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Misfiring Australia consider their options

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Oliver Brett | 10:51 UK time, Thursday, 23 July 2009

Kevin Pietersen's series-ending Achilles operation may have redressed the balance a little, but it is Australia who go into the third Ashes Test at Edgbaston needing to find a method of landing a counter-punch after going 1-0 down in the series.

Whether that method includes making changes to their line-up will be one of the most fascinating tableaus between now and 30 July, when Ricky Ponting and Andrew Strauss swap their team-sheets at the toss.

Besides naming Pietersen's replacement, most probably Ian Bell, and possibly recalling Steve Harmison for Graham Onions, England's position is straightforward, with Andrew Flintoff hopefully fit enough to play.

Australia, on the other hand, have a problem with a bowling attack that has failed to take 20 wickets in either concluded Test and looked a man light at times (there are four of them to England's five).

Ben Hilfenhaus, Peter Siddle and Nathan Hauritz have all had their moments, but to say spearhead Mitchell Johnson has been disappointing would be generous.

Ricky Ponting and Mitchell Johnson

Johnson, scourge of South Africa in Australia's impressive 2-1 series win over there in March, has been so lacking in accuracy there were times - particularly at Lord's - when it was tempting to check whether he was bowling with a blindfold on or not.

The official line doled out from within Cricket Australia is that the team played well in South Africa and Cardiff, that Lord's was an unwelcome blip, and that they will not be rushed into changes for the sake of it now.

One or two commentators take the view that Johnson (16 wickets at 25.00 in South Africa, but eight at 41.37 in this series) must be persevered with, come what may.

Former Australian captain Ian Chappell said on Test Match Special last week: "You can't really see Australia winning this series without Johnson being at his best."

And multiple Ashes winner Jason Gillespie told me during a break from his 5 Live duties: "I just think he's trying too hard, simple as. You don't lose your skills overnight, it doesn't happen. He hasn't been bowling his best - he'd be the first to acknowledge that, but put it down purely to a young bloke trying far too hard."

I also caught up with Andy Bichel, the former Australia fast bowler who played in the 2002-03 series.

He said Australia's bowlers collectively felt nervous at Lord's, and that Johnson felt extra pressure: "He's just come into the role of being a leader now and he's got to digest that. He needs a bit if sympathy. If he's bowling badly and still taking wickets he's probably OK."

But perhaps the most pertinent view came from England's James Anderson, who has scored a few runs off the bowler: "I can see he's thinking about his technique and action a lot, and if you're thinking about that in the middle it can have a detrimental effect on the way you bowl."

Australia's options are myriad. If the Edgbaston wicket starts damp, which may be the case given the groundsman's concerns on the issue, they could lose their specialist spinner Nathan Hauritz, and bring in a fourth seamer - perhaps Stuart Clark.
In some senses it seems remarkable that Clark, who was the leading wicket-taker in the 2006-07 Ashes and is still rated fourth in the world in the Test rankings, cannot get into the side at the moment.

However the word is that he has started to look like the 33-year-old bowler he is, has consequently lost a bit of pace, and is not the threat he was two years ago.

Bichel does not quite see it that way: "I did some work with Stuart before he came over here and he was looking really, really good and still has a big future in this Test series.

"We are going to need more than three [seam] bowlers in this Test series. I am enjoying the loyalty to the players who have done it just recently but they are going to need [Clark] at some stage. He's a good bowler, we've seen what he's done. He'll find his way into this series somewhere."

Gillespie says Clark will "definitely come into the reckoning", not least because of the injury cloud hanging over Shane Watson and Brett Lee.

The balance of Australia's squad has led to plenty of anxiety down under. One former Test player, Rodney Hogg, called it "probably the worst-balanced squad in the history of the Ashes".

One alarming characteristic is there is no obvious spare batsman, although Shane Watson - despite holding a Test average of 19.76 - is officially in the squad more for his batting than his bowling.

Having recovered from a thigh injury, Watson will look to have a big game in the tour match starting on Friday in Northampton, and notion has been aired that he could yet replace the struggling Phillip Hughes as the Test opener - however strange that may appear.

By doing that, Australia would beef up their seam-bowling resources - but at what cost to their batting? It might be seriously tough on the number six Marcus North for him to be dropped for Watson, given that North made a century at Cardiff. But it would be a more logical step.

What Australia really need right now is Brett Lee, given how brilliantly he bowled against the Lions. But the side injury that developed during that game and consequently ruled him out of the first two Tests has refused to go away.

It is unlikely that he will bowl at Northampton, which suggests Edgbaston will also come too soon - and there are very real fears he will play no part at all in the Ashes.

No Lee v Pietersen to look forward to in the remaining three Tests? That might be a slight dampener for some, but as this Ashes reaches its fulcrum there are plenty of other mouth-watering duels to look forward to.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Interesting summary, not sure about 'tableaus' (tableaux?) and 'fulcrum' though - did you include them for a bet?!

  • Comment number 2.

    i think watson should replace north and clark should replace siddle or hauritz for test 3

  • Comment number 3.

    And I think the Aussie Stud needs to be a bit more realistic with his title name. Maybe 2011 Ashes winners...2009 belongs to England.

  • Comment number 4.

    If Johnson goes back to his old action he should be fine.

    In trying to get his arm lower in an attempt to swing he has lost out on that awkward bounce which has always been his strength and with this new action he is hardly getting swing either.

    It is always something to see coaches changing actions and in the end making the bowler less effective!

  • Comment number 5.

    $get about the Aussies I just wanna see Harmy back in for Onions and Bell obviouslyin at 3 moving Bopara down to 4.

  • Comment number 6.

    Bring back McGrath & Warne!!
    That would guarantee the Ashes staying in Australia....

  • Comment number 7.

    THis is the second Ashes article that I have read this morning (Selvey's in the Guardian was t'other) that shoe horns in a slightly tenuous mention of a 'fulcrum'.

    Maybe there is a bet going on in the press box (so to speak).

  • Comment number 8.

    Of course England can beat Australia without Pietersen. In 2005, though he came good at the Oval (where the match was drawn) and in the First Test (which England lost) where was he in the matches that England actually won?
    The absence of Flintoff would be a bigger worry, which is why it's important that we have Harmison bowling well and in the right frame of mind. Of the others, Swann can play a major part, but I really would go for Onions rather than Broad, as I think he can pose the more consistent threat.

  • Comment number 9.

    I do see many commenting on Onions but what has Broad done to be in the side?

  • Comment number 10.

    One of the problems the Aussies have is that they have a total of one bowler in their squad with test match experience in England, and he has been unfit so far. I remember a lot of talk about Dale Steyn building up to last years series with South Africa, I think one of the issues is that it sometimes takes a tour to get used to English conditions, added to the worldwide problem of not having enough preparation building up to tests, a big problem for quick bowlers.

