Wednesday, 22 November 2006

Ashes To Ashes, Funk to Funky, We Know....

So here it is. Almost. I've avoided commenting on the ashes, which begins tonight, for the simple reason that as far as I'm concerned, it's still September 2005 and we've only just won the ashes back after 16 years. The thought that the long years of anguish may just be about to begin again is too much for me, so I've tried to pretend that the taste of glorious victory is still fizzing on my tongue, and that KP only yesterday scorched the Oval turf with his 158.

Alas, this is not the case. I am afraid that I think England are going to go down in this series and this is why:

1) It's Australia. It's extremely hot, humid, or not humid, or dry, or the wind is blowing off the antarctic. England players just don't have enough time to grasp the fact that not only is Australia different, it's massive and they will not just be heading up the road to Headingly, but going the equivalent of London-Warsaw, Paris-Edinburgh and so on when they go between tests. With such a punishing schedule, I just don't think they will have enough time to acclimatise.

2) It's Australia. The Aussies have not lost a series at home since 1992-3.

3) It's Australia. The Aussie media and sporting public do not like poms, with this curious habit of complaining about England's sledging, tactics, sporting behaviour, media, and fans (who are racist of course) while simultaneously going on about whinging poms. Fine, except that when there are 100000 of these buggers at the MCG it's like going to the Bernabeu for a win - for five days on the bounce. I'd be surprised if England weren't worn down by this, as they have been on previous tours.

4) Duncan Fletcher. Yes good coach. But from media shy he seems to have become a media whore, with quotes everyday about something or other. And his judgement is suspect in the extreme. Read, with a couple of 50s in his last two tests, gets dropped for a player who hasn't scored more than about 20 for at least 18 months AND makes regular dropped catches. Wait for him to drop Ponting on 2 in the first test, and see what happens.

5)Marcus Trescothick. The partnerships between him and Strauss were instrumental to the 05 Ashes success. Cook is a good player, but not the same kind. Without Tres there to blast a few fours at the start of an innings, it'll fall to Strauss, who'll get out, caught at point cutting McGrath, for 6.

6) The bowling. Where to start? Panesar is brilliant but can't bat. Giles is ok. Why not go with Panesar? Well, because he might not take enough wickets....well, alright then, how many is Giles going to take? It doesn't matter because he might get 20 runs or so. The negativity surrounding England's selections is slap back in the mid 90s - something I thought we'd lost for ever. It seems not. Harmison? Can't be doing with it. Anderson? Hmmmm. Mahmood? dunno, mate. Who is going to smash those Aussie helmets? Fred? "Three jobs" Flintoff? I wouldn't be surprised if he was crocked again after the first test. I guess it'll have to be Hoggie then.

7)The last hurrah. This will almost certainly be the last Ashes series for many of the Aussie grandads, and by golly they are going to make sure that it's a good one. They are so psyched up and ready; they won't be taken by surprise this time, they're in front of their children and grandchildren, who will all be psyching them up even more. There'll be none of the mateyness of 05 - it'll be back to the big bad Aussies sledging and fighting and scrapping their way to victory.

If I seem a bit pessimistic it's because I am. I'd love England to put up a fight, but I can't see it. If there's one thing worse than a whinging Aussie it's a gloating Aussie, and I think there's going to be plenty of them.

Play up, play up and play the game.


james higham said...

Great analysis but you know, the Aussies have had their setbacks too - both are going in with decidedly B teams or at least not on song. Also, over-confidence has cost the Aussies before.

The Tin Drummer said...

Well, I suppose you could make a case - at this stage - that McGrath might not be up to bowling 20+ overs a day, and who is the 4th bowler going to be, but I don't see too many other subs in the Aussie side. Hussey is a major + point for them as well.
Overconfidence I think cost the Aussies in 05 - I really think they expected to stroll it, especially after Lord's, and it took them until the Oval to realise they were really going to have to fight. But I think that won't be a problem here - they don't have the Ashes, remember, and as far as they're concerned, that is offensive and inappropriate; so they'll be well up for it.

And one other plus point for me at least. I won't be hearing the non-dulcet tones of Tony Greig on the tv this time.

james higham said...

Flintoff seems upbeat. Good about Greig of course.

The Tin Drummer said...

Did you ever listen to The Third Man CDs, by Billy Birmingham, Aussie comic? They are extremely funny and his impression of Greig is right on the button.

"He's hit that right off the me... the vegetable of the bat."