Why Australia won’t win the Ashes
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England's captain Andrew Strauss as he holds the Ashes urn in 2009. AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth
I don’t particularly like sitting on the fence. And I am not going to start now. Australia will not win the Ashes in England this year and this is why.
In very simple terms, their batting just isn’t good enough.
The recent one-day international struggles have served the purpose of highlighting the inadequacies that are currently blighting the Australian side and this will extend to the five-day format.
Rotation and the sense, or lack of it, is consuming plenty of column inches, however, that isn’t the reason why the trip to these parts in the summer will ultimately end in disappointment.
The upcoming series in India could provide an extremely callow line-up with the chance to prosper in time for the highest profile fixture of all, or it could have the contrasting effect of throwing yet another rat among the pigeons.
Either way, if I was Michael Clarke or Mickey Arthur I would be harbouring deep doubts about my side’s ability to produce the necessary scores when it matters.
Only Clarke of the current incumbents could be bracketed as world-class and one outstanding player does not a productive top order make.
That is where the cracks in the facade lie.
When all are fit, the seam bowling options are pretty good, Nathan Lyon is a better spinner than he seems to be given credit for and Matthew Wade, while not as good with bat in hand as Brad Haddin, is a steadily improving performer.
But take Clarke out of the mix and what is left?
David Warner has talent and is doing slightly more than just cutting the mustard on the Test scene
Ed Cowan doesn’t have the all-round game to score heavily at such a rarified level.
Shane Watson can certainly play but only two top level centuries in 38 matches is a dismal return for someone of his experience and ability.
Phil Hughes has improved, and markedly so, but is still relatively naive and feeling his way back in. He isn’t likely to produce on a consistent basis.
And then there is, er, who?
Of all the candidates, it will be a novice, or virtually the same, who will be thrown into the middle order.
Wade could stay at six but that leaves a lengthy tail and would constitute a big gamble and taking such a punt would either be extremely brave or downright foolhardy.
A glance at who they are coming up against merely exaggerates the inexperience of the Australians.
Thirty-one centuries – this is assuming it will be Warner, Cowan, Clarke, Hughes, Watson, Wade and another – 22 of which have come from the captain, barely scratches the surface of the 97 that the likely Indian top seven can boast or the 71 their English counterparts can offer.
Such wetness behind the ears may not necessarily be a bad thing, after all, playing with a certain lack of knowledge can result in surprisingly good results but it isn’t looking likely if my eyes can be trusted.
What was shown in the recent series against South Africa and Sri Lanka didn’t hint at upcoming struggle, yet this included a prolific Mike Hussey and a sub-continental attack that was far from threatening.
Throw in the indecisiveness that gave Rob Quiney a baffling couple of games, Hughes a belated return and no number six in Sydney and the pond is muddied further.
So put all the aforementioned ingredients into the mixing bowl and the only outcome visible from this side of the world isn’t the one that Aussie fans would care to witness.
Even with the inbuilt bias towards the English, this isn’t a rose-tinted point of view.
Australia will not win the Ashes and that is why.
Alec Swann is a former Northants and Lancashire opener turned cricket writer. Outside of the joys of a Test match, Newcastle United and golf generally occupy his other sporting interests with a soft spot for the Newcastle Knights.