The Ashes Series could be tighter than we expect

England come into a home series as the overwhelming favourites. But beware the wounded Aussies...

The much anticipated Ashes series gets under way today and many people have been speculating as to what will happen. Clearly England are favourites for the series but Australia should be taken seriously.

As with all Ashes series there has been a lot of talk, Sir Ian Botham saying he can see a five nil whitewash for the home side. England are good enough to back this statement up, but Australia will be determined not to let this happen. The saying “beware of the wounded Aussie” definitely applies to this side. Under the former coach Mickey Arthur, Australia reached the lowest of lows. A whitewash against India was followed by a very disappointing Champions Trophy. This all meant that Arthur was replaced by legend Darren Lehman. This in my opinion was a blessing in disguise.

Lehman is one reason why I believe the series will be closer. He is part of the legendary Australian side that did not lose an Ashes series; an old school coach who is the polar opposite of his predecessor Arthur. He has already had an impact on the side, with improved performances in both warm up matches. Even David Warner looked happy sitting on the side line bringing on drinks.

What Lehman seems to be installing in the side is an “us against the world” attitude. Clearly Shane Watson and Michael Clarke heard this message with commanding performances in the last two games. What England should also watch out for is Australia’s bowling; the young group of fast bowlers can be deadly on their day as Somerset found out. These bowlers have been in England since mid-May, meaning they should have adapted to pitch conditions.

It can be argued about how much can be learned from watching the warm-up games but England struggled against Essex’s second string bowling attack on day one of their game whilst Australia looked good in both matches. The first match win against Somerset was particularly good considering that the same team beat India a few years back.

Another reason why I suggest the series could be closer than the predicted five-nil is the 1989 Ashes. On that tour Australia arrived in England being branded as “the worst Australian side to tour England.” They ended up winning that series four-nil. After the thrashing at the hands of India, many in the English media suggested Australia were just as bad.

I still think England will dominate the series, but they will have to be on their best form to make sure of the win. Australia’s young side will hope to push England all the way, developing experience for the next Ashes series in December.

image: © andy-roo

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