England look to continue wining form

15 Dec 2010 by Vinay Anand in Ashes Series 2010-11

When the Australians march on to the ground, they have all to play for, as the Ashes would be out of reach if England pulled of another win against the old enemy. The English on the other hand wouldn’t want to lose the initiative and would look to continue their winning momentum. The English have already lost a match after winning a test early in the series, it happened in South Africa and in the last Ashes. However, after headingley they got out of jail due to a certain Andrew Flintoff. England must ensure that they continue in the same vain and play positive cricket right through.
There’s a lot more at stake than the Ashes, it’s perhaps Australia’s greatest ever batsman since Sir Donald Bradman, Ricky Ponting. While, the man, personally might not lose his place in the team but a loss at the WACA could sure mean a loss to his captaincy at test level. If Australia lose, Ponting would be the first ever captain to lose the Ashes thrice ever since the history of the urn began way back in 1882. Also, a loss could mean, England’s first Ashes victory on Australian soil since 1986/87. On a personal note too ponting does not have a hundred to his name in the last 8 test matches and has added a poultry 70 runs to his total in the current Ashes series. It is critical that Ponting returns to his menacing best if Australia have to have any chance of winning a test match not least regaining the Ashes.

At the moment, nothing seems to be going right for the hosts and each player must put in their best stride forward so as to lift the team. The Australian selectors have sprung up some surprises. The series is only 10 days old and both teams have been troubled by injuries. Stuart Broad, is already out of the Ashes with an abdominal strain while Australian opener Simon Katich misses out due to an achilees problem something that Kevin Pietersen suffered from. Chris Tremlett is the most likely replacement to Stuart Broad as his tall frame could help extract some extra bounce from a green WACA wicket. Australia on the other hand have called back young Philip Hughes into the squad who is set to replace Katich come Thursday. Xavier Doherty and Doug Bollinger are the others who have been axed for the third test due to poor performances in the Adelaide test. Johnson has been brought back while uncapped Michael Beer has been brought into the squad as replacement. Beer was a huge surprise selection as he has only played a handful of six first class matches. Another major exclusion has been that of Marcus North who has finally been dropped. Steven Smith should dawn the number 7 slot with Haddin moving up to take North’s position. Johnson’s return will bolster the batting a tad while Beer’s batting credentials don’t seem to stop the world.
However, the main concern with Australia is the toothless attack that they possess. Although Ryan Harris looks to be good but his knee would hold him back from bowling at full tilt and would they love a full firing Mitchell Johnson back. One good thing the seamer has going for him is his record at the ground. Johnson has taken 21 wickets in the three test matches he’s played here previously including the devastating spell of 8 for 61 couple of years back when he ripped through the backbone of the South African batting line up. Australia would want to go in with a specialist spinner which could mean beer could play with Siddle given the axe. However, what is to hear is that the wicket is a result oriented one and strauss could barely discriminate between the wicket and the outfield.
England’s top order has been the biggest worry for the Australian team. Australia have failed to get rid of the English top 4. Cook and Trott have been instrumental in denting the Australian bowlers. Cook who was considered to be the only weak link in the English batting line up has come out to be the biggest shining star. Kevin Pietersen on the other hand, seems to have regained his lost form.
When compared man to man, the English seem to be the better line up on paper. With the exception of Michael Hussey at 5 in comparison to Collingwood the English look far more supreme.
Australia really need to turn everything around and the stakes are huge this time round. What one can be sure of like every India- Pakistan battle, this one sure is to be an enthralling on to say the least.

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