the only one to call it.”
– Mike, “Eng 2-1. I genuinely think Australia are the better side, but even without KP I still think England will win. Over five tests the home side normally wins, and with Wood we have the next great England bowler.”
-Imran, “Australia 2-1.”
-George, “3-1 or 3-2 Australia in a closely contested matches. We’re rebuilding really (we were rebuilding a year ago, but Boores Moores screwed it up), but should be a good series. If not for rain, there should be results each game, even if the wickets are flat or slow – both teams will be playing “a brand of cricket.”
Man of The Series:
My bold, McGrathesque prediction for MOTS is….. Aus win = Josh Hazlewood, Eng win = Ben Stokes.
I really expect Hazlewood to absolutely dominate the Ashes, the swing bowling conditions of England should suit his subtlety’s in line and length perfectly. With Harris now out Hazlewood will offer the control and pressure that Johnson and Starc lack at times. Steve Smith was also very close for this award however I wonder whether he’ll be able to sustain his performances over the five tests where the majority of runs will need to come from him considering the lack of stability and consistency that can be associated with Warner, Marsh, Watson and even Clarke in recent times.
If England win it’ll be down to one man and one man only… Ben Stokes. With such an attacking mindset Stokes should really hit his straps under the methods of Trevor Bayliss whose encouraged an aggressive brand of cricket to a traditionally conservative English side. With ball or bat in hand Stokes is always dangerous and could become a serious threat to the Australians chances of back to back series wins.
Leading Wicket Taker:
Australia – J. Hazlewood. As mentioned above, the conditions of England should really benefit him and if he can find his line and length early his consistency will do the rest.
England – M. Wood. Despite the modest average of 33.22 from his two tests, Mark Wood’s nine Test wickets suggest that he’s a definite threat to the Aussies after already promising a bouncer barrage at Australia’s favourite cricketer, Shane Watson. Whilst I’ve seen next to nothing of Wood personally, from what I read, there’s a definite excitement to what Wood brings to the table for England with the man he’s been compared to, Simon Jones, stating; “But Wood, for me, is the danger man, because he pitches it up and he gives it a chance to swing or nip, and he bowls at 90-plus.”
Australia – Steve Smith. In 2014, Smith scored 1913 runs at 59.90. This year he’s scored 816 runs at 57.72. Need I say more?
England – Joe Root. When in Australia, whilst some Aussies may not admit it, Root gained admirers across the country for responding differently to the barrage of sledging from Mitchell Johnson and co. Instead of retreating to the corner of the dressing room or just generally being scared witless, Root laughed off everything that came at him and took the challenge head on. This series should be no different considering over the 2014 and 15 seasons Root has scored 2,135 runs at 82.37. With that sort of form Root should be able let his actions do the talking and lead the English batting lineup with runs, runs and more runs.
Watto Award (Dud of the Series):
Australia – Shane Watson. He shall win the award named after him. Watson’s test form going into this series has been ineffective to say the least. Many are calling for Mitch Marsh to be selected over Watson and it’s not hard to see why with a batting average of 25.80 in 2014 and 33.25 in 2015 marking significant cause for concern over his future in the test team. Unfortunately for Watto I can’t see it getting any better for him. There’s no Graeme Swann for him to dispatch over cow-corner with the pressure squarely on him with the swing and pace of Broad, Anderson and Wood set to cause havoc upon Watson’s faulted technique.
England – Moeen Ali. If selected over the series I can’t see Ali posing as a significant threat to the Australian side. His performance against New Zealand was far from convincing scoring 106 runs at 26.00 and taking 5 wickets at 50.00. Over my time watching Ali and observing his statistics there’s been nothing inspiring in terms of his performances and if selected during the Ashes I can hardly see him inflicting any damage upon the Australian batting or bowling attack.
There you have it. The boldest of the bold. These predictions could be spot on, close to it or horribly wrong, it’s just a matter of a waiting game for what will be another excellent Ashes series!