Posted by: nestaquin | July 8, 2009

2009 Ashes Preview

the ashesThe 2009 Ashes contest begins shortly at the home of Welsh cricket, Sophia Gardens in Cardiff. Obviously, there is a lot at stake in the series not least Australia’s tentative place at the peak of the Test cricket world.

Australia will undoubtedly bat first if they win the toss and England will have to bowl very well to keep them under 350 regularly as the batting is strong and deep with Mitchell Johnson, a centurion in his last Test, coming in at eight.

The Australian bowling is less secure and much has been made of their inexperience although it should be remembered that this supposed flaw proved critical against South Africa as their youthful enthusiasm and unfamiliar nature became an accidental advantage.

England are so frightfully inconsistent that it’s difficult to judge their prospects. However, one thing is certain, they’ll need to improve on their performances against the Windies significantly if they are to challenge their old foes over five Test matches.

After the five-nil drubbing last series and their most recent win in South Africa, Australia deserve favouritism but as Graeme Smith and co. discovered in February what the bookies reckon means very little once the batsman take guard and the opening bowlers mark out their run-ups.

Australia may have a few problems but they’ve spent most of the last year playing India and South Africa and that should stand them in good stead against easier opposition. Let’s hope England play somewhere near their potential and in doing so produce a competitive series.



  1. In typical English conditions (it’s wet and cold again in London and likely much the same in Cardiff), I think England’s players will have an edge (just as Aus players would have an edge in the Southern hemisphere). But, unlike home advantage for Aus that puts them well in front, home advantage for England puts them a nose in front which makes a tied series more likely than a win for either side.

    England played some very good cricket home and away vs WI and were let down by one or two poor sessions and an inability to drive home the win. Good sides learn how to cut out the bad session and drive home the win – we’ll soon find out if England are a good side or not.

  2. Well. here we go, nesta.. The agony of Syd hours and London hours . The black cold nights with the whispery echo of everyone else’s broadcast, the hallway cricket during the lulls, when the bloody ball gets hit into the chandeliers and one has to call the repairman in the daylight, the strange things one eats, special cricket food for GMT Ashes time…

    Milo, dried apricots, nutty bars, idiotic blocks of gorgeous Tas cheese, Lapsang tea, Bundaberg rum with odd additions, the experiments with daquiries in the dawn hours, the crazy craving for soup at 4am. .. . hot strong black coffee that makes one shake a bit, …

    • Pepp – you sound like Roy in rehab!

  3. Australia 2-1.

    Australia has that little bit more class among them to win more of the ‘key moments’ than England, and are better conditioned to produce their best in pressurized circumstances. However England might surprise if both Flintoff and Pietersen stay fit the whole series. Given that the Oz bowling attack as a whole are increasingly having trouble taking 20 wickets, there’s going to be some attritional cricket on show.

    Apart from the usual suspects, I tip:

    Cook to have a good series with McGrath now retired;

    Siddle to take the most wickets (not sure how effective Johnson and Clark will be on the softer English pitches);

    Hughes to fire far more often than he fails;

    Stuart Broad’s batting to be more valuable than his bowling;

    McDonald to make a cameo and take crucial middle order wickets (his batting will still be below par though!);

    Only 2 hours to go …

    • I’ve faith in Broad’s bowling. I was really surprised at how big he was when I saw him at The Oval.

  4. I feel like Roy in rehab, Mouth.. I am beyond nervous as always… I lunge between pure excitement and crazed nervousness whenever I see Ricky lead the Rollers out , and especially in their whites..

    wellwell.. Hilfy in… All Tasmania rejoices!@!

  5. Yah Hilfy

  6. Pleased that Hilfy gets a go but more fearful of him than of Clark.

  7. The pitch appears as dead as week old roadkill.

    Hilfy looks the business with some nice shape through the air.

    Very early on but on first impressions it is being played on a featherbed that will be very easy for batting and whatever turn there is will be awfully slow. So unless several batsman on one team get themselves out a draw already looks most likely.

    To be frank, it looks a terrible pitch for exciting Test cricket.

  8. I bought a kilo of coffee beans today. How I’m going to get to work tomorrow morning lord knows. 2-2 with Australia retaining the Ashes.

  9. Nesta – we’ll know the pitch at the middle of Day Three I expect. And that’s why I feared Hilfy more than Clark.

  10. HIlfy has taken his usual wicket in his opening spell and now Siddle is starting to warm to the task nicely. Ravi using his helmet instead of his bat has only fired Siddle up further. Still it is a very slow pitch for a first morning. England looking a little shaky 40 minutes into the first hour.

