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Cricket Horrible Cricket - The Ashes Down Under, 2013/14


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EDIT: Updated thread title.

*straightens tie, coughs, waits for studio lights to come up*



Hello, and welcome to another edition of Cricket Lovely Cricket. You join us for the second leg in this year's Ashes one-two - England's tour of Australia. After an eventful home series in which both sides looked a bit scrappy, and dubious umpiring decisions stole the limelight more than once, what can we expect from the Australian tour? Have the teams, and the officials, learnt from their mistakes?

England, of course, won that first leg 3-0, thanks to an indomitable performance from Ian Bell and fairly consistent excellence from Anderson, Swann and Broad. The Aussie cupboard wasn't entirely bare, with Ryan Harris outbowling everyone else in the series, but just not getting the backup he needed to keep the pressure up.

The other problem for the Aussies was the fragility of their bowlers - such a problem, that one wonders if the reputation of Troy Cooley is going to undergo a negative re-evaluation in future. Starc, Pattinson and Bird were all afflicted with (suspected) stress fractures, Harris had hamstring problems towards the end of the tour. Of the quicks, only Peter Siddle, rumoured to be a golem constructed of tinned meat and coconut matting, made it through the tour without injury. Add to that the fact that Pat Cummins is still crocked, and Shane Watson limped off the field in India today, and the Aussies have to be worrying.

No squad announced for Australia yet, but it sounds like Clarke will be fit, and like George W Bailey might have played his way into the team in the India runfest.

For England, things look much better. Bresnan came down with a stress fracture during the last series, but is rumoured to be potentially ready to be flown into the squad if his recovery continues at its current pace. Cook also has a bad back, but should be fit. Monty Pee (can't wait for the bouncer jokes), who can probably be considered psychologically injured at this point, is also picked.

A few interesting names in the England squad. Michael Carberry, who I remember being the Next Big Thing about five years ago, and has put in a good knock in the first (rather lame) warm up. Boyd Rankin, our latest stolen Irishman, who is a big thing, and I believe came over from Ireland via a causeway of some sort. Bairstow's grip on the #6 slot still doesn't look secure, with yet another Yorkshireman (c/o Harare) in the form of Gary Ballance competing for that place. Given as his England scores so far consist of a 2 ball duck followed by a golden quacker in the warm up, Bairstow may be feeling a bit better. Tremlett returns from injury, but I'd be surprised to see him make an impact (mind you, I was surprised last time). Ben Stokes (born right here in sunny Christchurch NZ), who I'm very eager to see play, joins as a potential all-rounder, filling the ginger Dunelmian slot left vacant since Collingwood's retirement, and is probably more of a threat to Bairstow's place.

Two interesting names that aren't on the England list are Nick Compton, who we can presume forever discarded at this point, and Graham Onions, who despite dominating in the County Championship didn't get a call-up, and will be playing state cricket in South Africa. From my perspective, it looks like England see Onions as a like-for-like swap for Anderson, and if Jimmy gets injured I have no doubt Onions will be straight on the plane to Aussie, match fit and with plenty of competitive games under his belt.

Schedule can be found here. Once again, Tasmania misses out on a test, but gets probably the best warm-up match. TMS will be doing live commentary for the next two warm-up matches, as well as the full test series.

Two captains with bad backs competing to lift the lightest trophy in international sport is rather amusing. I think if it was the Stanley Cup, they'd both give up all hope.

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Sounds like a lovely day in Hobart, and Cook and Carberry are making hay while the sun shines. Both sound in very good nick, although Cook's not running too well. Carberry's first 50 pretty slow, but he's exploded out of the blocks since. Both in the 90s as I type, heading for a double-century opening stand.

Big news is that Carberry is opening, with Root slotting in at #5. Suggests that England aren't so sure about their #6 position, and may play Carberry at the top and push Root back down. If Ballance gets some runs this match, then the selectors have a very nice headache.

This is bizarre radio - it's TMS, but about 80% of the commentators are Australian. It's not going out on Australian radio, and the feed is geolocked so it's only available in the UK (thank you, Tunnel Bear), so it seems like a weird choice. The Aussie Commentators have been making salty jokes about "mighty erections" (cranes), probably safe in the knowledge that no bugger is hearing them.

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You know the best thing about all this?

Christmas Day. Wine. Too much food. A strange selection of possibly naff gifts to occupy your time. No work!