    So the Aussies are left with little or no option about now. Either coming back to fitness bowlers, maybe on the back of 1 county game, or keeping things pretty much the same. I think the Watson for North call would strengthen the bowling, and given the batting has looked reasonably sound seems a decent decision. Not sure the Aussies will do it though, they seem to be fixated with a 6-4 batting-bowling balance. Problem with that is the bowling can look very thing if one of the 4 is a spinner and all 3 quick bowlers are not firing perfectly.

    By the way, anyone else pleased KP isn't captain of the England team still? Then we would be in a whole with him being out. But overall I think England's selection problems pail into insignificance with the Aussies for Edgbaston.

  • Comment number 11.

    It would be ridiculous for Australia to drop Johnson on the back of these two tests, just as it would be too knee-jerk for England to drop Broad.

    Johnson's bowling has been under-par, no doubt, but he has still taken eight wickets.

    Something must change for the Aussies though and with the Edgbaston wicket looking a moist 'un, surely Hauritz is the one who should go.

    England will miss Pietersen, but it is not the end of the world, as he has contributed little to the series so far.

    His departure puts more pressure on Bopara and Bell, who are probably England's two most naturally talented batsmen.

    http://sportingchameleon.wordpress.com/

  • Comment number 12.

    I cant believe the English. They win 1 test, yes 1 test and they start analysing the oppositions weaknesses. Please dont mention the fact that England were crushed in the 1st test.Fortunately, a flat wicket and rain delays made Englands job alot easier. Now you all call for a Knighthood for Freddie! Unbelievable!

  • Comment number 13.

    If the aussies drop an opener I think it is a lot more likely that Mike Hussey will step up rather than Watson. Watson can then slot in at 6 as the rest shuffle up.

  • Comment number 14.

    the pitch for test 3 is meant to very moist so isnt likely to suit a spinner

    Hughes
    Katich
    Punter
    Hussey
    Clarko
    North / Watson
    Haddin
    Johnson
    Siddle /Hauritz
    Clark
    Hiffy

    if the pitch doens change then hauritz is likely to to miss out

    north and watson will be competing for number 6 and both play in tour match

  • Comment number 15.

    ChrisDownUnder - the article quotes Gillespie, Bichel and Chappel talking about the Australian bowling attack - these people aren't English?

    Where in the article does it mention Flintoff getting knighthood?

  • Comment number 16.

    A bit bemused by the panic in the Aussie camp. No real need for it in my opinion. Like Chappell and Bichel, I agree that they need to perservere with Johnson, and perhaps if Clark was brought back for Hauritz he may be able to take the role of leader of the attack that Johnson has not been able to.
    First test is not so long ago and we do not need to be discounting the Aussies just yet.
    No fear about Bell warranting a recall. I actually believe that he will bat well the rest of this series and England will continue to score well off the Oz attack. More concerned about the bowling. Broad not looking penetrative enough and Anderson as ever so reliant on the conditions to take wickets. No Fred no England attack.
    Edgbaston pitch to be slow run fest as both sides feast on under peforming bowlers. Draw. England to be one up with two to play.

  • Comment number 17.

    It is knee jerk to drop Broad? I thought Brod averages 40 to Johnson's 28.

    I thought Anderson bowled ok in the second innings but without any luck. The scorecards don't always tell the true story.

  • Comment number 18.

    Australia certainly do look a bit bereft in the bowling department. Hilfenhaus and Howritz look ok, but Siddle and in-particular Johnson look a bit toothless. It is difficult to understand Johnson, he was brilliant for the Aussies in South Africa with bat and bowl, but he has looked way off the mark so far. I think they should play him again no-doubt he will have been stung by the criticism he has received, as I envisage the whole Aussie squad will have done too. Edgbaston will be interesting!

    http://jumpersforgoalposts1212.wordpress.com/2009/07/22/fans-unite-to-save-our-clubs/

  • Comment number 19.

    I think Watson has to come in for North, that's the only change I see. I'ld love Clark to play as well-If that was the case, then I'ld turn Watson into a batsman and sacrifice Hughes, coz Watson hit a century vs Pakistan this year opening the batting. Then I'ld shuffle the batting order and include Clark.

  • Comment number 20.


    If Edgbaston starts damp and then dries out, either side would bitterly regret not picking a spinner. Australia dropping Nathan Hauritz would be absolute lunacy to my mind. He was hounded prior to Cardiff, shut a lot of critics up during that game, dislocated a finger at Lords and still bowled better than just about anyone else in a Baggy Green during that match. Why would you drop one of the few Australian successes on this tour in order to bring in the like of Clark (still working his way back) or a struggling for fitness Lee?

    Personally I think the Australians would do better to look for a five man attack. We saw in the fourth innings at Lords that they can score serious runs. Finally people are taking Brad Haddin seriously as a batsman (some of the forum comment describing him as rubbish prior to the Ashes was laughable). Michael Clarke has just played the innings that finally makes him a really good player in my book and, whatever the result of this Ashes series, I suspect Ponting will stand down as captai nin September and Clarke will take that position. Hussey's looked in better form, Katich isn't too bad, Ponting is Ponting... the batting isn't as much of a worry as the bowling. Johnson does need to be persevered with and I would bring Stuart Clark back. He has plenty of English experience through his county stints and having a man of his undoubted accuracy might relieve a little pressure on Johnson if he goes for a few.

    I would drop Phil Hughes. He clearly has talent but right now I believe going in with Katich and Hussey opening allowing you to bring in the extra bowler would do more to reinforce Australia than hoping Hughes will come good. He's contributed the least of all the top order this summer, has some clear technical flaws he needs to work on, and I don't see any problem in dropping him. He will come back but right now others are worth more to the Australian cause.

    Shane Watson coming in... a joke, right? He looked totally uncomfortable with his latent revised bowling action at the World T20. Watching him at Cardiff warming up, he didn't look anywhere near ready to act as a serious first change seamer. I see no reason to bring Watson to act as a first-change seamer and opener when at present he can't fulfill one of those roles, let alone two.

  • Comment number 21.

    Who would be a selector? Australia's must be feeling the need to shake the bowling up, but the one who has underperformed the most is the same guy who would prove their biggest match-winner when at his best. They must be desperate for Lee to prove his fitness before this series is over.

    Clark would appear to be a tempting option as well, if Edgbaston isn't going to be condusive to spin then Hauritz might make way for him - but that would make the bowling attack terribly one dimensional, I wouldn't rely on North and Clarke to provide a different threat.