  11. I’ve got a feed to my computer that I can cut to intermittently. Ravi is very tough and will wear a few early on, then start to pull once he feels he has the measure of the pitch.

  12. Drinks 39/1 (15) The standout performer was undoubtedly Hilfy. A wicket and only 10 runs from seven straight overs. Strauss is beginning to get his eye in so if he can bat through to lunch he could take the honours in the next hour.

  13. Interesting-ish start on a dead pitch. Ben and Sids have bowled well, MJ yet to find his rhythm. Strauss has always been a terrific player. Bopara yet to impress.

  14. Bugger! Good shout turned down. Computers say it was out……

  15. Australians are not in a good form , but Australia will beat England.

  16. MJ found his rhythm!

  17. What an over by Mitch!! LBW turned down, hits Bopara, then deceives him with a slower one and then blasts out Strauss. Great cricket. Deserved the wicket.

  18. Another wicket before lunch – and Bopara looks likely – and England will be on the back foot for the rest of the day.

  19. It’s Strauss!

    I don’t know – two wickets before lunch on the first day is the minimum an attack would look for. It’s keeping it down to five at the end of the day which will make it a good or bad day for England. I’ll be happy with 270-5.

  20. Promising signs from Hilfenhaus today.

  21. Smart smart bowling MJ. The English commentary has spent half the telecast bagging him – cant swing it, scrambled seam etc. Been a distinct lack of respect for him as a bowler as if swinging it is the only thing that ever mattered. Feels as though they have actually never seen him bowl before.

    • I doubt they’ve studied Sids or Hilfy either. All three are dead set champs and compliment each other well. The English will get to know them as they’ll be bowling together for many years to come.

  22. Bopara’s streaky knock has finished in embarrassing fashion and there is still time for a fourth wicket before the break.

    Considering Australia were forced to field and the pitch is dull this has been a marvellous start for Australia and I’m well pleased that the young trio that saved the mace were given first crack at The Ashes.

    • Love those kids! Big next wicket, two pros at the crease.

  23. Clever stuff from MJ. I think the talk of swing is that there’s been a big thing made here of MJ swinging it back into the right-handers. I think everyone here thinks he’s good, I knew Hilfy would be good in England, but I’m not sure about Siddle banging it in and Hauritz is surely there for the over-rate.

    Aus session now for sure.

  24. Hilfy is all over KP. And what is Doctrove doing umpiring? Wasn’t he standing with Hair when Dazza caused all the hand-wringing and forfeiting?

    • He was, but he seemed to get away with it!

  25. Lunch 97/3 (27) Fantastic opening session for Australia. No English batsman looked comfortable and only Hilfy bowled anywhere near his usual form.

    Much is made of the first session of Ashes contests and Australia will enjoy their lunch after a solid and professional first session.

  26. Good start, slightly in Aus favour but pitch will do them no favours into the day. One of the strengths of these quicks though is the workhorse element. And then, um, the spinners………

  27. Hilf likely to have missed if Lee hadn’t gone down?

    • Almost certainly Jap. Hence, the Hallelulah! a few days back. Also, I reckon Siddle bowled well and was a touch unlucky. At least half the runs hit off him were edges and his hitting Bopara in the grill lifted the intensity of the whole team. I’d get him back on straight after lunch.

      On Bopara, it is very poor for a No. 3 to be fooled three times in five overs by the old bouncer, bouncer, slower one trick. He was clearly rattled and Ricky and The Rollers smelled the fear. He played some lovely drives off the errant half-volley but he looked a walking wicket in between.

      He’ll need to do something special in the next couple of Tests to earn the respect of his opponents. It’s never a good look for a batsman when the opposition laughs you off the pitch!

      • I think he’ll deliver soon.

        Everyone who get out to a slower ball gets laughed off don’t they – remember Harmison to Clarke in 2005?

        • He wasn’t laughed off because he was caught. Hughes, Clarke and Johnson were giggling because he was frightened. Clarke yelled out the ball before he was caught, “Give him another one Mitch. He’s shitting himself.”

          It’s only natural, he copped one square in the grill, one on the shoulder and another on the back. He was taking his eye off the short ones and he wasn’t alone. Strauss did too when he was dismissed.

          It will be a stern examination of Ravi’s character in the coming Tests. Once the Australians find a weakness they are merciless in exploiting it. If he is all you say he is he’ll bounce back but I’m sure he now realises that there is a huge gulf in class and mongrel aggression between the Windies and the BaggyGreens.