And then? Everyone else buggers off to bed, you finally get control of the TV remote, cricket on, snacks and wine at hand, sorted. A Boxing Day Ashes test. The feeling of slightly drunk excitement and satisfaction as the bowler runs in to bowl the first ball.

I've had an immensely busy year, but at that one precise moment I'm going to be as happy and stress-free as a pig in poo.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Would rather have Prior behind the stumps than Bairstow, but Vaughan's comments have been pretty poor. I don't give much time to the theory that he doesn't like him due to management issues (Bairstow not being managed by the same company as Vaughan) but I think he's definitely got some sort of problem with him. Bairstow is an attack minded batsman, and I think playing in that slot in the order will suit him, but with Swann not having left handsets to bowl to there will be a lot more emphasis on catching behind the wickets from the quicks.

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England would choose Prior over Bairstow for certain, but if he's an injury risk they'll not rush him back for this test I'm sure. Apparently Australia haven't lost on this ground since about 1988 or something mad like that, I can't wait for it all to start.

So Peter Siddle is saying they'll be trying to get Cook out. Pretty wild thinking there! I was also interested in Mitchell Johnson saying he's aiming for the throat, which suggests bowling a bit shorter than their bowling coach was talking about. Worrever.

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Tremlett or Finn for me, their extra height can get more out of the pitch - but they need to bowl the right line.

The only reason to put Bairstow behind the stumps is to bring in another bowler.

Aussies need Watson fit to bowl, he can be deadly at first/second change and in keeping the pressure on new batsmen.

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Wow that's quite optimistic!

VIc Marks was a bit more cautious: http://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2013/nov/16/england-ashes-australia-first-test

I can't bloody wait, me. I think England will win the series relatively comfortably but I dunno about this first test and I don't think it'll be as straightforward as last time in Australia seemed to be. Though even then I remember that first innings with Strauss going early, and then getting beat easily in Perth.

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Yeah it's all about the England innings. Last tour we won because the top order scored heavily, but that was against a weaker attack than Australia have now. In the summer our top order wasn't great, and if we hadn't had Bell digging us out of trouble time and again the overall result could have been very different.

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Agreed. In theory, this pitch suits our top order but can they be as patient and judicious as they need to be? And it being first test there aren't many Aussie bowlers injured yet so they look quite strong.

Be funny if they troll them again by getting out quickly in the first innings and then batting forever in the second.

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At least in the summer we were saved by a solid middle order (largely Pietersen and Bell, as Prior's average was pretty bad).

Now, our top order are underperforming, but our middle order is just outright collapsing. Always a bit tentative to declare an opponent's innings as awful when you've yet to have a go yourself. Suddenly the Australian total looks like it's miles away.

I was going to go to bed at 4am, or when we got to 100. I thought that would be at a loss of two wickets. They started falling just as I was about to shut my laptop down.

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Yup, it's been pretty nuts. 91-8.

Just like in the summer we once again got stuck in a slow run rate and then this time wickets tumbled. Same old problems. If Australia go on to win this test I'd put money on the momentum carrying them through to regaining the Ashes.

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We had a pretty terrible first innings at the Gabba in 2010, didn't we? Wiki says we were about 140 runs behind, which is roughly where we will probably end up this time.

Clearly we are going to be some distance behind them now - and after scoffing somewhat at their performance yesterday. They at least had a decent stand to elevate their total. Broad is handy with the bat for a lower-order batsmen, but he's not going to have them looking over their shoulders at their lead. I mean, I think we are yet to even avoid the follow on?

It's easy to blame England's batsmen, but the Australian bowlers have been great. Johnson in particular has been terrifically hostile, and we've gone from steady and composed, to shell-shocked and apprehensive. And that isn't "apprehensive" as in "careful" but rather looking nervous and frightened.

We're going to be behind whatever happens, so it's a case of how much. Just trying to get runs here and there and drag this out, edging as close as we can. I mean, even 150 is a lofty ambition, and something I am going to bed now dreaming about.

Some stats from Sky and the BBC: 39 runs for 6 wickets in that session and in the last 27 balls, England scored four runs at the cost of five wickets.

I can't help but fell that Trott needlessly going in that extra over before lunch started it. We'd have gone into lunch in the ascendancy with him still at the crease, though even then, we were still probably on a par with how the Australians did yesterday.

Still, it's only the first innings of the first test. They've had a very good bowling performance, so we have to hope that this is the exception rather than the rule.

It's worrying that it was a batting pitch and we've done particularly badly, mind. Given how we were over here a few months ago.

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