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Jules

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Joined January 2013

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All the talk is about our batsmen struggling against the moving ball, but we actually seem to be losing the vast majority of our wickets all series when it’s a bit dark, particularly by failing to hit straight ones. It’s so bright in Australia compared to England, that many of the players simply might not be that used to picking the ball up in such conditions. Fortunately it looks like it will be brighter for the second innings…

Warner's ugly but crucial Ashes innings

Yes, South Africa 2014 was obviously his bright spot in terms of overseas performance (as Ronan points out in the article), but that was a long time ago now!

Warner and Khawaja face make or break Ashes Test

Hi U, I know you’re not a big fan of Paine, but he’s what we need right now as a captain in pretty extraordinary circumstances and still the best ‘keeper in Australia to spinners. Given Head’s form so far this series and Carey’s world cup, I don’t reckon you’ll see any more of Paine after this summer’s tests — he’ll be almost 36 by the time the tests after than (against Afghanistan and India) roll around late next year. He seems like a quality individual and was unlucky with injuries, so I hope for his sake he pulls off this Ashes series at least.

I think I agree with you on the bowling attack and would go with Cummins, Pattinson and Starc, pulling Starc off immediately if he can’t control the swing of the new ball and bringing him back on with the old ball as an enforcer (if he’s bowling fast enough in the nets) or for reverse (if that ever happens). Hazlewood looked a bit flat again in the second innings, so might not be up for back-to-back matches and, while Siddle was still good, they almost seem to have started to work out how to deal with him. I guess the Starc vs Siddle decision will depend on how green the pitch is again, but visiting teams have made lots of runs in past years at Headingley and this August doesn’t seem to be a time for making raging green tops.

Warner and Khawaja face make or break Ashes Test

Further to my comment way down the bottom, here are the unadulterated statistics of our top-seven batsmen in this series:
Batter:Runs/HS/Average/Average balls per innings
Bancroft:44/16/11.0/40.5;
Warner:18/8/4.5/12.5;
Khawaja:91/40/22.8/33.3;
Smith:378/144/126.0/195.7;
Head:135/51/45.0/72.0;
Wade:118/110/29.5/49.5;
Paine:66/34/16.5/36.3;
Labuschagne:59/59/59.0/100.0
Khawaja isn’t even that far off Wade in terms of runs scored and averaged and well ahead of Bancroft and Paine. Warner is in another postcode, at least Bancroft has seen off the new ball for an average of 28 more balls per innings.
If Smith is fit for Leeds, Bancroft will probably miss out with Khawaja and Warner opening (with Warner’s performances, Khawaja has been effectively opening anyway), but it’s clearly Warner who should be under the most pressure.

Warner and Khawaja face make or break Ashes Test

Good news, though his way into the test team seems to depend less on his exploits with the bat and more on (1) showing that he can keep well to spin; and (2) Travis Head establishing himself as a batsman, so he can take over the captaincy from Paine (which he’s happily doing for now).

Warner and Khawaja face make or break Ashes Test

Fair call, but wouldn’t this equally apply to Warner? The only innings of his under pressure I can remember was against NZ in Hobart many years ago and I think Khawaja’s more recent effort in the UAE was probably better, partly because we didn’t lose the match. When has Warner stood up in tough conditions overseas and got us an otherwise unlikely result? Most of Warner’s tons in my memory were made on hard roads in Australia when both teams made or looked likely to they should make 500-odd, and I don’t remember him even making too many of those in the last four years.

Warner and Khawaja face make or break Ashes Test

So Warner hasn’t even managed to make it to 10 once, has constantly looked like getting out (since his first ball of the series not given out LB when he was) and is averaging 4.5, while Khawaja has made two decent contributions out of four including a very important one in the second innings at Edgbaston, looked generally fluid and is averaging 23, yet you have Khawaja on his last chance and Warner isn’t? I really don’t get this Warner favouritism sometimes.

Warner and Khawaja face make or break Ashes Test

Seriously, Ronan, hiding Warner’s abject lack of run-scoring by combining his paltry number of runs with Khawaja’s? Of those 109 combined runs, only 18 are Warner’s, meaning he’s averaging only 4.5. Khawaja has made 91 at 23, which is, while not amazing, in a different category to Warner’s performance. I also note the lack of stats in support of your broad claim that Warner has a “far superior test record to Khawaja” — I’d be interested in the actual numbers.
Plenty of people on here use spurious statistics to help their favourite players, but your articles are usually much better than that.