          • I’m sure he’ll do it. Fidel hit him and he is very slippery indeed.

      • Looked a bit loose didn’t he for a 3. Be more dangerous down the order.

  28. I was impressed with how Aus made things happen with a sensational catch, a slower ball and a bouncer – there’s a lesson for England there. Given the over-rate and the need to give the three pacemen a rest, I suspect the spinners (and possibly Hussey) will need to bowl 20 overs today. If England can milk these for about 80 without losing a wicket, they could still be looking at a competitive total (say 350 around Midday tomorrow).

    • Considering they are playing two spinners England need 350 at the very least in the first dig. Wickets won’t be easy to come by that’s for sure. After watching the first half hour my initial thought was that if Hussey gets in on that wicket he could bat till Xmas!

      The Australian bowlers haven’t many overs under the belt so they are fresh enough. And I can guarantee that Hussey won’t get a bowl on Day One no matter the circumstances.

      • I don’t know Nesta – if Hauritz is getting McGained and there’s the Test at Lord’s next Thursday, somebody has to bowl. I’m not as keen as you are on the pitch from a batting perspective – I suspect it’s already a bit two-paced and that 350 will be a very handy score.

        • North, Katich and Clarke will all bowl before Hussey. l think they fancy North to tie an end down a bit.

        • Perhaps you are right but 100 in a session by a team that never looked like dominating indicates that there are plenty of runs on offer. It looks ridiculously easy after lunch too.

  29. Geez KP is a quality player. Dynamic. Pleasure to see him bat again. Seen enough now though!

  30. I am listening to the ABC free broadcast on the radio, as well as watching the free to air TV on SBS… Nasser and Botham in full flight about the uselessness of Mitch… well. I laughed. I got a bit jack of it, and now the ABC has 2 remarkably fruity chaps burbling commentary…

    The Punter looks so spiffy.

    • His new woolly vest has him looking less grubby than usual. Hauritz is on. This is a golden opportunity for him. I hope he can take it.

  31. I get the distinct impression that Collingwood doesnt trust Pietersen as far as he could chuck him.

    3 before lunch was awfully nice. I particularly liked Bop’s wicket, Strauss.. words fail me.

  32. I dont think Kev trusts Collingwood either…

  33. ‘Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood look to give England the upper hand on the first afternoon of the Ashes series. ‘

    this from the BBC site.. are they completely bonkers?

    • Flattish wicket, soft ball, 4 and 5 at the crease, bowling attack with 147 wickets between them. Positive yes, bonkers no.

  34. Sounds like they are going with ‘Ritz’ on the nickname front. l have seen him called ‘Blueberry’ elsewhere – NSW pies.

    Crucial partnership here.

    • He’s bowling pies for Australia now so perhaps we should call him Meaty although Marshmallow would be equally apt.

  35. Helluva stat this –;filter=advanced;orderby=fow_runs;partnership_wicketmax1=4;partnership_wicketmin1=4;partnership_wicketval1=partnership_wicket;team=1;template=results;type=fow

    • So for two blokes that don’t trust each other, they’ve the highest number of runs for any English fourth wicket pair.

      • If they get their exact average today I’ll be a happy chappy.

        Drinks. 141/3 (43) Well done England. If they can continue to tea KP and Colly will have mended the mess the top order left them. Time to give Katich a few overs in tandem with Mitch. Anyone but Meaty would be welcome. After watching that spell I’m so uninspired I’m missing Ronnie McDonald.

        • Ronnie wouldn’t help the over-rate though would he? 27 before lunch followed by the same after lunch would mean 36 in the final session and the penalties are nasty these days.

  36. At drinks they are only two off the pace so no need to worry about penalties just yet especially when they tack an extra half hour into every day.

  37. Does the half-hour count against the totting up process for the captain? I’m not sure. Hauritz instead of Clark when Clarke can bowl is an extraordinary selection.

  38. nearly time for Kev to do something so ridiculous and nutso….

    • His leg seems to be bothering him so it is possible, however, you should always beware the injured batsman especially one as talented as Kev.

    • I remember our disdain for KP’s charge at McGrath – reading Steve Waugh’s biog last night, he said that he was amazed that more batsmen didn’t charge Pidge.

      • I don’t think Steve ever played a match against Glenn and I doubt he tried it too often in the nets! McGrath was so clever that you’d only be able to charge him once. That’s the lesson that KP learned. Everything is easier in retirement isn’t it?

