Tag Archives: alastair cook

Investment in Moeen shows way forward for top-order conundrum

The trust and persistence placed in Moeen Ali is how England should approach their top-order conundrum.

After a decade of success, English cricket demands instantaneous results, but this approach has cut off the side’s nose to spite their face.

Selection policy has become impatient and short sighted when it comes to the top order.

Alastair Cook has gone through 11 opening partners since the retirement of Andrew Strauss in 2012, now compounded by more gaps at numbers three and five.

Yet in the midst of chaos, Moeen Ali has emerged as a reliable and increasingly threatening allrounder.

But, it’s easy to reflect on his 25 wickets and over 252 runs against South Africa with rose tinted glasses.

It hasn’t always been plain sailing. Moeen Ali has batted in every position from one to nine, only scored one century in his first 20 Tests, and was averaging more than 50 in 2016.

England stuck with him, because they believed in him. They wanted Moeen because of the potential he offered. Perhaps the biggest seal of approval, was the bringing in Saqlain Mushtaq to assist him. Moeen has now said he wants him there permanently.

Ali has been an investment for England. His form has been changeable, but the concept is right.

The question, is why have England openers not been invested in? They have been tried and trashed. Quickly.

It ultimately lies in trust.

England have picked openers because of county form, with the hope they’d continue that. But they couldn’t, or at least not instantaneously.

But, It takes time to adapt. Keaton Jennings, like Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook scored a century on debut, and now he looks frail. But, no more frail than how Moeen himself looked in the first two years of his career – when he showed inconsistency.

They kept him and trusted him to recover. The investment was seen as worthwhile.

Jennings, and the hoard of other openers, haven’t been trusted to be able to adapt.

Within five or six Tests of his debut hundred, there are calls to drop Jennings and replace him with with yet another cab-off-the-rank from county cricket, with no-doubt, an impressive domestic record.

Why pick them in the first place if they aren’t going to be trusted?

England set a precedent in May 2013 when they dropped Nick Compton for the first time, and they’ve been doubling down ever since. They’ve been too afraid to change course.

Nick Compton had success opening for England. He scored two centuries in New Zealand, and had a good partnership with Alastair Cook. He was experienced, and in form. He needed to work on his game, but who doesn’t?

Dropping him set the ball rolling for England’s opening policy.

Openers are disposable, not investments.

Until a new Andrew Strauss comes along, domestic performers can be used once and thrown away.

This is a ruinous policy. England need an opener. They need one that will work in the long run. They may struggle at first, but Moeen Ali’s progress shows what can be done with hard work.

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Three Things That Peter Moores Has Got Absolutely Right

Whilst wading the through long grasses of mockery around the #newera, it’s important not to allow the successful parts to pass over our heads un-noticed.

In his short stint as England Coach [part II], Peter Moores has made a concerted effort to stamp his method of coaching on this team.

But notwithstanding factors like the shadow of the bygone era, and in spite of the criticism which has flowed like a mighty stream since his appointment; he has done plenty of things which have worked.

Being consistent in decision making and selection

The  most important thing that Moores’ has done right is maintain consistency with decisions and selection; and not buckling under criticism.

When building a team, under the banner of a #newera; critics look for the slightest hint of disharmony. They even look for any tell tale sign that the team isn’t working.

Chopping and changing, inconsistency and U-turns shows that decisions were wrong in the first place, and the management is weak and not in control. Yet, not changing course when something is clearly wrong shows stubbornness.

He hasn’t flinched at all, backing his decisions and gaining a return in quick time, which shows he made the right calls so far on many decisions.

At Lord’s, England were thrashed.

But, only a minor change due to injury [Plunkett] and a second change due to poor performance occurred [Stokes]. In the third Test the faith, repaid. A captain under fire felt backed; scored runs, and captained well. A near complete team performance ensued, as England drew the series with two to play.

The #newera is only going to work if an identity and a style of play is built, and from what has been displayed thus far; this is what Moores is creating. A new brand of cricket, which backs players and gives them a fair chance, on his watch.

Backing Counties

It is no surprise to anyone that follows county cricket, that a long time county coach is picking reliable county stars, and has faith in them.

Flower never really coached county cricket. He went on gut, and sometimes that worked.

More often than not however, it was mature and established players that did it for him, with the exception of Graeme Swann and Jonathan Trott; who were his selections through and through. The core of the team was not drawn from recent County success though. Moores has literally built this team up, and given it an identity. 

