Cricket

“Dear Stokes & Hales, We Miss You”

The ashes is no doubt one of the greatest rivalry in the history sports with its own charm. It is filled with power from both sides. It’s more like a war for honor and dignity and has existed for almost two centuries now. People see this competition as Australia’s competition mostly, since Australia dominated the ashes for moreover a decade once. But last time when ashes was played, England won it and now both sides, Australia and England have equal series wins, 32-32.

James Pattinson grabs a wicket.

It’s always difficult to imagine England being dominate over the Aussies in Australia since their poor record. Like, England hasn’t won a test at Gabba for a decade now and they’ve always stepped on Gabba with high hopes and gave everything they have but they just still couldn’t! Aussies always underestimate their opponents when it comes to a test at the Gabba, specially England.

The Aussie coach Darren Lehman said this in a press conference after the English squad landed in Brisbane “We love playing here”.

The Gabba will host the first ever Day/Night Ashes test.

With Australia’s poor form and fragile middle-order, England definitely can have several chances to break Gabba curse but then there is always a particular Aussie bowling pair. Starc seems to be in a fine form since he’s been focusing for this in past few months after recovering from the injury. Starc and Hazzlewood could really dismantle England. England doesn’t seems to be with other profilic options with the seamers, they’ll rely on James and Broad for most of the times.

They have 4 debutantes this time out of which 3 are fast bowlers. James, does have a poor bowling record in Australia, averaging 38, 48 point something at Gabba, has been in a lethal form for the past few years and he might move the ball in both directions with the new ball might result as that ”X-Factor”. or he’s getting better with time just like a fine old wine.

A lot of people have been talking about Ben Stokes’ absence from this English side but England won’t be in trouble until Garry Ballance does something stupid.

Squad announcements of the both sides were reacted by the fans on social media with serious concerns. Some mocked, some showed how pissed they were.

 

Alex Hales scored 472 runs at an average of 47.11 for Notts this season.

Some players through out the year worked hard for this opportunity. For example, Alex Hales. The guy completely transformed into Alex Hales 2.0, a consistent player. He was criticized and tagged as ”not a test material”  after continuous failures once. But his performance this year in the County Championship showed how serious he takes every single format of the game as he played as a middle-order batsman in the First-Class games and started a sprint of scoring runs which didn’t end for a while. In 9 innings he scored 427 runs at an average of 47.11 and yet he was ignored. While Garry Ballance, who hasn’t played up to expectations even once since his returns gets to travel to Australia for free. Ballance might cost England a lot and might be Australia’s favorite walking wicket.

Ben Stokes has been hitting the ball hard with the bat and hitting the deck hard but he took hitting the ball and deck hard too serious that he started hitting random people harder. This incident caused Ben his place in the squad. How tough it must have been to go through this.  Well, a question just raised in my mind regarding this. In Big Ant’s Ashes Cricket, are we allowed to play as Ben Stoke and punch some of the player randomly?!

Somehow, Jake Ball makes his way into everything just like Jerry escapes from Tom’s trap every single time. The selectors say his domestic performance is the reason for making way in for him but it’s been a long time since he really gave a prominent performance for England. He also gets to travel to Australia for free. He can hang around Gabba this weekend and maybe jump in the pool for a while. Fawad Alam should try to be like Jake Ball to somehow make his into the Pakistani side.

Australia on the other side must be happy since they have a fit proper bowling unit without Mathew Wade behind the stumps. Tim Paine’s selection is pretty surprising as his records talk for it. But everyone saw it coming, he was under Lehman’s radar for a long time and there must be a reason why has been given a chance in the Aussie selection committee’s mind. It’s unfair for Peter Nevil, but he has to deal with it.

Australia had pretty rough time in last two years since they couldn’t find a proper keeper and a strong middle-order. Even in the last series they played at home against the South Africa. Let’s just hope Usman Khuwaja somehow makes it to the line-up in the first test, averages 60+ in Australia. Handscomb can be a big deal as well. Bancroft, who replaces Renshaw for his poor form in the shield games, didn’t really made up to the headlines for Gloucestershire until he scored 278 against Kent in his final game. People say that he scores runs for fun and that is what the audience expect from him.

Cameron Bancroft will be Warner’s opening partner.

Will be making his debut this Thursday as an opener with Warner, big opportunity ahead of him!

 Captains of both sides are a bit inexperienced. But Root seems to be better because of his first two series wins a captain boosted his confidence. Smith on the other hand at times makes the most stupid decisions, the worst one’s. Smith is an excellent batsmen and without any doubt one of the best batsman in the longer format these days but at times he just can’t resist a bit of pressure while Root might resist it.

Let’s not forget KP said ”England will definitely get hammered by the Aussies”, but after performing well in the tour matches, England have been familiar to the conditions now, England’s batting line-up seems to much healthier than Australia’s. It’s up to the Aussie bowlers to either approve it as strong or not.

 Although Aussie bowlers seem ambitious and confident to dominate the ashes this time. Pat Cummins and Josh Hazzlewood have already started to show the heat to the English side. Cummins earlier said that he wants to emulate as Mitch Johnson of this Aussie side. He further added I would love to be that bowler, along with Starcy who can run in and bowl in short spells flat-out as fast as we can,’’ Cummins said in Brisbane.

“That’s a role I would like to play.’’

“I know Mitchell and Brett Lee were similar. They missed a lot of cricket early in their careers. It probably gave me a little bit of confidence and a little bit of patience. Now I’m at the stage where I don’t have to worry about it.

“There’s never any guarantees. I feel like I’m in a really different position to what I was the last few years. The last few years I’d play a couple of games and I got sore or didn’t really feel quite up to first class cricket. Whereas here It feels like I play a game and all I have to think about is the next game coming up.’’

Hazzlewood had something to say as he said ”Australia will look to “open up a few scars” when the Ashes series against England gets under way in Brisbane.” But the Aussie bowlers should worry about what can happen rather than what they want. Nathan Lyon should be worrying if Tim Paine will pump him up with ”Nice Garry”. Let’s hope he comes up with something.

Nathan didn’t miss the opportunity to start a heat conversation either and said ”There’s a lot of scars for the English guys, especially coming over here, especially when we have two guys bowling around 150Kph. Leading into Perth we knew … Matt Prior wanted to fly home before the game started and he was one of the senior players.” 

”He was scared. It’s four years ago. I think he’s all right now.” said Nathan. He even said that Australia are out to end careers of English players.

If at any point people will miss Ben Stokes is when there won’t be anyone to sledge when England’s losing, the cheap sledging.

England can really make this tour a historical one if they resist Australia. And it’s not difficult to do that seeing Australia’s form. England has to see things different than the English the selectors who picked Jake Ball. They have new players this time, a new leggie with a lot of potential, and a new captain who make history. England this time has every opportunity to open up the series with a victory only if they are ready to face unpredictability. And most importantly, a place for different situations.

 The ashes goes underway this Thursday in Brisbane. The cricket fans all over the world cannot wait to witness one of the greatest rivalry as butterflies fly in few’s stomach. It’s full of surprises, battling spells and sledges. Both teams are confident of winning this opener while pundits believe England will break the Gabba curse this time.

Will England break the curse? Will England blame something else than pitch, air, sky, crowd, cats etc if they lose? Will Smith silence the critics, will he avoid brain fade moments? Will James improve his record? Will Starc emulate as Mitch Johnson? We’ll have to wait for it!

 

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