    As for England, Pietersen is a huge loss, regardless of the feel good factor after the 2nd test - he's been averaging 38 on one leg, 50 overall against Australia and he was the top runs scorer from either team in 2005. Furthermore, the possible replacements are not terribly convincing, Bell? Key?! Or a test rookie?!
    If an bowler gets injured, Harmison, Panesar, Sidebottom, & Rashid are waiting in the wings.

    I'm surprised some people are talking about dropping Onions, I thought he played his part and got amongst the wickets in the 2nd test, if Harmison's Durham/Lions form means he's forcing his way back in, I'd be more inclined to drop Broad, unless Flintoff or Onions don't recover from injury of course.

    I predicted England would narrowly win this series on account of their superior bowling attack, I'm sticking with that.

  • Comment number 22.

    I think it would be wrong to drop Onions, the guy's taken wickets and done all that was asked of him. If he's injured and can't play, fair enough. Otherwise only Broad should be considered droppable.

    I'm no great fan of Bell but i'd give him a go at 3, Bopara at 4 otherwise they just seem the wrong way round. Shame Collingwood can't bat three, that would solve our problems i'd think.
    The last thing we want is lots of changes to the side

  • Comment number 23.

    As an Englishman i'd really like to see Australia drop Hauritz, going in without a spinner is madness unless you're playing someone truely useless at Durham in april/May. Otherwise, play a spinner.
    So I hope the Aussies don't

  • Comment number 24.

    Re 12

    Of course England are getting carried away so would you. Lets face it England arn't the team they were 4 years ago but you would be the same in our shoes.

    I notice the comment bring back warne and mcgrath kinda sums it up really, you do have selection issues, its called trying to pick a team that can beat england which you aint managed so far this summer!!!!!!

  • Comment number 25.

    England have an obvious choice you ar right. Bell has been in the squad so there will be no integration problems and despite people insisting on pointing out his 'career' average against the Aussies being around 20 that is based on only two series, one of which he underperformed in a winning side and the second where he did well in a pathertic one. He still averages 40 in tests, he is still capable of batting for a long time and making hundreds against good bowlers and this series has already shown that discipline rather than shotmaking will win this series.

    That should be it. Onions did OK, no better and Broad has looked a bit shaky but neithr deserves to be dropped at this stage. With five bowlers England can afford to have Broad in the bowling lineup, with only six batsmen they NEED him at #8 as well and he outclasses most otehr bowlers in the field too. Bringing in Harmison is a gamble, one that might do for the aussies if he bowls well but also one that could backfire badly with both ball and bat. Also with back to back tests coming up there is no time to regroup if it goes wrong.

    I would stick with the bowlers as long as reddie is fit for the third test. If they win then brilliant, if not then think about Harmison for the 4th and 5th.

    The Aussies have problems everywhere frankly. I would keep Hughes, he is struggling but is a good classy player and frankly I dont see anyone doing any better at the top of the order at this time. Watson coming in would provide more balance to the side, I think now it has been proven that four bowlers cant work anymore in test cricket unless the pitches are bowler friendly you really do need a capable all rounder. England have Prior, Flintoff, Broad and Swann who can all betwen then do that job, The aussies have at the moment no-one. In an ideal world you would bring in Lee and Clark which would take the pressure off of Johnson, keep Hilf who has been the best so far and drop the unlucky Siddle and unfortunate Hauritz. I knwo many would decry not playing a spinner but pretty much all his wickets have been from poor shots rather than good bowling.

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    No.2 "i think watson should replace north and clark should replace siddle or hauritz for test 3"

    ---my view---> Yes, I think despite North getting that ton in Cardiff he has been pretty inconsistent of late and struggled through Lord's. Watson should come in for him, not Hughes - who could really destroy England's attack on his day, and that would be worth waiting for. But Hauritz I think should be kept. As No.20 and No.23 say - you always need a spinner because of how a pitch can develop over five days, so I guess Siddle would be the one to miss out if Clark comes in (assuming they're hell-bent on keeping Mitch).


    no.10 - it's an excellent point you make about the lack of experience, which is why Lee's absence is such a major blow for the Aussie bowlers. Since I write this it has been confirmed Lee will miss Northampton, and by extension is likely to miss Edgbaston too. With Headingley starting so soon after the third Test it likes Lee might only play at The Oval at best.

    Thanks for the comments, and by the way "tableau" - which has an eligible plural of "tableaus" in English is "striking incidental scene" which will do me... I think it's a word that should be used more often!

  • Comment number 28.

    there are a lot of selection dilemas for both sides... but for England as this is the last test series for Freddie he will surely play irrespective of his fitness. he will be passed fit even though he is not!! KP is out so bell should come in if they select people on current form and not previous series' statistics. drop broad and bring in Harmy he might do well in this series. the English team should be
    1.Strauss
    2.Cook
    3.Bell
    4.Bopara
    5.colly
    6.prior
    7.Freddy
    8.Onions(if he is fit)/Sidebottom
    9.Swann
    10.Anderson
    11.Harmison

    and the Aussies they are having a head ache with their premier bowler in the last series. We would like to see the Johnson who broke the fingers of Smith and injured Kallis inorder for the aussies to win the series and retain the ashes. Its only one win for the poms and every one are thinking that they won the series ....lets expect an aussie backlash i expect the team to be
    1.Hussey
    2.Katich
    3.ponting
    4.Clarke
    5.North
    6.Watson
    7.Haddin
    8.Johnson
    9.Hauritz
    10.Siddle/clark
    11.Hiffy

  • Comment number 29.

    Hackerjack:

    You'd drop Hauritz because he got wickets from poor shots rather than great balls? That seems rather bizarre to me. I can't imagine anyone dropping a batsman because a certain percentage of his runs came from bad balls rather than decent balls he made into boundaries. The simple fact is that Hauritz has taken 9 wickets and has the lowest average of any bowler on either side, despite pretty much missing an innings worth of bowling due to his dislocated finger. Australia have made some very strange choices when it comes to the spin department in the post-Warne era and to drop a man when he is bowling well and taking wickets would be a huge blow to Hauritz's confidence. I'd also dispute your notion of his wickets coming from poor shots rather than good bowling. The two dismissals of Strauss and Prior at Cardiff during the second innings were superb. Neither of the English spinners got turn and bounce yet Hauritz did. That shows some ability with the ball. I don't see how dropping someone who is in form for the like of Clark (form unknown), Lee (form unknown after injury) or Watson (ability to make it through a Test match unknown) strengthens the side in any way.

  • Comment number 30.

