The past week in Australian cricket has been one of the more disappointing and acrimonious periods in recent years, with the emotions and accusations very much resembling the floor of Federal Parliament at Question Time… only this is way more important.
Regardless how we got here, we all have to remember the Ashes starts in less than three weeks, so rather dwell on negatives of the recent past, we should be focusing on this series and all the positives that we can take leading into it.
Australia’s going to have a 47th Test captain and I’m glad Pat Cummins has scored the job.
There’s a view, probably put about by batsmen, that fast bowlers ain’t real smart and can’t captain any side, let alone the most important team in the land. Pat gets to have a crack and I have confidence he’ll prove the doubters wrong.
His appointment adds another layer to the Ashes. I’m really keen to see how he manages his workload and whether his bowling will continue at the same high level as we’ve seen in previous years.
Another aspect will be how he works with his vice-captain, Steve Smith, especially when it comes to things like DRS, field placements, etc.
The other obvious issue is how he manages across the five Test series. At some point he’s likely to have to tell one or more of his fast bowling mates they’re not playing, yet he’ll have to play the whole series.
Marcus Harris is going to open presumably for the full series. I genuinely hope he does well and finally scores at least one or more Test tons. George Bailey clearly has confidence in him and so does Dave Warner, who will hopefully carry over his excellent white ball form.
His battle against Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson and Ollie Robinson will worth the price of admission alone.
In the 1930s, England was seriously fearful that Bill Ponsford and Don Bradman would get together and make massive partnerships. They did so twice, once at Leeds (388) and again at the Oval (451) – in the same series.
Joe Root has to be concerned Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith will do something similar. If they do, it will likely be some of the best Test batting seen in a very long time.
Usman Khawaja or Travis Head – who cares, as long as they bat like they have been in the Shield. Ditto with Cameron Green, who is overdue to take a Test wicket. Look out for the team celebration when he does so.
I can’t think of a time when Australian cricket was blessed with so many top quality batsmen/keepers. Josh Inglis and Alex Carey are the frontrunners for Brisbane but Jimmy Pierson is making a bid and even Josh Philippe could be a smokie.
It may come down to who does best in the coming practice matches, but whoever scores the spot, will do a terrific job, I’m sure.
The lift the bowling squad must have received in recent weeks is enormous. One of their own is captain of the side and three of the Test regulars helped Australia to a completely unexpected World Cup victory.
The quicks are all in impressive form, as are Jhye Richardson, Brendon Doggett, Scott Boland and Mark Steketee. Again, those practice matches could assume huge importance in deciding who will bowl in the First Test.
And let’s not forget the GOAT. Nathan Lyon seems to have been sitting 399 Test wickets forever. There’s no doubt he’ll pass the 400 in this series and hopefully number 400 is a memorable dismissal for all the right reasons.
And of course there’s the Poms. Joe Root’s batting, if he gets going, the quality of the England attack, just how well will Ben Stokes go – all things to really look forward to viewing.
Finally, one of the best positives is being able to watch these games live, for those lucky enough to be able to get to a day’s play. I’m really looking forward to hearing from Roar fans who make it to a Test.
I reckon there’ll be some terrific cricket played this series. Both squads really lift when it comes to playing in the Ashes and it makes no difference how many top notch players there are, the intensity will be massive.
As always it will come down to which team can win the most key moments and that will start with the first coin toss for Pat Cummins on the eighth of December.
I can’t wait.