This summer has seen the selection of a number five and a number three to bat in the opposite positions, in addition a 29 year old bowler that was on the scrap heap, an Australian opener, a fiery fast man from Barbados, and Steven Finn.

Gary Ballance has been a revelation; translating his county form to the Test arena, striking three centuries and two fifties in 10 innings this summer. Liam Plunkett’s recall, is something I promoted when he was performing very strongly in County Cricket, here. His return to the Test side has been successful, offering pace, and heralding 18 wickets in his four Tests, and a fifty.

Even when Moeen Ali, Sam Robson and Chris Jordan have struggled, he has backed them fully, with no hints of them being dropped or replaced.

Moores has sent a large flare up into the air to signal that England’s selectors is watching you; County Performers.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. Fight hard, and you’ll get through, because this #newera recognises you.

Learning from mistakes

After the Lord’s catastrophe, England could have reacted violently, and scrapped the course they were on.

Cook’s head was in the chopping block. The excessive hooking was under scrutiny, and the perpetual short pitched bowling which yielding such little success was under the spotlight too.

Even England’s fielding was a low point, as catches went down and defensive  unimaginative captaincy dominated.

But there were no panic stations or flashing lights. As England turned up to the third, and now fourth Test; it’s clear that something has clicked into place.

They are pitching it up. Taking their catches. Cook’s captaincy is not as reactive, with much greater trust invested in Moeen Ali’s spin bowling, to the extent that Moeen took a 6 wicket hall at the Ageas Bowl.

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There has been a strong desire to justify decisions made, by ironing out faults and dealing with issues; as opposed to scrapping plans and trying something new; pushing those failures under the carpet

It’s refreshing, and Moores deserves credit for not dragging England back through the 1990s style selection and despair.

It has been; and will be, difficult; but there are plans there, and there is a definite direction that these plans are being plotted.

As an England fan, it’s nice to finally be stable again.

The Strength of Flower and Fletcher discouraged a Generation of Leaders

As critics of Alastair Cook’s captaincy circle like vultures, the unfortunate reality is that there are very few immediate options that could replace him, and this is a direct result of a generation of authoritarian management.

Nobody can doubt that in the last decade, England have had unprecedented success, mixed in with hints of disaster to keep them honest.

In reality; we talk about a new era today, but the new era began when Duncan Fletcher united with Nasser Hussain, and later, Michael Vaughan. England were rock bottom, and they formulated a new plan to bring them to the ascendency.

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This plan was heavily focused on senior players. Tall fast bowlers that were aggressive. Dynamic and athletic fielding, and most importantly, ‘professionalism’ and image. Duncan Fletcher’s reign as coach saw England reach dizzy heights, and once more become the talk of the nation.

But unfortunately, when you rise up high, the fall is just that little bit more turbulent.

The new era became dominated by media interviews and toeing the team line, building a team identity of united-ness and ending the endless factionalism that had prevented England from being a dominant side for so long.

Training was no longer optional. Players that were ill disciplined were dealt with. Selection was made on both fitness and talent, as well as attitude and ‘hunches’ of Fletcher. Image and style was as important as ability and natural talent.

Perhaps it was a little vain, but as England roared against South Africa and beat the Australians for the first time in a very long time, in 2005, it seemed to be working. Something seemed to be working.

This approach left very little for the individual.

It was insular, with Fletcher, the captain, and a small in circle of senior players making the big decisions, and all those smaller players; over there, practicing, and not being involved actively in the team.

Some players had more lives than others.

Some players were more equal than others.

In the longer term, it laid the seeds of its own destruction; because as time went on, players moved on, and those not in that senior circle were left behind. There was a residue of formerly secondary players in the shadow of a great legacy. Fletcher’s steam ran out at this point, and the baton passed; first to Peter Moores, and then to Andy Flower in 2009.

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Andy Flower built upon this notion of senior players, and aggression and dynamism, and in built some new features.

He conditioned this highly skilled unit built up by Fletcher with a ruthless efficiency, dominated by statistics and data.

The back room staff at some points outnumbered even the players, in a horribly stifling, dehumanising environment. Players were no longer humans. They were machines that produced results.

There is a distinct lack of individualism in a team that boats a greater number of staff telling players what to do, than players actually acting themselves. The old saying ‘too many cook’s spoil the broth’ albeit a cliché, comes into great usage here.

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England in red – the back room staff in blue.