    I agree with this analysis, Ponting needs to balance batting with bowling, at the moment as strange as it seems I would actually argue they are lacking in the bowling side. My choice would be Brett Lee but with him injured there's nothing they can do... ideally they want someone swingy to break up the batting and cause chaos. The problem is they might risk pricing themselves out, if they drop the spin bowling totally and edgbaston clears up... could get messy.

    Bell I have always sympathised, he is a great player, quality player. Someone just needs to give him a pep talk, get him to chill out and go composed rather than lashing around his head on ball no. 2 trying to hook 6s. If he plays like a wall he is a seriously good batsman.

    As for switching in Harmison, I think it smells too much of hoping for something special. He haven't seen him play for a while, the last time we did he had dropped from being among the best in the world to just being plain shoddy. IF harmison is back on form yes... but at the moment I am preferring the idea of keeping the guys who are still slightly scared in - its the newer people who will keep the team afloat in the longer run.

  • Comment number 31.

    Cult of the KP and Flinty, just like football and Beckham.

    Always relying on one top player, and KP is imported from south Africa, not even home grown as well as Straussy from South Africa.Who will be the next england captain, home grown names only. You see the dearth already.

    Flowers thinks Engerrland can win without the the famous two, wait and see on that one.I doubt it Punter wants the ashes wi in England badly, he will do it.

    Ha !!

  • Comment number 32.

    If i was australia i would bring in a seamer for north, it seems a bit harsh on him but you cant pick a team on who deserves to be there, but on the best team to win the match. I think there batting would be strong enough with haddin at 6, johnson at 7 and hauritz at 8, altho if lee was fit it would work even better for them.

  • Comment number 33.

    You have to feel sorry for Hauritz - when he does get wickets he gets criticized because they aren't 'amazing' deliveries and when he doesn't get wickets everyone feels the need to point out thats he not Warney!

    After watching some of the South Africa home test against the Aussies and i do think that Hillfy has looked a much better bowler and has defiantly warranted his place in the team so far. As for Johnson - you don't spearhead the Aussie attack in South Africa, take a shed load of wickets and make an ton of runs and then the next series you play in have a bit of wobble and become a scapegoat for the whole team! He bowled a lot of overs over the winter and then had a pretty long break and these are his first few test matches since then so i think he'll come good in the long run!

    As for who will replace KP i think it will go to Bell but i would prefer to see Shah get it mainly because he hasn't been given a long run in the team yet!

  • Comment number 34.

    The usual interesting blog, thanks Oliver. As an Aussie fan I am very concerned that they could fall apart in at least one of the next two tests. My concern is not just with the quality of the top 6 in ENGLISH conditions. Katich, Ponting and Clarke have the experience of the swinging or short pitched bowling of Anderson/Flintoff but Hughes is too early in his test career to adjust in the heat of the series. Hussey is totally out of form but there's no one to replace him. The real problem is that Ponting does not inspire the team like Taylor or Waugh so these problems are just getting worse and worse. A captain needs to help his side through these problems but with his lack of ability as a leader the side is falling in a heap. I now see this series ending up 2-0 or 3-0 and Ponting getting sacked.

  • Comment number 35.

    If Stuart Clark performs in the tour match you have to pick him. We're not going to drop Johnson so he's the perfect foil. I think Lee would be a straight swap for Johnson if they went that way as both very similar- at their best devastating, at their worst really struggling for direction and expensive.

    I think Clark in for Siddle who's a real workhorse but doesn't look like taking a bag of wickets which Clark can provide. If they want a 5th bowler, not one person has mentioned McDonald who performed an exceptional role in South Africa. Watson has potential but has been in the 'potential' category for years and keeps breaking down. I'd be comfortable with dropping North, Haddin at 6 with McDonald/Johnson 7 and 8 (either order of batting).

    No way you can drop Hauritz! If Johnson doesn't perform this match, out for Lee next test. but might be too late by then.....

  • Comment number 36.

    Summerbayexile:

    Whatever the outcome of this Ashes series, I'm convinced it'll be Ricky Ponting's final series in charge. Lords was notable because Michael Clarke, the heir to the captaincy throne, really stamped his mark on that game in the second innings. Punter was a bit of a grumpy chap during the Test, dropped that catch, didn't get heavy runs, and generally didn't have the best of times but Pup came right to the party. He batted superbly, in essence a real captain's knock.

    Ponting should relinquish the captaincy and spend his final years in Test cricket chasing runs like mad. He's done incredibly to score as heavily as he has and cope with captaincy as well. Imagine how well he could play without the captaincy around his neck and with him fully concentrating on the willow.

  • Comment number 37.

    Strauss
    Cook
    Bell
    Bopara
    Collingwood
    Prior
    Flintoff
    Swann
    Anderson
    Harmison
    Onions

  • Comment number 38.

    Just get Johnson to get th'arm over never mind "leg over " Aggers!

  • Comment number 39.

    Remember when Oz were playing the lions and Ponting threw his toys out the pram cos Brett was joshing with the crowd? Lee didn't really have time to warm up properly - how much could that have contributed to the rib injury.

  • Comment number 40.

    The Aussies have lost that means that they are going to hit us like a ton of bricks. Harmison for Flintoff. Flintoff is too unfit to deal with the Aussies from now on.

  • Comment number 41.

    Andrew Symonds, all is forgiven?

  • Comment number 42.

    u need broad in order to have a more balanced side as his batting is decent and to have him at eight is a good thing to have. he is like johnson in that he is a young bowler who will develop as he gathers more experience and then he will produce the goods on a regular basis. i would play harmison instead of onions as the aussies are more scared of him, onions is only effective really when there is swing and since he doesnt even take the new ball, it seems a waste to lay him. andersen and flintoff is an awesome new ball partnership.

    the aussies need to leave watson out and give hughes a chance, u have to be a good player to hit two centuries against south africa, he just needs to adapt to the bounce that flintoff provides. watson could easily get injured in the match knowing his problems. stuart clark should come in for siddle as he has experience and siddle is not taking the wickets he needs to be an out and out bowler. if brett lee is fully fit, i would play him ahead of clark but that seems unlikely. keep hauritz as a spinner is always useful and johnson needs another go as he has just had a bad last two games.

    Teams:
    AUS
    Hughes
    Katich
    Ponting (c)
    Hussey
    Clarke (v)
    North
    Haddin (w)
    Johnson
    Hauritz
    Clark
    Hilfenhaus

    ENG
    Strauss (c)
    Cook (v)
    Bopara
    Bell
    Collingwood
    Prior (w)
    Flintoff
    Broad
    Swann
    Andersen
    Harmison

  • Comment number 43.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 44.

