Australia favourites for 2017 Ashes thanks to strength of home batting

Giri Subramanian Roar Guru

By , Giri Subramanian is a Roar Guru

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    The Ashes begins at the Gabba on November 23 and the Aussies will be happy to be playing at home, taking on an English side in something of a pickle with an unwanted controversy.

    The Australian batting lineup received lot of flak for their inconsistent performances overseas over the past couple of years, except for captain Steven Smith and David Warner. In that period though, the Aussie batting has been extremely effective at home, winning eight out of their last 12 Tests.

    The bowling attack has done its part, but the biggest contributors to that record were the batsmen.

    Warner and Matt Renshaw – who, in all probability, will open the batting – average 70.5 and 63 respectively. Usman Khawaja has had a horror on the subcontinent, but averages 77.50 with more than 1000 runs in ten Tests at home. Smith has been Australia’s best batsman in all conditions, averaging 71.75, and Peter Handscomb showed flashes of his ability in Bangladesh, but averages 99.75 in the four Tests he has played at home.

    The biggest concerns are at wicketkeeper and No.6.

    Matthew Wade has played four Tests in the above period and averages only 12.5 with the bat in those games. Peter Nevill played eight Tests during that time and averaged 32.71. The Aussies have stuck with Wade in spite of his poor performances over the past couple of years, so it will be interesting to see to whom the selectors toss the gloves.

    The other position up for grabs is six, where Glenn Maxwell – who hasn’t played any Tests at home – is prime contender. Hilton Cartwright did not set the world on fire in Bangladesh but is a great prospect who provides an additional pace option.

    Mitchell Marsh also is an option as a pace bowling all-rounder but his performances with the bat over the past couple of years aren’t encouraging. Marcus Stoinis had a great series in India and his batting, along with his effective medium pace, might tilt the balance in his favour. Shaun Marsh and Travis Head round off the contenders’ list.

    Marcus Stoinis of Australia celebrates

    Marcus Stoinis. (AAP Image/SNPA, Ross Setford)

    The bowling attack is settled. Mitch Starc is expected to be fit, as is Josh Hazlewood. Pat Cummins was brilliant on the subcontinent and is expected to be the third seamer at the Gabba, while Nathan Lyon will be the lone spinner. With James Pattinson ruled out, Jackson Bird will probably be the fourth seamer if required.

    As for the English, they may land in Australia without their premier all-rounder, Ben Stokes, pending an official announcement from the ECB. For now, Stokes has been included in the squad.

    James Anderson will spearhead their attack but does not have a stellar record in Australia and Stuart Broad hasn’t been in great form over the past year or so.

    The batting will rely heavily on Alastair Cook and captain Joe Root, as the rest of the lineup is inexperienced.

    The Aussies are a strong team at home and it will take an enormous effort from the visitors to upset the hosts.

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