On a freezing September evening infront of a full house at The Ageas bowl, the Australian tour of 2013 finally came to an end.
The summer saw England win the test series 3-0 and draw the T20s, before going down 2-1 in the one day internationals. Now with the intriguing return tour down under fast approaching, the respective selection committees will now be looking at formulating the side most capable of winning test matches. How do teams do this? By taking 20 wickets of course. Let’s look at the options each side have as they prepare for the return series.
Australia eventually stumbled on what appears to be three of their four bowlers. Ryan Harris leads the line as the strike bowler who has the natural talent to warrant a place in any test side in the world. Peter Siddle is a prime example of a 110% cricketer who can be relied on time and again to run in and hit a good line and length for his captain. In the spin department, Nathan Lyon looks to have done enough to get himself into the starting eleven at Brisbane. Here is now where the problem lies.
A never ending injury list means the fourth bowling spot is well up for grabs. Pattinson and Starc, who we saw this summer, aren’t expected to be fit for the first test. Jackson Bird also left the tour party early due to a back problem, whilst Pat Cummins, a youngster who is regarded as the brightest talent in Australia, is out for another year with a stress fracture of the back. Seemingly leaving the door open for the return of the barmy army favourite Mithcell Johnson.
The bustling quick seemed to have been cast into international wilderness after a drop in form, stemming from the last Ashes tour down under, saw him dropped from the Aussie side. Since then he has rediscovered some rhythm to his bowling and we saw him bowling 90mph+ in the one dayers. Another option could be young Hazelwood who we also saw in the green and golds one day side this summer.
He looks to have natural pace and has been in and around the set up for a number of years now. Lehmann could look to put his faith in Faulkner, who he picked to make his debut at The Oval. This would also add depth to the batting line up, which looked fragile at times this summer. Lehmann did spring a couple of surprises during his first series in charge of his national side, however I fully expect him to go with the obvious, and Johnson to make a comeback to test match cricket at the GABBA.
England once again have the greater strength in depth as far as fast bowling options are concerned, and with Bresnan likely to miss the start of the series a spot is up for grabs. Finn is the most experienced of the options having already played 23 test matches taking 90 wickets. He is an absolute certain to play more test cricket, but indifferent form led to him being left out of this summer’s Ashes test after a poor show at Trent Bridge. Chris Tremlett is a bowler of similar style. Another one of England’s giant fast bowlers who has experienced recent success down under after taking 17 wickets in 3 tests.
A string of injuries has meant limited cricket since then but after returning to fitness and form towards the end of the season for Surrey, he looks a certain to be in the squad. Another bowler we saw this summer was the young all rounder Chris Woakes, who made his test match debut at The Oval. He has already impressed in one day cricket against the Aussies, most noticeably on the previous tour where in one game he took 6/45. He would be an option that Flower might go for as more of a like for like replacement with Bresnan, as Woakes is more than capable with the bat.
The outside bet would be Boyd Rankin who has impressed massively for England when given the chance this summer, having recently switched his alliance from Ireland. He has shown he has the control and skill to bowl at the world’s best batsman, taking five wickets in the three completed one day internationals this month. So with another gruelling and arduous five test series on the horizon I would fully expect him to make an appearance at some point. As for the first test I would expect Flower to take the safer option and go with Tremlett who has the experience at test match level.
Open a new Betfred account to bet on cricket and get a no deposit free £10 bet added to your account.
See all the latest Ashes 2013/14 betting odds at Betfred.
By Scott Butterworth