Australia touched down at Gatwick Airport yesterday and that has effectively triggered Ashes season. All the hype and trash talk will soon start and the excitement will intensify ahead of the opening ball of the first Test at Cardiff on 8 July.
I watched a fair bit of Australia’s recent two-Test tour of the Caribbean which they won 2-0, and they gave the West Indies a pretty good going over, something England were unable to do a few months ago.
Given the depth of their seam attack, I believe Australia currently possess the best fast-bowling unit in world cricket. They have at least three guys capable of bowling consistently at 90mph, which is something England simply do not have.
Man of the series Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc all took wickets in the Caribbean, while Ryan Harris, who has been wrapped in cotton wool ahead of the Ashes, and Peter Siddle can be added to the mix.
That extra pace could be be a pivotal weapon for Australia but a lot depends on the conditions. Johnson was so destructive during the last Ashes series in Australian conditions but he struggled over here in 2009 when it swung. In the past, when he has started spraying it around English batsmen have got on top of him.
He does look to be bowling pretty well at the minute, however, although not at the kind of pace which saw him take 37 wickets in five Tests during the 2013/14 whitewash series. He’s been hitting the 88mph mark.
When his confidence is high he is dangerous and I’m sure Australia skipper Michael Clarke will look to use him in four-over spells like he did last time around, which enabled him to bowl absolute rockets.
I was at home watching the England one-dayer against New Zealand on Sunday when my Surrey team-mates Rory Burns and Moises Henriques were involved a horrific on-field collision, which left both unconscious.
When freak accidents like that happen you naturally think the worst and automatically recall the tragic events of Australia batsman Phillip Hughes’s death. It was a case of frantically messaging people in the dressing room at Arundel for updates.
While their short-term injuries are pretty nasty, their long-term health looks fine. Moises has now been released from hospital and Rory turned up to our game against Glamorgan at Guildford yesterday, albeit battered and bruised.
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