    Little harsh to say KP has "contributed little to the series so far"... Ashes averages so far for the batters:

    Strauss : 60
    Collingwood : 52
    KP : 38.25
    Cook : 35.75
    Bopara : 20.25

    And that despite being lame. He'll be missed both in terms of runs and his attitude in the dressing room.

    Big loss I'd say.

  • Comment number 45.

    Suppose Freddie's knee gives out IN THE MIDDLE of a test match? That's why we need the in-form Harmison back in. Either Broad or Onions must give way; Broad's batting might get him the nod, but of the two, Onions is the one who's shown he's capable of putting in a match-winning performance in a test match - despite the fact he's played only three matches compared to Broad's many.

  • Comment number 46.

    eccles 45 (39) - You win the prize for star comment, Yes I DO remember that spell, one of lethal fast reverse swing, a sustained spell when Lee had not had enough time to recover from his previous one, and as you very well point out was perhaps not fully warmed up. I remember thinking at the time it was a bit dangerous - and am sure that must have played a part in the injury.

  • Comment number 47.

    Guys and girls, there won't even be a third test, here's the proof http://uk.weather.com/weather/10day-Dumbarton-UKXX0663

    And what play there will be certainly won't entertain the idea of a spinner for crizzy sakes

    Aust. will go into the fourth test trailing 1-0 which will make things enthralling to say the least

  • Comment number 48.

    Oliver - play was held up while Lee did a few leg stretches, windmill arms, toe touching etc. But I'm sure that his muscles would not have been relaxed enough, bearing in mind how he then bowled. Remember also he was pretty mad as well - Ponting's man-management skills were at a low that session :-)

  • Comment number 49.

    I take that back - http://uk.weather.com/weather/10day-Birmingham-UKXX0018

    But you get the picture, Edgbaston will be shrouded in drizzle so I got one thing right at least - no need for a spinner

  • Comment number 50.

    haha - thanks Eccles, for correcting that. A Test on the west coast of Scotland is not on the agenda yet, but give the ECB time...

  • Comment number 51.

    @grattanmc

    The weather at the moment is so cotton-pickin' unsettled that you can't rely on 3-day forecasts, let alone 10-dayers. I speak as one whose husband is stuck on the SW corner of Ireland, trying to sail his way homewards. Atlantic charts impossible to read - I blame the Americans !

  • Comment number 52.

    Grattanmc:

    Cardiff, a land of rain and dampness, saw an Aussie slow bowler look as good as anyone out there.

    Lords, a pitch and atmosphere that suited seamers with a bit of damp around, also suited the spin bowlers, both of whom bowled well in the second innings for their respective sides.

    Any English spinner worth his salt is going to be used to bowling with a bit of drizzle around. Indeed, you could say they're more used to that and how to bowl on those wickets than they are on a Mohali-style dustbowl.

  • Comment number 53.

    I think they should stick with Johnson, and I agree that Hughes should go. England have clearly worked him out and he will continue to not score many runs. Hussey scored a lot of runs in England as an opener when in county cricket and although he hasnt been in good form, I still think hes better suited than Hughes. I think Haddin has proved hes more than capable to bat at 6 so i think Watson in at 7 would be a good shout. It does however make you wonder how much better off they would be Symonds in their side. Im happy though! I think Siddle, Hilfenhaus and Hauritz all deserve to stay in the side so there is still no room for Clark for me.

    As for England, why has noone mentioned Rob Key? ton and 270 in back to back games for Kent and he has proved before that he is a big game player. Remember down under 2003? He was the only batsmen who show fight against the Aussies. Has a double ton for england as well batting at 3. I still doubt whether Bell has the mentality for Test cricket, as I am now doubting Bopara has. I think Key 3, Ravi 4 for me for at Edgbaston. Broad out, Harmy in as well. Broad been poor with ball in this series, Harmy taking wickets for fun

  • Comment number 54.

    maybe johnson could get a start for the aussies ladies team

  • Comment number 55.

    Reading these responses I can't believe there's still cricket fans out there who really think that weather forecasters have the ability to predict the exact weather over a cricket ground over a five day period.

    How many Tests do you have to watch to learn the truth?!




  • Comment number 56.

    I really don't think the aussies should panic - but happy if they do!

    As for us Bell is probably best placed due to experience to replace Peitersen and like to see Harmy in there - maybe for broad or onions. Only one spinner needed.

  • Comment number 57.

    There are many straws in the wind. I think the dust will settle down after the Northants game.
    # 42 daveythepredictor
    Comes closest to what I think will be the two teams. My changes are for North to be replaced by Shane Watson and Harmy to come in only if Onions is not fit. For Australia, there is as much need to stick with Hughes as with Johnson. Both can be match winners on their day.
    I think Flinty's fifth day morning's bowling exhibition at Lords was of a piece by itself, exceptional and fearsome enough to set off some panic buttons in the Aussie camp. Demoralising pace with accuracy.
    # 41 hunterSWestHam
    'Andrew Symonds, all is forgiven?' You are making the mistake of equating CA with PCB, though the situation is dire indeed.
    # 45 shiverschanders
    'Suppose Freddie's knee gives out IN THE MIDDLE of a test match? That's why we need the in-form Harmison back in'.
    It has to be the worst nihgtmare for most England fans, the knee or the knees giving out. A valid thought, but the insurance you suggest is a touch ersatz. We must hope if there is any breaking down its not IN THE MIDDLE.

  • Comment number 58.

    Considering the current form shown by the players and the squad available, the Australians should included seamer Stuart Clark at any cost in the third test to be played at Edgbaston. Known for his accurate bowling, Clark not playing in the first two tests is hard to understand and he should be drafted in for probably Peter Siddle. Although Johnson was the most disappointing of their bowlers so far, it would be difficult for Ponting and the selectors to leave him out as they know he has the quality of a potential match-winner, which the vistors badly need trailing one nil in the series. Making this decision would be tough for the Aussie think-tank but according to me they should make only one change and should not tinker with the batting line-up, who have hardly played to their potential. The Aussie fielding too needs to be sharpened and they can come up with some better field placements for the England batsmen.

  • Comment number 59.

    Australia are currently suffering from this desire to stick with just 4 bowlers. This was fine with an attack of McGrath, Lee, Gillespie and Warne, but not this one. Without a "gamble" to include a fifth bowler, Australia are going to struggle.
    As for England, well, if Ian Bell is the answer, I'm not sure what the question was. He is too brittle mentally to be a factor this summer. In a 4 year test career, I'm struggling to remember a match-winning performance. I'm sure I read last year that all his centuries were made after somebody else had scored one first. A bit like Marcus North really, who looked better at 350-4 than he did at 120-4!
    This is the ideal time for Harmison to play. He hates touring and needs games so playing him in the 2nd half of the season is ideal. What shouldn't happen is to take him on tour, play in 1 warm-up game and then be surprised when he doesn't bowl well in the 1st test! See every tour since 2004 for the evidence. He is currently in great form as he was at the tail-end of last year and must play.