This is was cricket by numbers, and although success came thick and fast for some time; when it fell away, it was horribly disenfranchising.

Flower won the Ashes three times, including an emphatic away series in Australia. Under his guidance, England whitewashed India at home, and won in India. They won the T20 world cup, and topped all three format rankings at various points.

But, like with Fletcher, good things do not always last. What we have just witnessed in 2013/14 during these ashes is a combination of failures from Fletcher’s and Flower’s legacies.

The Fletcher legacy collapsed when the inner circle was hollowed out, as senior players lost their form and eventually retired. The team buckled under the pressure of its the great exceptions that it could not meet, but had been built up by Fletcher’s legacy.

Fletcher’s reliance on an inner circle of senior players left a vast vacuum of leaders, and an attitude that captaincy was more an implementation of pre worked plans than an on field innovator.

As for Flower, his stifling mechanised and robotic style of management crushed the individual, and especially when England began to lose after 2012, became a thoroughly drab and unattractive style of cricket.

The natural successor to Andrew Strauss as captain was seemingly his opening partner; Alastair Cook. Despite no captaincy experience, he succeeded the throne, because he was a senior player, and because after all; what he was going to do was just implement plans.

That is the measure of the post Fletcher and Flower era.

The criteria to captain was based upon Fletcher’s notion of the image and attitude of the team being led by a senior player, regardless of little experience. This was mixed with Flower’s doctrine of not having to think, but merely just run through plans and calculations.

Cook is the product of bygone eras. He is not fulfilling what these doctrines want, because he isn’t a natural captain, and doesn’t have the initiative to think outside of the box when teams are countering plans.

Examining Alastair Cook’s Future and a Potential New Captain

The dire performance of England’s team specifically on day four of the second Test, was matched by the uninspiring vacuum of captaincy. Cook needs to re-assess his role in the side, and get back to his primary role of scoring runs.

Being reduced to 57/5 after just 26.2 overs whilst chasing 350 ate into every single England fan watching. In anticipation for what could be a painful summer that includes five Tests against India, it was the first sign that the winter was going to continue long into the summer.

Alastair Cook’s captaincy leaves a lot to be desired. He his not a natural tactician, nor is he seemingly attacking. He was happy to sit back and not attack Mathews on day four, over bowling his main seamers so they became ineffective, under bowling Moeen Ali, and generally lacking thrust.

Cook outlined very boldly in the last three years, he is no tactician. George Dobell described Cook as a tactician, as:

‘More mouse than Strauss; more phoney than Dhoni’, on ESPN Cricinfo

That is not flattering.

He is a strong captain arguably when he is batting well, but in the last year or two that has massively declined.

After averaging 84.27 in 2011, his runs in 2012 were at an average 48.03 and then down all the way to 33.92 in 2013 and around 15 this year so far.

Strangely before this Test at Headingley, England had played 23 Tests since South Africa in 2012, winning just seven, losing eight, and drawing eight.

It’s not good enough, and quite frankly, a significant portion of the blame must rest on the captain. England can no longer hide behind this being the new era. Cook has been in the job for a number of years, and has shown only in India, that he is a capable batsman and captain simultaneously. He needs to let go.

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We want our old Alastair Cook back please

At Headingley, Cook passed Geoff Boycott for all time English run scorers. He is around 60 runs behind one Kevin Pietersen.

This is a batsman that knows how to bat. But as outlined, his average has been steadily declining under the captaincy.

As his runs have dried up, so too have the teams results.

England must look at this situation and ask a question.

He is a once in a generation batsman, so why are we compromising his clear ability with captaincy, especially if he isn’t that good at captaincy.

The fact is, that when a sub continental side comes to England and teaches the home team how to bowl and captain on their own decks, there needs to be a serious assessment of tactics.

Cook is a nice person I’m sure. He is a sensationally talented player, nobody doubts it. But as a captain, he is about as inspiring as a lump of stale bread, and about as innovative as a plank of wood. Let him bat.

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Who could take over then?

In Eoin Morgan, England have both an attacking batsman and an inventive Captain.

Dropped from the Test side because he was unable to translate his ODI and T20 performances into the Test arena; he has come back much more strongly in First Class cricket.

Now at 27 years old, he was told to go back to County cricket and get some form. He did it. Morgan prioritised; skipping the IPL for Middlesex; scoring two centuries in this season already, including an enormous 191. As a captain, he struck a century against his former side, Ireland; in addition to handling a broken and shattered team down in Australia.

