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Why Australia won’t win the Ashes

Alec Swann Columnist

By Alec Swann, Alec Swann is a Roar Expert

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    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
    Alec Swann

    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.

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    The Crowd Says (260)

    • January 24th 2013 @ 6:02am
      Red Kev said | January 24th 2013 @ 6:02am | ! Report

      It’s okay because Arthur and Inverarity are keen to put forward Glenn Maxwell as a no.6 batsman and allrounder to save Australia at test level! He just performed really really well in the ODIs – you just have to listen to the commentary and the press conferences to be convinced of that.
      3 matches, 22 off 37 balls (for an awesome average of 7.3), and 9.1 overs bowled for figures of 0-53.
      Can’t bat, can’t bowl, but he’ll get selected because “he’s a great bloke” and he can field.

      • January 24th 2013 @ 8:52am
        Sunil said | January 24th 2013 @ 8:52am | ! Report

        If we don’t bring in khawaja we will be in trouble simply because he is one of the better players of swing which is out number 1 issue right now, Maxwell’s batting nor his bowling will stand up at test level

        • Roar Guru

          January 24th 2013 @ 9:21am
          Hoy said | January 24th 2013 @ 9:21am | ! Report

          He is a bloody good fielder though.

          • January 24th 2013 @ 11:17am
            Brendon said | January 24th 2013 @ 11:17am | ! Report

            That backhanded throw last night was awesome, god I wish he could bat or bowl

          • January 24th 2013 @ 11:35am
            Vivek said | January 24th 2013 @ 11:35am | ! Report

            Agreed Hoy but unfortuantely we don’t pick teams based on fielding, that’s a bonus but you must be able to bowl and bat and at present Khawaja is the best batsman to replace Mike Hussey but not sure about who the best allrounder is.

            • Roar Guru

              January 24th 2013 @ 12:34pm
              TheGenuineTailender said | January 24th 2013 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

              What’s with the all-rounder obsession? We don’t need one. Why even bother?

              • January 24th 2013 @ 2:27pm
                Tony Archers Maroon Underwear said | January 24th 2013 @ 2:27pm | ! Report

                I agree with TheGenuineTailender

              • January 24th 2013 @ 3:39pm
                Nick Inatey said | January 24th 2013 @ 3:39pm | ! Report

                It came from 2005 when Andrew Flintoff destroyed Australia. Australian selectors are now convinced that to win, you need an allrounder. Which is just nonsense. 6 batters, one keeper, 4 bowlers. One of the batsman to bowl part time spin is handy.

      • January 25th 2013 @ 9:43am
        Disco said | January 25th 2013 @ 9:43am | ! Report

        Grooming him, even. They are so clever those blokes.

    • January 24th 2013 @ 6:23am
      Johnno said | January 24th 2013 @ 6:23am | ! Report

      Ivers picks anyone who gives him the Shivers. And Maxwell seems added to the list, to give Ivers the Shivers.
      But in saying that do all coaches and selectors have favourites, is that a bad thing. All bosses in any industry, have favourites who they like the most and feel most comfortable with, even if they fear or respect someone more, they may not feel comfortable picking them coz they don’t like them as people. Is Ivers selections getting personal, over skill, hard to say yet, but some of his selections raises eyebrows.

    • Roar Guru

      January 24th 2013 @ 6:28am
      sheek said | January 24th 2013 @ 6:28am | ! Report

      Well done Alec,

      Fence sitting only gives you splinters anyway. You’re right, the batting is our weakness.

      And Red Kev, congrats on beating Johnno to first response this morning! 😉

      • Roar Guru

        January 24th 2013 @ 6:47am
        peeeko said | January 24th 2013 @ 6:47am | ! Report

        yes, you got to get up early to beat Johnno , and he didn’t even mention Usman 😉

        • January 24th 2013 @ 7:15am
          Red Kev said | January 24th 2013 @ 7:15am | ! Report

          I just thought it was his day off – yay /happy dance

          • January 24th 2013 @ 8:58am
            Sunil said | January 24th 2013 @ 8:58am | ! Report

            I will mention Usman, he needs the full series in India so he can show his class and get ready for the ashes

            • January 25th 2013 @ 10:05am
              Disco said | January 25th 2013 @ 10:05am | ! Report

              No chance. He’s not in the boys club.

