If the situation didn’t already look dire enough after their atrocious appearance at the World Cup, England will probably consider quitting cricket after Australia’s 17 man squad for this year’s Ashes series was named this week.
The England Cricket Board appeared to have built a team capable of competing as recently as 18 months ago but after the humiliation of backing themselves for a 5-0 whitewash only to have that prediction turned around and firmly thrust upon them over the 2013/14 summer, the Pommies have receded back to what I like to call “Classic England” – poor bowling, even worse batting and more in-fighting than the One Direction fan club.
Peter Siddle has been Australia’s go-to in lean periods of late but even he looks like missing out on a first XI spot to the likes of Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris and the World Cup’s best player Mitchell Starc; all named in the Ashes squad along with spinners Nathan Lyon and Fawad Ahmed.
So who do the soap dodgers pick to face such a potent pace attack?
There’s been a lot made of Kevin Pietersen’s exile from the national team over the last 12 months and many are calling for his reinstatement ahead of the Ashes. Several times this part-time South African has been brought into the fold only to be dumped again and nothing ever changes. If Pietersen was even half as good at holding his wicket as he is at picking twitter fights from the safety of a keyboard, then maybe the Aussies would face some resistance.
How about Gary Ballance? He was brought in to help save England the last time they faced Australia, and that went well! So poor has his form been, the ‘Yorkshireman’ who is actually from Zimbabwe would be hard pressed getting a run for the Harare Mugabes.
Ian Bell. Now there’s a batsman you can set your watch to. Even as an Australian it’s hard not to appreciate the grace of Ed Sheeran’s doppelganger with a big piece of willow in hand but it would not surprise me if he finishes every English innings not out on 20 as the other ten blokes get out around him.
Michael Clarke retired from 50 over cricket after the World Cup win to extend his test career, as injuries have been more frequent and severe in recent seasons.
Pup is sure to lead from the front an impressive Australian batting line-up boasting firepower from the likes of David Warner and Brad Haddin, calm stroke play from Chris Rogers and creativity from Steve Smith.
The once fearsome bowling of James Anderson and Stuart Broad has diminished, the lack of a world-class spinner is apparent and Australia could probably pick players from the Don’s last tour and post a defendable score as a result.
If I had it my way, we’d play the Kiwis at Lords, Old Trafford, the Oval and Trent Bridge and say it was England. That way, a five day match might be completed.