• IND vs ENG 4th Test 8th December 2016 Mumbai
  • AUS vs NZ 1st ODI 4th December 2016 Sidney
  • AUS vs NZ 2nd ODI 6th December 2016 Canberra

Lee And Clark No Certainties For Ashes Cricket Series First Test

By on May 27, 2009

Ashes Series - Stuart Clark and Brett Lee

Brett Lee and Stuart Clark will have to wait until the first two tour games to secure their spots in the bowling pecking order for the Ashes. Both men are coming back after lengthy injuries and must leapfrog a couple of the incumbents to win places in the opening Test of the series in Cardiff on July 8.

Mitchell Johnson grew into the attack leader in Lee’s absence and was backed up by Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus, who are both expected to suit English conditions, during the strong 2-1 victory in South Africa. “Where Stuart and Brett are in the pecking order, we don’t know at the moment,” the captain Ricky Ponting said. “Lee is a bit of an unknown [after ankle surgery]. The first two games before the first Test will tell us.”

Australia are already talking about playing more than 11 in the lead-up matches in Hove and Worcester to give all five of their frontline weapons a chance to impress, as well as testing the fitness of the allrounder Shane Watson. In 2005 there was only one first-class affair after the one-day series and the lack of lead-up time led to Jason Gillespie and Michael Kasprowicz struggling without the extra work.

Another factor both Ponting and Michael Clarke spoke of during the team camp on the Sunshine Coast was the time it takes for visiting players to get used to the Duke balls used in England. “Our guys will get a great opportunity to use their [England’s] cricket ball for a few weeks leading into the first Test,” Ponting said. “That was probably what brought us undone last time, their ability to use their ball well and we were a little off the boil with it.”

Reverse-swing was one of England’s major strengths when they ended Australia’s 16-year hold on the urn, but Clarke was confident the current batsmen would be able to negotiate the tricks this time. “Our knowledge, certainly of the guys who have been there before, is a little bit more educated than what it was four years ago,” he said. “Generally the difference with the English ball and the Kookaburra [which is used in Australia] is our ball swings from the start.

“It doesn’t swing as early in England, then it starts to swing a bit later. Reverse-swing is as big a part as natural swing over there. It sounds like they are having a pretty good summer with weather, that being the case it will probably be pretty dry and we’ll have to combat reverse-swing as well.”

Australia could not get the ball moving as easily as England’s bowlers and that trend was repeated in India last year despite the acquisition of Troy Cooley, the bowling coach behind the 2005 success. Tim Nielsen, the current coach, believes he has a complementary attack that can be relied on in all conditions.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply