Australia favourites for 2017 Ashes thanks to strength of home batting

Giri Subramanian Roar Guru

By Giri Subramanian, 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.

    » 2017 Ashes Squads

    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

    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.

    There have been upsets aplenty in the World Cup so far, so be sure to check out our expert tips and predictions for South Korea vs Sweden, Belgium vs Panama and England vs Tunisia and get the good oil on who to tip tonight.

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    The Crowd Says (12)

    • October 7th 2017 @ 2:43am
      Jumbo said | October 7th 2017 @ 2:43am | ! Report

      The Aussies will start hot favourites, and rightly so.

      I think the real question is: who would win a bar fight between Warner and Stokes?

    • October 7th 2017 @ 3:43am
      Brasstax said | October 7th 2017 @ 3:43am | ! Report

      Stokes simply because he is a way bigger man and has more brute strength.

    • October 7th 2017 @ 3:47am
      Brasstax said | October 7th 2017 @ 3:47am | ! Report

      On a more serious note, while we do start as favorites simply because we are playing at home, I cannot help thinking that maybe our chances have been overly blown up while the Poms’ chances simultaneously downplayed.

      Remember that while Cummins and Starc are quick it remains to be seen if they are able to replicate the barrage of throat grabbers that Johnson did last time.

      Also last time we were five down for not many several times and were bailed out by Haddin and Johnson with the bat. If the same thing happens who will bail us out? Wade/Nevil and Starc?

      • Roar Guru

        October 7th 2017 @ 10:54am
        Giri Subramanian said | October 7th 2017 @ 10:54am | ! Report

        The reason England’s chances are downplayed is because of some baffling selections in their Ashes squad. Their batting relies heavily on Bairstow, Cook and Root. Moeen has had a wonderful year but again it will be interesting how he will cope with short pitched bowling on hard Australian wickets.

      • October 14th 2017 @ 1:06pm
        BurgyGreen said | October 14th 2017 @ 1:06pm | ! Report

        Cummins and Starc trying to blow England away with short stuff would be a huge mistake in my opinion. They both have good bouncers but it’s not their primary wicket-taking strength. They are vastly different bowlers to Johnson. Johnson’s unique effectiveness with the short ball was not only due to his raw pace (Starc and Cummins are both faster) – it was his left-arm angle (which Cummins doesn’t have), along with his unusual sidearm action (which neither Starc nor Cummins have) and his uncanny ability to accurately target the batsman’s throat (which Starc doesn’t have).

        They just need to keep doing what they are doing now – Starc pitching it up and looking for inswing, Cummins bowling a good length with tight lines and swinging it away from the bat, with the occasional bouncer as a change-up. This is how they get their wickets, no point trying to emulate a freak series from a guy whose unique method was tailor-made for bowling short.

    • October 7th 2017 @ 5:29am
      ColinP said | October 7th 2017 @ 5:29am | ! Report

      Don’t know about cummins because we haven’t seen him bowl with a red ball on a wicket with pace for years….he’s clearly class but unknown quantity still. Starc is obviously quick on speed gun, but he only looks too quick for batsmen bowling full not short. I think he will be less effective trying to bounce people out, hazelwood is akin to broad, so just Cummins probably. I remember hearing a few of the England players say that although Johnson was quick on the speed gun, he felt 10kmph quicker because he was so hard to pick up due to slingy action….I don’t think we will see that kind of pace this ashes

      • Roar Guru

        October 7th 2017 @ 10:51am
        Giri Subramanian said | October 7th 2017 @ 10:51am | ! Report

        Cummins bowling with Starc and Hazlewood will be crucial for Australia. Hazelwood has the best record among pacers in Australia over the last couple of years. Starc is the next best and Lyon will be crucial as well.

    • October 7th 2017 @ 11:45am
      Paul said | October 7th 2017 @ 11:45am | ! Report

      morning Giri

      I read your headline and my first reaction was “I don’t think so”.

      Australia will be favourites for sure but I think this has more to do with our bowling than our batting. I’m confident Australia can take 20 wickets 5 times, assuming Starc, Hazlewood, Cummins and Lyons are fit. More to the point, these guys either are in good form (Lyons & Cummins) or were in good form, prior to being injured.

      I take your point about our top order batting in Australia but I can’t say any of these guys are in cracking Test form, given the difficulties they’ve faced overseas. Warner has recently made good one-day runs but his Test form has been patchy. Renshaw has struggled as has Handscomb and Smith has the weight of the world on his shoulders while he struggles to master the captaincy role. Maxwell and Wade don’t rate at all in this discussion, they are so badly out of form.

      The thing that I’d like to see early on is runs from these guys, to show they haven’t lost their confidence. They don’t have to score hundreds, but 2 or 3 digs where they occupy the crease in a Shield game and make a good 60 or 70 would send the right message.

      • Roar Guru

        October 8th 2017 @ 10:00am
        Giri Subramanian said | October 8th 2017 @ 10:00am | ! Report

        I think the Aussie batting has been struggling in the subcontinent for about a decade now and it has not affected their batting at home much. If you look at Australia’s struggles barring Smith in Sri Lanka and India and compare that to the run fest they had against Pakistan right after that, it will give you an idea. The Aussie batting is very strong at home and I don’t think the English bowling is strong enough to trouble them. If Stokes does not make it they are going to struggle.

    • October 11th 2017 @ 3:03pm
      Timmuh said | October 11th 2017 @ 3:03pm | ! Report

      I would say it had been only Smith who has not been criticised for away form with the bat. Bangladesh aside, Warner has been poor on slow decks.
      At home the batting is stronger, but still brittle. More likely to score 500, less likely but still fairly likely to crumble for 150.

      Australia start favourites, so long as the three of Starc, Cummins and Hazelwood can play together in most matches. One more injury and its fairly balanced. Two more, England are probably favoured.

      • Roar Guru

        October 14th 2017 @ 11:12am
        Giri Subramanian said | October 14th 2017 @ 11:12am | ! Report

        Well Warner did surprise in the Bangladesh tour by scoring back to back hundreds. He also scored a hundred in India so he wasn’t that bad over the past few months. The Australian bowling will rely on Starc, Cummins, Hazelwood and Lyon. I hope that Jason Behrendorff is part of Australia’s Ashes plan this year. He was really impressive in India.

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