        Tea 194/3 (59) Good session for England. They are in control and could conceivably take the match away from Australia from this position. The pitch is not really up to Test standard and reminds of the disgraceful strip in Mumbai where the fashioned pitch backfired on India and Pup took 6 for 9.

        Australia will continue to defend and have a shot with the new ball late in the final session. Hauritz, as expected, is absolute rubbish and his inclusion might be the difference between winning and losing.

        • I agree that Pidge would work it out, but it’s interesting that S Waugh should mention it.

          I wouldn’t be too judgemental of the strip before both sides have bowled on it – I’d be amazed if it turned square and I don’t think that helps spinners anyway. It’s bounce and pace that spinners want, just like the pacemen. It’s a ground that’s hosting its first five day game, which is an absurd decision, but one can understand the groundsman wanting the pitch to hold out. I’m not sure that it’ll be a bit two paced by Saturday and that it will reward tight lines and, especially, the man who bends his back to get the ball chin high.

          New drainage at Lord’s has made the pitch dead from Day Three onwards and I think this ground has the same drainage system, so it might go the same way. It’s great that play starts so quickly after a deluge, but give me pace and consistent bounce any time.

          • It’s a similar type pitch that Younis Khan scored 300 on a few months back. Absolutely nothing in it. No bounce or seam and the spin is so slow that the batsman can read it off the pitch on a good length.

            Spectators, and players for that matter, want a decent contest between bat and ball and this pitch, for the beginning of one of the most famous sporting contests on the planet, is a terrible disappointment.

            I’m concerned it will deteriorate horribly if the hole where Johnson plants his back foot in delivery stride is any indication. He’s only bowled 13 overs and the hole is already 2cm deep. If the footmarks on the pitch behave similarly it may be sometime before Wales is granted its second Test.

            • Might be a good thing – mad decision in the first place.

  39. Almost every day of the six Tests against South Africa went into overtime and I don’t recall either captain being reprimanded.

    With Hauritz I can only assume that the wicket looks good for spin and he is the spinner nominated by the selectors. Therefore, he plays. I think McGain was shafted too soon. He was only going to get better after the hiding he copped.

    If Hauritz doesn’t produce in this match and with no Test at Trent Bridge I doubt he’ll get another run. Clark will play at Lord’s if fit. I’ve no doubt whatsoever about that.

    With the wicket flat and slow Australia are doing well in restricting the boundaries. And England are doing just as well in milking three an over.

    Another noticeable aspect has been Australia’s faultless fielding. It has been top notch all day.

  40. Ricky sets a terrific field.. I could never work out Vaughan ‘s or Flintoff’s fields , but Collingwood seemed to have some idea, his were not so dire.

  41. The fielding is superb (as ever), but isn’t it a mite defensive? When Hilfy opened after lunch with KP on 6, I was surprised to see only two slips and a sweeper. KP pushed it out there and Punter brought in a third slip for Colly.

    Seems the modern way though – although I would have wanted a short leg and a short cover, even at my pace.

  42. Fascinating day’s play so far..

    ..and some lively, informative discussions here :)

    I think it is way too early to blame the pitch though.

    Also, Nesta, entirely unrelated, but the Mumbai turner did not backfire on India.Clarke did take all those wickets, but India won that test.

    Oh.just as I hit submit, Colly gifts his wicket to a pretty ordinary delivery.It is all up to KP now, and I think he would love to come back tommorrow and go for a big score.

    • Yes my mistake Kumar. Australia had already won the series prior to that match. Interesting to note that Hauritz made his Test debut in that infamous match and even though he had everything in his favour he did little to impress there as well.

    • Kumar – not all up to KP. Prior is a proper batsman (if not proper keeper) and Flintoff is a hitter, Swanny a hitter and Broad, if he gets into double figures, very handy. I’d back at least one of them to get fifty and the others to hang about.

  43. KP is starting to look a bit loose. Very lucky to survive an LBW shout from an excellent Hifenhaus inswinger and now Clarke just dropped a sharp chance in the covers off the same bowler.

    I suppose if he gets two or three lives he is bound to score a big ton.

    • Just seen that LBW – shocker!

      • They should’ve really started the referral policy with this series, I think.

        • Or appoint a more competent and decisive umpire than Billy Doctrove!

  44. Yes..Hauritz made his debut then, and that should have been his last test match. ( I don’t agree that raging turners are bad for Cricket though, but that discussion can wait, I suppose).

    Does any one agree with me that KP is the best batsman on either side?Ponting’s obviously played longer and has a better record, but right now, isn’t KP the more feared one?