He may not be as technically sound as Ian Bell, or as gritty as a Alastair Cook, but his clear determination to place himself back in contention is admirable. His unorthodox technique makes him an appealing offer of variety for a stagnating England team too, although his main uphill task is to get back into the team.

Currently, the top order is jam packed with new talent, and plenty more is awaiting; such as that of James Vince, James Taylor and many others. Morgan’s runs are going to have to be thick and fast, and particularly in limited overs cricket, he needs to assert himself for England as the flair player.

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Other candidates could be Ian Bell, who is the natural successor to a deposed Alastair Cook as one of the few remaining senior batsmen. He has captained England under 19s, and Warwickshire before, and does lead from the front in the middle. He was England’s player of the year in 2013, and has now matured into one of the most aesthetically pleasing batsmen in the world.

One final option could be to give it to either Stuart Broad, Matt Prior or Joe Root. Matt Prior used to be a vice captain, but after his form drastically fell away, and he was temporarily dropped. He is a risk as he does not have an assurance of long term selection.

Stuart Broad unsuccessfully captained the T20 side, losing embarrassingly to Holland recently, and not showing anything particularly outstanding as a captain. He has no Test experience captaining, and has suffered numerous injuries lately also.

Joe Root could be a Graeme Smith type selection; young, massive potential, versatile and popular, he could take on the role in a shorter term capacity until a more long term prospect emerges. It may of course be too much responsibility.

What is absolutely clear however is that Cook needs to either improve his tactical awareness as captain, get back into the runs, or quit the captaincy before it’s too late.

England’s Superiority Complex

England have some outstanding cricketers, but they have a superiority complex. They blot out their failings with the record of excellence and are beginning to take the process of winning for granted.

Since the 8th July 2009 (1st day of the Ashes in 2009) until the last Ashes series 2013, England have played in 54 Tests and have won 28, with 11 series wins out of 16 [excluding the Ashes 2013/14].

They have a strong overall record under the reigns of Andy Flower, but of late, this dominance has smothered their failings. As their success has tailed off since the series against Pakistan in 2012, the failure has been amalgamated into this period of dominance. It has blended into one when, it is two very distinct periods of success and failure. They need to get over themselves. England proudly present their excellence, but as they do, fans and opponents are realising that is a a mechanism to hide a more sinister insecurity and chronic lack of substance. 

There is little doubt that performances have been disappointing in the last year and a half to two years, particularly due to frailties with the bat. Within a more concise time frame, we can see that it has not been as simple as 11 series victories out of 16, but it has in fact been a curve of success, and a dramatic fall from grace. It has given a deceptive and undeserving confidence to England.

Splitting Flower’s England into two periods highlights this curve of success, with England versus Pakistan in the U.A.E. as the mid-way point.

Between the Ashes of 2009 until the India series in England in 2011, almost exclusively, England experienced victory and dominance. After that four-nil drubbing of India, came the series of Pakistan in the U.A.E. in 2012, which England lost 3-0, up until the Ashes in England in 2013, England looked insecure and struggled. Yet when talking about England in recent years, the situation is presented as a monolithic block of success. 

The record is 15/17 series won or drawn. All hail Andy Flower. 

In the first half of this period eight series’ were contested, with seven victories and one draw. It was an exceptional time to be an England fan, and indeed a cricket fan, as some very high quality cricket was offered. England were victorious in 19 out of 29 Tests (a win percentage of 61.51%), and it took them to the dreamy heights of number one ranked Test nation, including two magical Ashes victories in 2009, and 2010/11, and whitewashing then number one Indian side.

Conversely, and rather worryingly, the next eight series (between Pakistan in the U.A.E. in 2012 and the previous Ashes in 2013), have been much less fruitful.

England have won three of these last eight series’, with just 10 Test victories out of 25 Tests (a win percentage of just 40%). There have been seven lost Tests, compared to just four in the previous block (despite the previous period having four more Tests), and England lost their number one ranking. 

It is adequately clear that the current England side is a long shot from that England side between 2009-2011, yet the myth that is perpetuated is that it is the same. The reliance on this fabulous record or having only two lost series in the last 16 is deceptive, because it glosses over their failings. This myth gives England a certain security, and a certain feeling of superiority, as they basque in their own glory, and draw upon that for inspiration.