    • January 24th 2013 @ 6:32am
      Dave said | January 24th 2013 @ 6:32am | ! Report

      You could be right which scares me. It was quite evident in the SAF and SL series that Aus rely way to much on MClarke. They need someone solid in that middle order to consolidate. And there’s no way Cowan should be in that team. Get kwaja back in there and return Watson to open. Get rid of Lyon and replace him with Hogg.

      Comment left via The Roar’s iPhone app. Download it now [].

      • Roar Guru

        January 24th 2013 @ 9:49am
        TheGenuineTailender said | January 24th 2013 @ 9:49am | ! Report

        Nathan Lyon would have taken an absolute bag-full this summer and praised amongst the best in the world if Wade could hold his catches and not fumble stumpings….

        • January 24th 2013 @ 10:10am
          formeropenside said | January 24th 2013 @ 10:10am | ! Report

          If he was an actual wicketkeeper, you mean?

          • Roar Pro

            January 24th 2013 @ 10:22am
            aggregated drupe said | January 24th 2013 @ 10:22am | ! Report

            Wade has looked to improve over the last couple of games. He is keeping better after his talk with Healy.

            • January 24th 2013 @ 10:37am
              jameswm said | January 24th 2013 @ 10:37am | ! Report

              He’s “looked to improce”? Come again?

              He’s still as clumsy as ever.

              • Roar Pro

                January 24th 2013 @ 11:05am
                aggregated drupe said | January 24th 2013 @ 11:05am | ! Report

                His keeping was much better yesterday.

              • Roar Rookie

                January 24th 2013 @ 4:54pm
                Wilson Flatley said | January 24th 2013 @ 4:54pm | ! Report

                You’ve got to be kidding.. “looked to improve”?? this is merely unfounded spin from Ian Healy trying to blow is own horn in the commentary box, there were barely any chances for him to take as half the sri lankans were bowled anyway. India will be the real test; these few one day and t20 matches do not give anything like a proper account of where he is as a keeper. It is not disputed that he is athletic and can adequately take the odd catch or stumping; his concentration is the issue, especially with spinners. They’d better be taking Hads along, i feel Wade’s days could be numbered.

              • Roar Guru

                January 24th 2013 @ 7:27pm
                TheGenuineTailender said | January 24th 2013 @ 7:27pm | ! Report

                Wade’s days may be numbered but Haddin’s not?

            • January 24th 2013 @ 12:02pm
              Mango Jack said | January 24th 2013 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

              As I said elsewhere..

              Regarding Wade, it was interesting following his reaction to Healy’s criticism. I reckon Healy saw problems with his technique (he was right) and was testing him out by going public. I thought Wade responded really well. He said all the right things and took it on board, and is starting to show signs of improvement, though he still inexplicably drops some simple takes. Wade has the right personal attribues of a good test keeper. They are a bit like rugby halfbacks, cocky little ba$tards that get in the batsmen’s face, chatting all the time, keeping feildsmen on their toes. Once he sorts out the few issues with technique, I think he will have a long test career.

      • January 24th 2013 @ 11:37am
        Vivek said | January 24th 2013 @ 11:37am | ! Report

        Agree mostly with you mate, get Khawaja in at 4 and Watto to open, but not sure about replacing Lyon with Hogg, give him the Indian series to show what he can do.

    • January 24th 2013 @ 7:27am
      Tony Tea said | January 24th 2013 @ 7:27am | ! Report

      Thanks, Captain Obvious.

    • January 24th 2013 @ 7:30am
      Garfield Robinson said | January 24th 2013 @ 7:30am | ! Report

      Wont beat India either.

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