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Sight Screen

Friday, June 17, 2005

Ashes watch

1. In SMH, a Richard Hinds atmosphere piece on English fans, who oscillate between the hope their team will do well and the fear of voicing such Panglossian optimism out loud.
2. Also from the same site, a Chloe Sattlau piece on Brett Lee, who seems to be making more news by not playing than he did the last few times he played.
3. Consider, for a moment, how hard it must be to play for Australia. Here's Michael Kasprowicz -- many Indian fans will remember him as the guy who unwisely sledged Sachin Tendulkar in Sharjah, and paid a heavy price for it. The story of how he worked on his bowling and improved to the point where he was winning games for Australia and in the process, knocking the far more glamorous Brett Lee out of the lineup was datelined just yesterday, seems like. But one bad outing against Somerset the other day, and suddenly he is the one feeling the pressure and facing the wrath of his captain.
4. And while on that one day warm up game against Somerset at Taunton the other day, it's replacing the traditional tea leaves when it comes to predicting the immediate future of the Ashes contest.
Not since 1977's three-day festival match at Bath, at the very beginning of Somerset's glory days and with a young Ian Botham about to break into the England team, has the cider county beaten the touring Australians. It was not lost on the stunned onlookers at Taunton on Wednesday that England went on that year to win the Ashes series 3-0.

5. It's been whispered before. Very, very softly. After successive defeats -- in Twenty20 to England, and to Somerset in a one-day warm-up -- those whispers are getting just a touch louder.
As much as at any other time, the onus will be on Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne and Jason Gillespie. While the magnitude of their wicket tallies has frequently been highlighted of late, perhaps the aggregate of their ages will soon become the story. They are now 100. McGrath and Warne, the great champions, have between them clocked 70 of those years. One day soon, they will realise how old they are. More to the point, so will the batsmen facing them. Perhaps age will creep up; perhaps it will arrive with a thud.

6. Then again, it's all a matter of perspective -- 'age' is one way of looking at it; 'experience', says Gideon Haigh in The Guardian, is another.
In 128 years of Anglo-Australian cricket, only 55 Australian players have toured England as often as thrice. Six of them are in this team: Shane Warne on his fourth sojourn, Ricky Ponting, Justin Langer, Adam Gilchrist, Jason Gillespie and Glenn McGrath on their third.
If rain interruptions compel the screening of archival footage this season, it may be a little difficult to tell the difference. Australia's first-choice attack - Warne, McGrath, Gillespie and Michael Kasprowicz - is the same as the one with which they began the Ashes of 1997. Five of the team also helped heft the World Cup here six years ago.

7. Peter Roebuck, in The Independent, flips through the pages of history, and finds a leaf he thinks England might want to read from.
8. Roebuck, above, points to Steve Waugh's tactic of letting his fast bowlers slip their leash -- and this story in The Telegraph, again, suggests England may be planning to do just that, as part of a well thought out strategy.
There are not many bowlers who prefer taking medicine to handing it out, especially when those dishing up the pain pills are Stephen Harmison and Andrew Flintoff. But the tactic has wider aims than to force Glenn McGrath and Co into a bit of unseemly genuflection. Indeed, the bigger picture has England's batsmen also benefiting, as the Australians get dragged into a bouncer war in which most of their bowlers concede a serious speed disadvantage.

9. One thing's for sure -- this time round, Team England does not seem scared of taking the Aussies on in pre-Ashes hard talk. Thus, Michael Vaughan suggests, with the sort of cheek that was previously the prerogative of Aussie skippers, that the Aussies might not be as battle ready as they want to be.
10. And finally -- dated link this, but a fun read anyways -- Piers Morgan in the Guardian has the skinny on how England can win the battle.


  • At some point in time England will defeat Australia. When that happens England will be worthy successors to the great champion team. Jubilations and celebrations will be that much greater because the English have worried themselves sick over for the years.

    But if England does not succeed, they will still be number two. Their next mission would be an all out assault on the subcontinent. Will they lord over the subcontinent?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 21:18  

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