This side confident, compact and strong unit, or so we think. It’s built on a record of proven success after all, isn’t it? Yet, when they are skittled out for 136 and 179 in the first Ashes Test of 2013/14 people are surprised, as if England should be doing better based on their talent. This is the side that was number one. Why is this happening?

If one is to go on record, the performances given in Brisbane are a mere continuation of lacklustre and dismal form. Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell have all averaged between 39-42, with just 17 centuries in 178 innings. The top four are scoring a century in only 9.5% of England innings. The simple facts are that England need more centuries, partnerships and scores of over 400, 500, 600 and beyond. It isn’t happening.

Overall figures – 17th Jan 2012- Ashes 2013
Player   Matches Innings N.O. Runs HS Ave   100 50      
AN Cook   25 48 3 1933 190 42.95     6 6      
IJL Trott 25 47 2 1779 143 39.53     3 11      
KP Pietersen 21 38 1 1526 186 41.24   4 8      
IR Bell 24 44 7 1460 116* 39.45     4 9      
MJ Prior 25 40 7 1264 110* 38.30     1 8      
JE Root 11 21 2 763 180 40.15     2 3      

The continued struggle to replace the runs of both Paul Collingwood and Andrew Strauss has really hit England hard in creating a base for the innings, and consolidating that base later on. This is shown very clearly with relative high scores in the two periods outlined.

Between the Ashes 2009 and Pakistan 2012, England had one score of 700 plus, two of 600 plus, seven scores of 500 plus, and eight scores of 400 plus. Between Pakistan in the U.A.E. 2012 and the Ashes in 2013, England passed 400 in Test cricket seven times, with only one score of 500, and none of 600 or 700. The runs dried up. Runs win matches against high quality opposition. With the last recorded score of 400 plus all the way back in March 2013 versus the West Indies, England defeated Australia in the Ashes, despite not once going past 400.

They were able to win the Ashes in what Andy Zaltzman accurately called a ‘narrow thrashing’, which is essentially an emphasis on winning despite not actually playing particularly well. They were not exposed for their frailties, so the myth of being this compact and successful team, stuck. Their superiority complex covered up their insecurities. 

Who can criticise a team that won the Ashes, when so many grew up in an era in which England were battered time and time again. To reduce success to the opposition being poor, would seem unfair. Nevertheless, it is apparent that England scraped their way past Australia, because they were not called out for their failings, as they were against the South Africans.

It is about time they stopped pretending they are a side that they are not. They are not a superior outfit. They need to begin to look at their performances independent of the previous record of Flower up until 2011.

This is not a winning England side. This side has a mentality that it can overcome others without necessarily playing well, because this side is special, with Kevin Pietersen and Alastair Cook, Jimmy Anderson and Graeme Swann. All we need to do is turn up. This side was the number one, this side held the Ashes, this side is now losing. 

Eng v Aus series preview

England are Test champions and number one as well as T20 champions and ranked number one. The Australians are perhaps still clinging on their World number one space in One day cricket but will be a big challenge as they always are.

We have learnt that at home England are formidable though and have now won six consecutive home one day series. On paper i think England are stronger in the bowling and the Aussies are in the batting , but we all know that we do not play on paper we play on grass. Anything can happen when it is England v Australia. England named an unchanged 14-man squad for the one-day series against world number one side Australia. A great mix of experience and youth. Well oiled, tried and tested. Successful. England squad: A Cook (capt), J Anderson, J Bairstow, I Bell, R Bopara, T Bresnan, S Broad, J Dernbach, S Finn, C Kieswetter, E Morgan, S Patel, G Swann, J Trott.

Australia named a squad with some experience but a lot of unknown names to many. There is uncertainty as to their first team lineup and they are not as well oiled as England. Australia squad: M. Clarke (capt), S. Watson (vice-capt), G. Bailey, P. Cummins, X. Doherty, B. Hilfenhaus, M. Hussey, D. Hussey, M. Johnson, B. Lee, C. McKay, J. Pattinson, S. Smith, M. Wade (wk), D. Warner

To open: Cook and Bell. Of late these two have been successful both in the test match series and more recently the One day series. Ian Bell is now a really fluent and stylish player in all forms and his lovely hundred in the first one dayer struck a spot among many England that he is the replacement for Pietersen at the top. Alastair Cook’s ODI career comparison  of his form after January 2010 shows a radical change. Averaging over 50 with a strike rate of 90 hitting 4 tons and 8 fifteis.

Period Matches Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
Till Dec 2008 23 702 30.52 68.15 1/ 3
Jan 2010 onwards 24 1191 54.13 91.47 4/ 8
Career overall 47 1893 42.06 81.17 5/ 11

The Aussies will open up with Watson and Warner. This is possibly the strongest aspect of the entire side.  Warner has a great ODI record hitting two tons and 4 fifites in under 30 games. He can really hit it big bringing a flavor of T20 into ODI. I would say that Watson although a good player and a brilliant allrounder, has a conversion problem with 151 games but only scoring 6 tons. He can play astonishing cricket though with knocks such as his 151 against Bangladesh in april ’11 in which he hit a world record 15 SIXES. It is arguably honours even with the openers. England are more steady and reliable but Australia could be more explosive. However England have better opening bowlers than Australia. They will pose more of a problem and master the conditions better.

Trott at three with  Bopara at four have a blend of obdurate defense and swashbuckling attack. Bopara has been in and out and Trott has a question mark as to his place in the ODI side as he is a slow scorer. However Trott has 3 tons and 15 fifties, averaging nearly 50 and is in the top 10 in the world. Arguably it would be better to have a more attacking player at three to get on with it but no one can argue with Trott’s place in this team really. The likes of Morgan, Patel, Kieswetter and Bairstow  etc have barely batted due to success in the top 4 and there is a lack of assurance on their permanent position in the order.

Australia’s middle order in most of the West Indies one dayers back in March, was made up of Forrest and Bailey with a smattering of Wade. A few fifities here and and there.  Forrest does however have a ODI ton. He could be a surprise. Clarke was absent from that specific WI tour but it is likely that the Aussie skipper will be at three. Clarke is averaging 45  with  7 tons and 51 fifties. He is the player the openers can accelerate around without the team falling apart and also the player the likes of Hussey x2 can kick on later whilst he keeps a steady ship. Michael Hussey in particular has a  great record averaging a shade under fifty. He has shown he can anchor the innings or explode at the end. I don’t honestly think England have that kind of anchor in the middle like Clarke or Hussey.England’s only real performer with the bat consistently has been Cook with 435 at an average of 72 and 3 tons.

England in the past 6 one dayers  have had two incredible stats: Firstly that in all 6 of them an opening batsmen has hit a ton and secondly, that  there has not been a single 5 wicket hall.  There have been 4 wicket halls for Finn, Dernbach and Bresnan but the wickets have been very spread out. This in my view indicates they do not rely on anyone but there is a constant pressure on the batsmen from every bowler. When Anderson and Finn end their first spell, Broad comes on with Bresnan. When they have finished then the world class Swann comes on. England’s bowlers; Anderson, Bresnan, Broad, Dernbach and Finn are formidable. It is likely  Broad, Anderson, Finn and Bresnan will play first up with Dernbach in reserve or rotated. With England it is crystal clear and only one or two changes are possible. Even those have been regular changes of the last year. England may be lacking ever so slightly with the bat but the bowlers will win England the game more often than not if the batsmen do not perform. Especially in their own conditions. Even with injuries

The aussies have a hell of a lot of options with seam and they have picked both Doherty and smith in the spin department too. Australia have  Hilfenhaus, Johnson, Lee, McKay, Pattinson, Cummins  and ( Watson.) No one is sure who the Aussies will play for the simple reason that Hilfenhaus has only recently returned to form, Mitchell Johnson has been re selected after a period of being dropped  and the likes of Cummins, Pattinson and Mckay are all vying for one spot. CJ McKay (Aus) in 2012 has 13 matches 22 wickets at average of 22.90  and .   B Lee (Aus) 13 matches 22 wickets  at 26.22. Both solid and we expect Lee to play but not so certain about Mckay. If they go for Hilfenhaus it will benefit them in the swing and seam department. If they go for Pattinson they will get a bit of everything but little experience overall and none of English conditions. The outside chance is for Cummins who is apparently very quick but i would say lower in the pecking order, and Johnson depending on if Australia still trust him. Australia  are unsettled.

To sum up this series in my opinion will be a series of England’s top quality bowlers against Australia’s settled and experienced aggressive batsmen. Both sides have batsmen that have performed in the last year and diverse bowling attacks. It should be an absolute cracker of a series that will have the hype that surrounds any England v Australia series. Hopefully it will help to ignite the summer of English cricket and prepare us all for the ultimate test match series v the South Africans later on. My prediction 2-1 England