Gee wiz, I’m not prepared. Suddenly, out of the dark, damp cold of Melbourne winter, when my focus is on the increasingly good form of my Tigers and surviving the slightly torturous season of Vets footy I’ve imposed on myself, The Ashes has loomed.
I’ve watched with casual interest the scores from the Tour games, happily noting the two centuries Australia’s third Mitch and second Marsh has made on tour. Surely we’ve finally found a viable alternative to Watson I thought, but still it didn’t actually occur to me that the Tests would be happening so soon.
Less exciting news was the re-injured knee of Ryan Harris. AFL fans will note that there is very little chance of Ryan Harris disappearing, only to be replaced by Ryan Lake. A truly gutsy performer was big Ryan. He wrecked his knee to get Australia back to the top of Test cricket’s tree. It’s a shame his career is ended, but he was old, and we’ve got plenty of oldies in this side.
This is an Ashes series. This is on the Poms home soil, with the weird swinging ball and the pudding tracks and the fingers greased up by chewing gum spittle and the unmonitored use of breaks for bowlers and the cricket destroying use of deep point. They can’t be written off on home soil. More importantly, we simply are not that good.
The likely batting lineup for the First Test is listed below with a quick description of each player:
- Chris Rogers – Old and not that good.
- David Warner – Talented, as capable of doing great things as nothing.
- Steve Smith – Most in form player in the world. Relied upon heavily to make heaps of runs.
- Michael Clarke – Old with a stuffed body. More likely to pay a touching tribute to a teammate than make a big hundred.
- Adam Voges – Old and in his third Test.
- Mitch Marsh – Talented batting all-rounder named Mitch. Unknown quantity at the level.
- Brad Haddin – Old and in terrible form with the bat for some time.
- Mitchell Johnson – Old and fading, but still sporting a fearsome moustache.
- Mitchell Starc – Talented inswing bowler. Lacking Test results and fearsome moustache.
- Josh “Noni” Hazlewood – Terrific first 5 Tests. Has only played 5 Tests, not named Mitch, no moustache.
- Nathan Lyon – Best performed off spinner in Australian Test cricket history. Unfortunately, he bowls off spin.
As for the English Team, my unpreparedness really comes to the fore. Never before have I known so little about any opposition Test team, perhaps with the exception of Bangladesh. I’ll list and describe their 13 man squad using all the information I have within me:
- Alistair Cook – Actually capable of making lots of runs. Part time presenter on Monsterpiece Theatre. Most English person in the team.
- Moeen Ali – Mohammed’s bantamweight grandson?
- James Anderson – Outswing bowler, chewing gum chewer.
- Gary Ballance – Seemingly ordinary middle order batsman. Unaffected by an inner-ear condition.
- Ian Bell – Good at home. Playing at home.
- Stuart Broad – Tall and vaguely capable bowler. Hilariously inept batsman. Amusing Twitter user.
- Jos Buttler – Folk guitarist?
- Steven Finn – Huckleberry’s cousin?
- Adam Lyth – Yoga devotee?
- Adil Rashid – Hangover from previous recruiting regime.
- Joe Root – Great name.
- Ben Stokes – Red haired Kiwi. The stepbrother of a little cousin.
- Mark Wood – From all reports a terrific whittler.
As I said, we aren’t that good, or at least, there are heaps of question marks over the likely line-up we’ll be sending onto the field. It’s a strange mix of old, almost finished players, and young, unestablished players - except for Voges, who is an old unestablished player. It could go well, it could fall in a big heap. It’s very hard to tell. I think if we were playing a more settled, formidable side, I’d be more than a tad worried. As it is, I have very little clue about the side we’re coming up against. It would appear that the fallout from the last Ashes and the more recent World Cup was swift and strong. I wonder what Kevin Pietersen is doing right now...
And so, come Wednesday (seriously, Wednesday?!?!?), I’ll be plonked down with some mates to watch the cricket in the middle of winter feeling incredibly underprepared. Whatever happens, I’m hoping it’s not Watson.