OUR cricket columnist, former England batsman and Warwickshire chairman Andy Lloyd, has been poring over all the Ashes action. Here he dissects what he’s learned from the play so far.
It’s almost impossible to pigeonhole Mitchell Johnson, but he’s certainly a player who can hurt you if you don’t respect him. He’s got bucket loads of natural talent, but you can’t rely on that alone and he’s not a player who will find regular success in a poor side, which is what Australia are. Ironically, were he English, he would offer Andrew Strauss the one element his current attack lacks; genuine pace. England’s failure to knock over the tail cheaply on the second morning had nothing to do with a lack of ruthlessness, more a lack of variety. Johnson, though erratic, provides the kind of hostility and venom that Strauss can’t call upon.
Andrew Strauss has many years ahead of him as England captain, but it’s important the powers that be plan for the future. You only have to look at the mess Australia are in to see what happens if you don’t. This tour has confirmed that Alastair Cook has all the credentials to succeed his opening partner. The Essex man has a similar temperament to that of Strauss and having performed so well Down Under, I’m sure the added pressure of captaincy won’t impact on his ability to score runs.
After the win in Melbourne the noises coming out of the England camp were of a desire to become the No1 Test side in the world.
When all is said an done, England are a better side than Australia and should win a five match series against them. India this summer will provide a much stiffer examination of England’s credentials. MS Dhoni’s men boast a powerful batting line-up, a top-class spinner and a skilled new ball attack. An intriguing summer is in store.
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STATS, CONDTIONS AND BANTER
DAY FOUR FORECAST
Light rain shower
The surface is slowly beginning to crack up and after serving up a couple of decent nuts on the second afternoon, batting last against debutant spinner Michael Beer will represent a tough task for England’s batsmen.
STAT OF THE DAY
The importance of England attaining a first innings lead is highlighted by the fact that the highest successful fourth innings run chase at Sydney was achieved by Australia in 2005 when the hosts reached 288-2.
“It’s not every day we get the chance to retain the Ashes in Australia, so it was just a little reminder.” – Perth Glory striker Robbie Fowler rubbed in Australia's Ashes woes. The former Liverpool star paraded and repeatedly kissed a replica Ashes urn before Perth’s 0-0 draw with Gold Coast in Queensland.
“Usman Khawaja, the way he played, he had such poise, he’s definitely the future of Australian cricket. All I know is that Usman Khawaja batted very well. He had a lot of poise, temperament’s good, he looks like he’s ready to bat No3 for Australia. Ricky has been a great player for No3; it’s going to be a tough call for the selectors.” – Former Aussie captain Steve Waugh is the latest to hail Usman Khawaja as the messiah after a moderately impressive 37 on his Test debut.