  45. Well…I talk about Hauritz and KP, and both of them prove me wrong a few minutes later :)

    • There’s cricket for you!

      England have given away a lot of wickets here, but congrats to the Aussies for hanging in and making it happen.

      • They’ve employed the same patient strategy that was successful in South Africa. Attack with the new ball or in the early stages of a batsman’s innings and then when the ball softens defend with tight bowling and sharp fielding and then throw everything at the opposition when the second new ball is taken.

        The last ten overs today is going to be fierce and it should be a pivotal period of the match.

  46. KP is certainly the most dynamic batsman but if you saw the shot that he just played to get himself out I don’t think you’d want him to bat for your life.

    Ponting is definitely past his prime but for me Hussey has been showing signs that he is through his slump and if he is in form he’d be the first batsman I’d pick in a combined XI.

    Drinks 241/5 (72) Good hour for the visitors and with two new batsman at the crease and the new ball not far away Australia will be looking to add a few more scalps before the stumps.

    As for the pitch I don’t mind sharp turn or seam or high bounce but what makes me despair is a pitch with none of the above especially on the first day as it often leads to boring stalemates that are only good for inflating averages.

  47. If Eng doesn’t lose any more wickets today, the honors will be even, and both sides can look forward to the second day.I’d rather have this than one side completely ahead of the other.So, by that reckoning, this pitch had some thing in it for every one on day 1, I’d say.

    Of course, new ball for the next 10 overs, and things could change ! Good day for test cricket.

  48. Prior cashing in on some easy stuff from Siddle.Seizing a bit of momentum for his side.

    Always painful to see fast bowlers not making good use of the new ball.

    • Especially when they are from the team you support!!

  49. Siddle O’ Siddle !

    Good night on that note !

  50. I can’t help feeling a bit of Clark or even McDonald miserliness has been missed.

    • Ronnie would have been better than Hauritz and Clark even better than Ronnie.

      A nightwatchman for a number eight. There’s something I’ve never seen. Very peculiar. I’ll laugh my arse off if they get another wicket and Broad or Swann have to front up anyway.

  51. Nice work my namesake! Let’s get one more.

    • STUMPS 336/7 (90) On a lifeless pitch Australia toiled hard all day to snare seven wickets after England chose to bat. They did the damage mostly through the air with Hilfenhaus the most impressive swinging the ball in every session.

      England had a couple of chances to take the game away from Australia but they lost wickets at crucial times.

      In my opinion Australia won the key moments.

      It was still a very even contest with neither side really dominating. However, England’s inability to bury Australia when they had the chances may come back to bite before the last ball is bowled at The Oval.

      Time to find a pillow. Good Night.

  52. I’ve got honours even with a lot depending on whether England can raise 400 which will be a very good score. 350 is par I suspect.

    These bowlers are going to be shattered by the end of the Lord’s Test, unless Hauritz can be trusted to do his share.

  53. Advantage England for mine with first innings runs on the board. The two teams seem very evenly poised which should make for a great series. Positive from Hilfenhaus, MJ not at his best and will improve. Siddle interesting was a bit unlucky at times but bowled some 4 balls as well. He bowls all day and will not tire all Summer. Would have liked to have seen S Clark wobbling in as well. His smarts could be really useful in this kind of series and would actually be the tightest of all bowlers which is presumably one of Hauritzs claims to fame.
    Prior looked really good, KP is KP, Collingwood as annoyingly effective as l remember. Bopara unconvincing and Aussies would have liked what they saw there.

  54. Kev didnt disappoint me.

  55. Very finely poised, but I’d put England ahead by a nose. The pitch doesn’t look great for batting, and Katich and Ponting apart, Australia’s batting is no great shakes.

    One of Katich or Ponting will have to anchor the innings. You suspect Hussey’s cussedness will come through somehow, and Hughes is too unknown to be predictable. I think Clarke’s become a bit of a show pony – he scores too many runs in lost causes and manages to look elegant while being dismissed at crucial junctures a la Mohd Yousuf.

    Am very impressed by Hilfenhaus – I wanted him to play the test, as I think he’s perfetc for English conditions, and was pleasantly surprised when he did.

    I think the selection of Hauritz is an indictment of Ponting’s failings as a captain – he can’t seem to come up with a rabbit out of the hat, ever. Just because a spinner needs balance doesn’t mean you select any purveyor of filth, which Hauritz certainly is. Clark any day ahead of H.

    That said, Ricky certainly can paper over his captaincy failings with his batting brilliance. Can’t wait for day 2.

  56. Lends balance, I meant

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