  • Comment number 60.

    England should entirely forget about Ravi Bopara, he hasn't been playing well, and I can't see that changing any time soon. Bring Bell in for Pietersen at no.4, just behind Rob Key at no.3 for Bopara.

  • Comment number 61.

    Sevenseaman, I wasn't only thinking of Harmy for insurance purposes: I don't think England will beat Australia by relying on the moving ball alone - as Freddie showed, a bit of good old pace and aggression, and they're a much less assured side. They don't like it up 'em, in other words. We know that from four years ago. Having struck on that formula, it'd be daft not to make it more potent with another bowler of the same pace. I'm as exasperated by Harmy's record as anyone else, the fact remains that when on form, he can dish out the same treatment as Freddie (it was his bowling on that first morning four years ago that set the tone for the series, remember). In fairness to him, his disappointing form abroad is because he's a rhythm bowler, just like John Snow - and on every tour he's been on, he simply hasn't had enough cricket before the test matches have started. Once you go into a test match underprepared or in the wrong frame of mind, your bowling will suffer. Look at Mitchell Johnson here. Whether it's due to him not being entirely uncomfortable with his action, or whether it's the other stuff going on in his life, only he will know. I do know that when people tried to talk Graham Dilley into altering his action in order to be able to swing the ball away from right-handers, it destroyed his rhythm and confidence for years, and for the sake of Johnson, I hope the same thing has not happened because people have said that he must be able to bowl the right-hander's inswinger.

  • Comment number 62.

    Stuff the 'balance' of the team,Harmison must play to counteract the loss of Pieterson.
    All the Aussie media are dreading Harmy being selected, he's got in the head of many an Aussie batsman, Fred from end and Harmy from tother pure heaven

  • Comment number 63.

    As this blog seems to have as many comments on England now as Australia, I have to say I think it would be a backward step to bring Harmison into a winning side. I appreciate he has bowled extremely well for Durham, but his team-mate Onions has done nothing wrong for his country and does not deserve being dropped at this stage. Also, the wicket at Edgbaston will be hopeless for Harmison, lacking in pace. If this match was at Old Trafford or The Oval he might have had a chance, but really not here - and probably not Headingley either, unless there is finally a spell of sustained dry weather.

  • Comment number 64.

    Hughes out. Hussey up to open with Katich. And let's hope Hussey finally is in front of an umpire with a decent pair of glasses...as he seems to be given out incorrectly more often than anyone over the last year. lol. A lot of his dip in form has been the extraordinary ability to be involved in umpiring errors.

    Clarke in to shore up the bowling...can't believe he hasn't been in from the first test. Gamble on Johnson scoring runs as he usually does.

    It's not the batting that is the problem, it's the bowling.

    God I hope they don't bring Watson in either. The man struggles to ride an escalator without breaking his hip, I don't have faith he would make it through 5 solid days of test cricket.

    I'm sorry for him, but I wish the selectors would accept the reality regarding his fragile body and stop including him in squads. Let him play a year or two of domestic cricket without serious injury and then have another look at him. IF he manages that.

    Johnson is still the man for me. I back him to come good in the 3rd test. Whatever rubbish they have done to his action, undo it, and if Clarke is included in the squad he can act as leader of the bowling unit, on the basis of his age and experience, taking the pressure off Johnson.

    Clearly Johnson is a more delicate beast than appeared when he was mauling the South Africans. He needs to be managed appropriately till he matures more. And if Clarke can tie down one end with his McGrath impersonation, not only will he take wickets, but he will free Johnson up to bowl hand grenades with the 4 ball's inbetween not such a big killer.

    Good luck to both teams. Next Thursday seems so damn far away -.- lol

  • Comment number 65.

    The victory does not camouflage the fact that aside from Flintoffs superhuman efforts England could not bowl out Australia. Flintoff may well be fit enough to play the rest of the series but surely the time has come for the selectors to stop being mental and drop Broad and tell him to learn his trade in county cr'icket for a couple of years.

    Bring back Harmison (genuine test strike bowler, feared by the aussies and who dramatically changed the feel of our attack against SA last summer allowing us to beat a strong side for the first time since we beat Pakistan which was also thanks to Harmison)

    Broad served us well against WI and NZ but this is the real deal with three to go and then SA.
    Bring back Harmison and look after him this time and keep him lean. Every other nation is staggered at the treatment of Englands best talent.

    Also Hoggard or Sidebottom should come in for Onions. Who cares if Hoggard has lost a yard of pace. He is only behind Harmison and Onions in the county championship this summer and would be vital in SA this summer.
    Although Onions should go to SA but Broad should not.


  • Comment number 66.

    Taking the old 'what would England least like to see at Edgbaston', I'd say we'd still be worried by the depth of Aus batting even if they lost one specialist; we'd like to see Hughes remain but still worried about what happens if he gets going, and we'd be worried if Aus played 5 bowlers. I reckon we'd also like to see Johnson sidelined, and would rather face Lee whose record is mediocre in England than Clark, who's got the reputation as a mini-McGrath.

    So I'd be most concerned if they dropped North for Watson and added Clark for Siddle. Therefore I think thats what they should do, at least from their point of view.

    Bell HAS to play 5 or 6, its where he excels technically and temperamentally, Colly at 4 and Prior at 5.

  • Comment number 67.

    Personally my best England XI is as follows (no injuries assumed)

    Strauss
    Cook
    Bell
    Pieterson (Would replace with Key)
    Collingwood
    Prior
    Flintoff
    Swann
    Harmison
    Anderson
    Sidebottom

    Let's be honest Onions isn't Test quality, and should not be getting an extended run in the Ashes; This is the pinnacle of sport and he is geting a free ride.

    Broad - potential (still), but has held a place in the last 18 months due to his batting providing depth, but with Prior, Flintoff and Swann in the side our batting is deep enough. Broad is a very defensive pick in this context. We need wickets quicker. It is not about ruthlessness, but having quality to polish sides off quickly. The Windies series showed this. When Flintoff retires Broad will be in the team for a long time, but he should wait for three weeks.

    Harmy took them apart in the warm up game, and in county cricket is averaging about 10 over the the last couple of months. Do you think the Aussies would drop him?

    Before Siders got injured he was by far our best bowler and had risen to world number 4! Aded to that he is taking wickets, and in the T20 world cup was our best bowler. Not clear why he isn't playing, but got to be the most unlucky player not in the side. At least the others have had poor runs of form to explain their abscence. How is Onions ahead of him?

