Ashes Cricket: 5th Test Preview

 In Ashes, Cricket

It’s hard to say anything negative about the Australians in the aftermath of an Ashes defeat for fear of being called a “Whinging Pom” or suffering from a case of sour grapes. The fact is, without Steve Smith, Australia probably wouldn’t have won the Ashes. However, have England really done enough throughout the series to win them? I don’t think so.

It was always going to be a battle for the batsmen. Neither of the teams have excelled. Ben Stokes and Rory Burns have been the stand out for England. Only 2 Australians appear in the top 6 run scorers of the series so far, however England’s Top 4 have scored less runs combined than both Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne, the latter of which has been an incredible find for the Australians.

Smith is a freak. Has there been another player you can think of that never looks like getting out? He seems to have more time than any other player. His extravagant leaves look like a mixture of boredom, humour and keeping concentration.  He plays shots that would be laughed at in club cricket on a Saturday that race through the covers for four. And above all, he has scored almost double the amount of runs (671) of the next closest (Ben Stokes 354) batsman playing one less game too. He’s averaging 134.20. His highest score of the series is bigger than 3 of England’s innings throughout the series. I know it’s stating the obvious but without him, the Aussies would have struggled.

Again, that’s not to say that England would have capitalised on that. The only game they won was mostly down to one man. We could probably count on one hand the amount of sessions that were convincingly won by England throughout the series.

The bowlers stood out a mile. For England, Stuart Broad has been incredible leading the attack in the absence of James Anderson. Jofra Archer has shown the potential he has but needs to do it every game. There were times at Old Trafford when he was bowling low 80mph when he could have just been another player picked from county cricket.  For Australia, Pat Cummins is relentless and showed why he is number one in the world. Josh Hazlewood isn’t far behind showing incredible consistency whenever he bowls. The Australians have one of the best, if not the best, attack in the world. With a couple more batsman, they will become the best team in the world.

England need a victory at The Oval. It’s no real surprise that they have gone with a an unchanged squad, if they were going to make changes they would have done so by now. This crop of players may even get the winter tour of New Zealand too. Any further failures there would probably see the end of one or two test careers and a few new faces for the series in South Africa which follows. Presumably Chris Woakes or/and Sam Curran will play in place of Craig Overton and perhaps a batsman if Ben Stokes is unfit to bowl. Hopefully the Australians will still be hungover.

As England fans, we were desperate for them to win both the World Cup and Ashes in one year. However, looking how the series has panned out, you would happily take a series draw, and feel it would be a huge achievement for England if they manage to do it with the way they have played. Australia will also be desperate to win. Can Australia really claim victory if the series ends in a draw? They have kept reminding us of this for at least 9 weeks since the World Cup Final. Hopefully we can do the same for the next 2 years.

Venue: The Oval Date: 12th-16th September 2019

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