Aussies no chance in Ashes, says Holding
Despite Australia’s emerging young fast bowlers, there’s every chance the same quicks who were demolished by England last time out will feature in next year’s Ashes series.
The rise of young guns Pat Cummins, James Pattinson and Mitch Starc in the past six months boosted Australian hopes of blitzing England with a new-look lineup in 2013.
Teenager Cummins led the way, stunning the cricket world with his man of the match display on debut in South Africa last year before Pattinson starred with 25 wickets from his four Tests against New Zealand and India.
Starc also showed plenty of promise, particularly in Perth where he took four wickets against India in his third Test.
But Cummins still has only one Test to his name after missing all summer with a foot injury, Pattinson is struggling to keep himself fit and Starc hasn’t yet established himself as a regular at international level.
It means that Ben Hilfenhaus, Peter Siddle and Ryan Harris, three parts of the attack who spent most of the last Ashes series being flogged by England’s top order, shape as Michael Clarke’s most reliable options.
That trio were chosen ahead of Starc and Pattinson for the first Test in the West Indies and as far as Windies fast-bowling great Michael Holding is concerned, things have to change if Australia is to have any chance of reclaiming the urn from Andrew Strauss’ men.
“I don’t think this Australian team is a very good squad,” Holding told AAP during the second Test in Trinidad.
“I think they are okay, a reasonable set of cricketers, but I don’t see them being good enough to beat England in England right now.
“I don’t know how much improvement they’ll make between now and the Ashes series next year but at the moment, if they were to play right now, I would be selling my house, my car, everything to put it on England.”
Hilfenhaus’ Ashes series was a disaster last time around, with many believing he’d never play Test cricket again after Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott and company took him for 415 runs in four Tests with his seven wickets coming at nearly 60 runs a piece.
Siddle and Harris had better Ashes campaigns but 32-year-old Harris’ inability to stay fit remains an ongoing concern while Siddle was sent home from the Caribbean after one Test when he started developing a dreaded stress fracture in his back.
And while Holding is unimpressed with Australia’s bowling, he also feels openers Ed Cowan and David Warner as well as veteran Ricky Ponting will find the going tough in England.
Holding believes Ponting is playing on purely to redeem himself against England after losing the Ashes three times as captain.
“I just think that Ricky is so upset that he has lost the Ashes to England on so many occasions, he’s desperate to play a series in which he wins it back,” Holding said.
“Perhaps that’s what is going to drive him to play in 2013 but he is certainly not as good a player as he was a few years ago.
“When you’re as great as he was I don’t think you should hang around until you’re not making the kind of runs that people expect you to make.
“Who knows? There might be a final flicker before the flame goes out and that last flicker might be the Ashes series next year.”
Holding works as a commentator in England and is an unabashed fan of the English bowling line-up, suggesting their recent struggles in away series against Pakistan and Sri Lanka will be quickly forgotten back on their home shores.
“I think England have a fantastic bowling line-up, especially in England,” Holding said.
“Jimmy Anderson swings the ball around trees. Stuart Broad is developing into, not just a good bowler, but a good cricketer. There’s (Tim) Bresnan, there’s (Chris) Tremlett – who has been injured a bit but is on his way back, there’s Steven Finn, who I rate highly. (Graeme) Swann, I just think he’s a fantastic bowler.
“Australia need to find some batting in that middle order.
“As it stands right now they’ll struggle.”© AAP 2013