    Originally I thought Bopara was a decent one one day player who got bat with a bit of flair and decent bowl - Now he is Test No 3! - Rubbish, long term replacement for Colly.

    And how come Key never gets a look in - His last test match for england he got a double ton, goes back to the counties, scores loads of runs, generally considered the best captain in the game (Strauss could do with some steady advice on the field) yet he doesn't get a look in.

  • Comment number 68.

    Re 25, I fail to see how England NEED Broad to bat at 8. You say with 5 bowlers we can afford to have him in the bowling line up, but if he isnt taking wickets or being economical (which he isnt) then surely we can 'afford' to play an extra batsmen and drop him, especially as Colly and Bopara can do a job. Further, with Swann perfectly capable of batting 8 (he is better than Giles, who batted there for years), and Anderson ever improving. With Flintoff and Swann capable batsmen, we do not NEED to play him - play your best bowlers.

    When you pick someone because they have potential with bat and ball, they generally only do one, and rarely do both.

    Flintoff and Anderson opening with the Durham combination of Harmison and Onions as first change looks far more solid to me.

    Strauss
    Cook
    Bell
    Bopara
    Collingwood
    Prior
    Flintoff
    Swann
    Anderson
    Harmison
    Onions

  • Comment number 69.

    It is vital that the Aussies get it right. An English victory in the series and the nauseating self-adulation that will follow will be too much to stomach. I recall the poms coming close to beating the All Blacks once and they did a lap around the field.It still makes me want to puke. Can you imagine if they beat the Aussies after their 5 nil drubbing !!??

  • Comment number 70.

    All a bit OTT. Aussies lost by 115 runs, but if it had been umpired correctly they probably would've won, or at least got within a whisker!

    I'd say bring in Watson for North depending on what happens at Northampton, and then bring in Clarke for Hauritz if the pitch isn't spin friendly.

    Nothing drastic. Keep Hughes in. Keep Mitchell in. Let them man up and get the job done.

  • Comment number 71.

    MrMahatma

    You must want England to win badly...bring in Watson? The guy will be off the field half the time nursing the injury he will sustain in the afternoon of day 1. lol.

    And then we'll have the unsporting revolving door of subs that England have operated for a few years. I think it's about time rules were strengthened in this regard. Not as if the batsmen can go off for a few overs and get a quick massage, change their jocks, review a bit of tape and have a chat to the batting coach every 15 or 20 runs.

    Only person I would remove would be Hughes (he's been found out and needs to go away and sort out his weaknesses for a bit). Hussey up to open. Clarke in.

    Easy.

    ;)

  • Comment number 72.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/hi/front_page/newsid_10000000/newsid_10000500/10000546.stm

    Oh dear...what if that is true? In terms of impact.

    I've wondered for a few years if it wouldn't be better for the players if the WAGS were kept at home. lol

  • Comment number 73.

    'It is vital that the Aussies get it right. An English victory in the series and the nauseating self-adulation that will follow will be too much to stomach. I recall the poms coming close to beating the All Blacks once and they did a lap around the field.It still makes me want to puke. Can you imagine if they beat the Aussies after their 5 nil drubbing !!??'

    A bit like the nauseating sel-adulatation from All Black fans believing theu just had to turn up to win in 2007? Can you imagine if New Zealand actually won a world cup instead of choking again. They would go on and on about it.

  • Comment number 74.

    Australia have been unlucky with the injuries to Clark and Lee - both of whom would have been certain starters.

    Based on the opening 2 matches this is the weakest Australian bowling attack I have seen here since 1985. Back then Geoff Lawson was trundling in with "past his sell by date" Geoff Thompson, "young buck" Craig McDermott, "sit up and hit me" medium-pace of Craig Matthews and Greg Matthews's gentle off-spin. Says a lot how good their bowling attacks have been in the intervening years, led of course by our tormentors in chief ... Warne and McGrath

    Mitchell Johnson came here with a massive reputation, beware England if he recaptures top form. In bursts I like the look of Peter Siddle, Hilfenhaus and Hauritz have already performed better than the Aussie selectors dared hope.

    Australia will come out "swinging" at Edgbaston. England and Andrew Strauss must guard against any thoughts of caution, build on the lead and convert it into a series decisive 2-0. Despite what happened at Lords our ability to take 20 match-winning Australian wickets concerns me. Jimmy Anderson's new-ball probing seems to be complimenting Fred's thunder nicely. A "Simon Jones" as the third seamer is sorely missed. Unless the Edgbaston pitch is lightning quick and he takes the new ball, I don't see how Steve Harmison fits into the side. Is Ryan Sidebottom fit and available for selection ?


  • Comment number 75.

    The problem with Onions is that whilst he hasn't done anything wrong 1 he hasn't done a whole lot right, and 2 is he 100% fit? Do England really want to go into a test with Fred and another bowler who isn't totally fit? Also remember the Benaud maxim- do what your opponents would least like you to do. If I am an Aussie I would much prefer a team with Onions in it rather than Harmy. Also it might offset some of the Aussie cockiness over KP somewhat.

  • Comment number 76.

    You look at Watson's stats and you wonder why there is this desire to get him in from so many people. In 8 Tests, he averages under 20 with the bat and he's taken 14 wickets. Compare that to Stuart Broad, someone who many are saying could be dropped. Broad has a better batting average and his bowling average is roughly comparable in terms of strike rate. Very, very odd. Watson the saviour? Not in my book. He is a fine bat, no doubt about that. His first class average confirms that. I really think Australia risk losing his skills totally if they keep on with this idea that he can stay injury-free and bowl a number of overs and bat high up as well. He reminds me of Wayne Phillips, a guy who had a great deal of batting ability at the top of the order but who ended up being a middle order wicketkeeper. Australia utilised him behind the stumps to cover for Rod Marsh retiring but I feel Australia lost out by not allowing him to remain at the top of the order. With Watson, Australia may find they lose out on a very potent batsman because his injuries inflicted from trying to be an all-rounder keep him out of the game.

  • Comment number 77.

    This is what I reckon:

    Hughes
    Katich
    Ponting
    Hussey
    Haddin
    Johnson (all rounder)
    Hauritz
    Siddle
    Clark
    Hilfenhaus

    I dont rate Watson at all and wonder why he has been given so many chances, or is persevered with when he has an injury. He is always injured yet often tours.

    Johnson should play as an alrounder in mid order, he is a more predictable scorer than North, who to date has made two hundreds but not much else of note in his career. That allows Clark to come into the side. Clark is economical and gets wickets a la MCGrath. This takes the strike bowling pressure off Johnson.

    Alternatively, leave out Hauritz instead if the pitch is dodgy. North is also an opener in state cricket (as I recall) so could move up in place of Hughes.

