The Ashes Starts TomorrowTuesday, July 9th, 2013
The Ashes, the ultimate cricketing test for any English or Australian player. The cricketing contest that has produced some of the greatest moments in either of the nation’s history. For the first time in decades England have enjoyed a spell of dominance, no longer baffled by the turn of Warne, no longer frustrated by the accuracy of McGrath. England now has it’s own team of superstars, James Anderson with a swinging ball, Graham Swann with wicked spin and Alistair Cook and an unflappable Jonathan Trott to dig in with the bat.
Everyone is predicting an England victory. Sir Ian Botham, in typically brash, patriotic style claims that England will win 10-0 in the two, uniquely, back to back series we see this year. Even Aussie greats admit it would be an upset for the Baggie Greens to pull off a victory – a position England know all too well.
But these upsets can occur, all you need is a hero. England fans still bask in the glory of 2005, the greatest Ashes series ever as an Englishman. Freddie Flintoff bowled with such ferocity he basically ended his career as his body fell apart in the months afterwards – such is the importance of the Ashes that it never occurred to anyone, least of all him, that it wasn’t worth it.
Will their be unlikely batting heros? Panesar, one of the worst internationals to ever wield a willow has famously dug in on crucial last sessions, Kasprowicz came just 2 runs away from holding out in 2005 before Harmison stood up to be counted.
That is the key point, how many players of each side will stick their neck above the parapet and make history. Youngsters are in both sides, Joe Root for England goes into the series in good nick, Australia’s Mitchell Starc has proven he is competent on the world stage with the ball in hand. Will one set of youths crumble, whilst the others flourish?
To look down both teamsheets, you see more leaders in the England set up than you do for the Australians. Michael Clarke, the Australian’s one undisputed world class batsman struggles with fitness and his lower back could be the difference between a tight series and a whitewash.
There is one man who could change the series in an instant, yet to be mentioned. Kevin Pieterson, South African born, truly an English hero, is back in the fold after injury, fall out and any number of controversies. If he wasn’t English then the English would hate him, but he is, so they love him. He can take the game by the scruff of the neck and just win it, a quick fire hundred changes momentum so quickly and how KP loves to do it.
The fans will also play a role, take away the twitter driven campaign to ‘let Billy blow his trumpet’ which revolves around the Barmy Army’s one man orchestra and you still have a thousands of English fans encouraging the English players whilst heckling the Baggy Greens. They can lift a dull test team, weary after days in the field or they can pour misery onto an Australian side which is already down on its luck. They could play a large role and almost always do.
The Ashes is a struggle which last weeks, 5 days at five grounds means that their are a possible 25 full days of cricket in the next couple of months.
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