Hosts face Joe Root’s men in first of five-Test series from November 23 in Brisbane
Ashes, which is being termed as cricket’s oldest rivalry, is set to begin in less than a week’s time and both teams have finalized their preparations for the first match, which will begin on November 23 in Brisbane.
In the first preview for the series, we are looking at the strengths and weakness of the home side – Australia.
Australia’s strength is undoubtedly their strong bowling attack which consists of pace trio of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and off-spinner Nathan Lyon, while pacer Jackson Bird is waiting in the wings. Pat Cummins is the one guy among the pace attack who can cause a lot of damage due to his extra-pace. The positive for Australia will be that he has played a huge amount of cricket going into the Ashes series. Cummins will be keen to prove his mettle against old-enemy in front of his home crowds.
If and when on song, the bowling attack has all the ingredients to dismantle any batting unit on any giving surface, which they showed on the tour of India on more than one occasion.
Going by the saying ‘batting wins you matches, bowling wins you trophies’, hosts skipper Steve Smith will be optimistic that he have enough fire power to ensure another Ashes triumph.
Australia’s main weakness is their inexperience and untested lower middle-order batting, which is a cause of concern for the Baggy Greens for some time. Glenn Maxwell did not a decent job in the middle-order slot but selectors went for Shaun Marsh to address the problems faced by Australia. Cameron Bancroft also earned his maiden call-up to the side and will open the innings with David Warner. The debutant will under immense pressure given he has playing against England at home.
To settle this issue, selectors made a big call and opt for left-handed batsman Shaun Marsh and wicketkeeper batsman Tim Paine ahead of all-rounder Glenn Maxwell and Mathew Wade, who were clearly struggling for runs on the tour of India and Bangladesh. Paine has dubbed as the best wicket-keeper in the country by a mile by many cricket pundits.
It is yet to be seen if this gamble from the selection committee will paid off, but it surely increases the pressure on the likes of Smith and David Warner, who will be more under pressure to deliver in the presence of players who are fighting for their own spot in the final eleven.
Even though majority pundits believe Starc is the player to watch out for in the series, Smith’s importance to Australia’s cause is pivotal, especially considering the fact that there are some serious questions about team’s batting department.
Even though Australia are facing problems of their own, the home side will still start the series as slight favorites and England will have to deliver beyond expectations to get the result they are hoping for.