  • Comment number 78.

    About Onions - it seemed to me that Strauss was reluctant to bowl him, as he bowled far fewer overs in the last test than the other quickies. If that's the case, get Harmison in, who has been in terrific nick this season.

    As for the Aussies, I think they are desperately missing Lee, especially with Johnson bowling so erratically. Whether Clarke is the bowler that he once was is a matter of debate, but he's accurate, even if he's lost a yard of pace. So maybe they could find some way of getting him into the attack without dropping Johnson, who has been in such good bowling form in recent times (and has still been taking wickets through this spell of poor bowling) that he surely doesn't deserve to be dropped. The Aussie selectors have some tough choices to make, I think.

  • Comment number 79.

    Clearly the lineup for Australia going into the third test should be (as it should have been from the getgo) is Kattich, Watson, Ponting, Hussey, Clarke, North, Haddin, Johnson, Siddle, McDonald, Clark.

    I agree that Johnson is a mess and would have brought Lee in at this stage were he fit. Only those in the squad really know the state of his mind and if he is really not with it then he must be replaced by Hilfenhaus. Hauritz is not up to the job. Hughes is technically unsound and English conditions with the ball moving around will always find him out..Edgbaston would be a disaster for him.

  • Comment number 80.

    England would be wise to bring in Harmison for either less than fit Onions or struggling Broad because England is unlikely to induce the Aussies to play so many daft shots to throw away their wickets so easily again,so we need another bowler in the Flintoff league of aggression to blast them out and make it 2-0.
    If Australia dont want to be 2-0 down then they have to shake up the bowling department - no 1 choice Lee isnt likely to be fit, so Clark & Watson should come in for Johnson & North.I expect a lot more discipline in the shot department from the Aussie top 5 for the rest of the Ashes

  • Comment number 81.

    wheelzo - the Aussies must be confident if they can win with 10 men. Actaully, if you were not so keen to drop Lord's centurion Michael Clarke and replace him with nobody that would be a good, attacking line-up.

  • Comment number 82.

    It would be hard on whichever of the Australian seam bowlers were to lose out. The only one who has a case for being dropped is Mitch; but as stated, he can also still produce wicket-taking deliveries, and if he were to produce about five of them, that would negate a few four-balls he may give away. This is shaping up into a series where containment is not an option: the best way to stop the batsmen scoring is to have them back in the hutch. As things stand at the moment, I'd say that England probably slightly have the edge on good pitches (it was their own stupidity, rather than brilliant Aussie bowling, that had them in trouble in the First Test, remember). On seaming pitches, it would be a more even bet, depending on which of the two sides' seam attacks had the fewest weak links.

  • Comment number 83.

    Including Johnson in a team for historical reasons or simply as a scarecow is ridiculous to say the least.He did well in SA,yes but that is a series long gone and since then he has become indifferent.It could be the sting of losing a series back home to SA that sparked him into the fighting spirit he had and now he just doesn't have the same emotions about the Ashes that others expect him to.
    Whatever it is I believe the Aussies are safer fielding a player in form and likely to help his team get 20 wickets.Watson or Clarke is that player,based on current form.Otherwise the cricket of scarecows doesnt quite work in a very important series like this one.
    Remember also that Johnson may be bowling well but the opposition have learnt to cope with him.In 2005,England still had a fiery lee and Warne to contend with but won the series.Bottom line,an in form bowler play if Johnson has a'problem'.

  • Comment number 84.

    England:

    Andrew Strauss (C)
    Alastair Cook
    Ravi Bopara
    Ian Bell
    Paul Collingwood
    Andrew Flintoff
    Matt Prior (WK)
    Graeme Swann
    James Anderson (Average 76.00!)
    Steve Harmison/Stuart Broad
    Graham Onions

    Australia:

    Simon Katich
    Mike Hussey
    Ricky Ponting (C)
    Michael Clarke
    Marcus North
    Brad Haddin (WK)
    Shane Watson
    Brett Lee (if fit)/Stuart Clark
    Nathan Hauritz
    Peter Siddle
    Ben Hilfenhaus

    England might give Broad one more chance plus Edgbaston won't help Harmison. Onions has been struggling with fitness but has taken good wickets for England. Bell is a good replacement, you don't want anyone inexperienced in a clinical Ashes Test. Australia have a big decision. Johnson has been woeful, and Brett Lee will almost certainly deal Johnson's last blow. Stuart Clark will also be itching as he was the leading ashes wicket taker last time. Phil Hughes has been poor 4 times out of 4 and his time for me is up. Watson impressed in the warm-up game. Showing he can hit the ball, build a classy innings and take handy wickets.

    So a lot to ponder for both teams, will be at Edgbaston on Sunday so will see the action close up.

  • Comment number 85.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 86.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 87.

    UNOUNOS

    My complete and utter apologies. I am not sure how I mixed up AMNAUSEATED's post with you. Again my humble apologies.

    Wanaklions

  • Comment number 88.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 89.

    AMNAUSEATED

    As with most of your posts the comment about the England rugby side doing a "lap of honour" is totally incorrect and "one eyed". The rugby side was in fact saying thank you for Rugby supporters turning up to a football ground (soccer ground) to watch them play.



  • Comment number 90.

    All of this 'the Edgbaston pitch will not be hard enough for Harmison' business just illustrates the typically English mentality that probably has a lot to do with Harmy's insecurity. Brett Lee also relies on pace - would the Aussies leave HIM out if he was fit, just because the wicket was not helping pace bowlers? No: they'd expect him to be able to adapt and bowl in ALL conditions; world-class bowlers (which is what Harmy was before the policies of the management ruined his mental and physical preparation) should be able to do that. Lord's wasn't exactly brilliant for pace, but Flintoff still managed to get the ball down at a velocity rapid enough to worry the Australians.
    Oh, and Oliver, maybe the fact that most people on here seem to want to talk about England rather than Australia is because this site belongs to the BBC - not Cricket Australia!!! I'm all for enjoying cricket objectively, and can appreciate and enjoy good cricket from both sides (Clarke's innings at Lord's was a masterpiece)....but as far as I'm concerned, the Aussies can worry about their own selection problems...as an Englishman, I'll worry about England's!

  • Comment number 91.

    Moderators

    This is the third email I have sent requesting why my comment was removed from the thread. The points I made re excuses of why the ABs lost were all made by journalists from among others the BBC the Telegraph the Sunday Star time and the NZ herald . Therefore can you pls give me the respect and answer my emails. I note today one, n another thread that one respondent called another submitter an idiot why has this not been removed??? Or is it only folk who support England that get "biffed"???

 

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