Warner and Khawaja face make or break Ashes Test

Nice article with plenty of deserved praise for Josh who was truly excellent last night. But there were also things that bode less well for Australia in the day’s play…
Will you also be writing an article on Warner at some stage, Ronan? I know you’re a massive fan, but to many of the rest of us, it’s not that surprising to see him look like a lamb to the slaughter in overseas conditions against decent test bowling. Is there a new technical fault in your opinion? Why didn’t he play the tour game if a lack of red-ball cricket was the problem last test?
Our openers are a massive concern for me and I wouldn’t be surprised if we ended the series with Uzzie opening and Labu at 3.

Hazlewood fires in Ashes comeback

I don’t know why Warner was rested from the tour game. It’s not like he was out there batting for a lot of the First test and he’s hardly had any red ball cricket in a year.

If Justin Langer is right, Tim Paine doesn’t want to win the toss at Lord's

If this is true, Starc is going to struggle to get a game this series. Probably his own fault for being so expensive in the warm-up and tour games, but quite remarkable given his white-ball form.

Pattinson left out of second Test squad with Starc, Hazlewood included

How many did Burns play and miss at or edge in his first innings hundred?

Archer can have a big impact on the Ashes

Paine took a very good catch off Lyon last night. Carey needs to show that he’d be more likely to pouch that than spill it before they can give him the test gloves.

First Ashes Test rests on Smith's bat

Yes, it really jagged back, when nothing really had done so in the ten previous overs. Unfortunately for Ussie, he’s edging them rather than being lucky enough to play and miss right now. He looked excellent last night and could yet have a very good series. Even if we lose this, I’m optimistic about how our 3,4,5 are batting. Of course, they’re occasionally going to get a great ball in England so we need more from 1,2,6 and 7.

First Ashes Test rests on Smith's bat

I’m not sure England bowled that well at all, to be honest, the Aussie bats and the umpires made their bowling look better than it was. Stokes was spraying balls everywhere, resorted to some weird kind of body-line tactic by the end and got a wicket with his only quality ball. Ali wasn’t that threatening and often bowled too short or too full. Broad was quick and beat the bat a lot with his leg-cutters, but got one of the luckiest test 5-fors you’ll see (Warner and Pattinson given out to (bad) balls sliding down leg, Paine putting a pie down deep square let’s throat and Smith cleaned up slogging; only the Bancroft wicket was a good ball). Woakes bowled best and got scalps executing quality plans, but looked very manageable on a track like this when the ball got soft and he was a little tired.
On this pitch, Australia will have to bowl a lot better than an admittedly unluckily understaffed England to win this test.

Steve Smith once again saves Australia from Ashes embarrassment

We wearily raised this on the live feed. I was too young for Hughes but the value this one of Smith’s among the best Australian test innings for the difficulty and the context. Steve Waugh has some candidates, with his 200 at Sabina Park after his equally remarkable 60-odd against Ambrose on a green-top the previous test for sending us to the top of the tree. Michael Clarke too, not just that South African innings you mention, but also his debut hundred in India to help us conquer the final frontier and I have a vague memory of one crisp innings with everyone falling around him in England. From memory, Mark Waugh also played one ridiculous and almost out-of-character test innings in South Africa, but I can’t remember the context. Dean Jones in Madras and Usman Khawaja in the UAE last year probably also deserve a mention for lone hands in tough conditions and match situations.

Steve Smith once again saves Australia from Ashes embarrassment

I’ll believe it when I see it play like that under cloud cover. England would be silly to have overcooked the pitch for a game in which none of Archer, Wood or Stone will play.

The Ashes: England vs Australia, first Test preview, prediction

I find it weird to be saying this given what I thought of him nine months ago, but I think Labuschagne will play (I saw that Hohns is in Birmingham) and I don’t mind that. I worry that Wade would be too similar to Head coming in just before he would.

The Ashes: England vs Australia, first Test preview, prediction

The selectors will never overcome their obsession with having a seam-bowling all-rounder in the top six, especially against England of Flintoff and Stokes fame. They’ll therefore give Marsh every chance.

Selectors announce Australia's 17-man Ashes squad

The irony of this is that the only bowler from the Hick XII who looks a chance of getting picked, Patto, is wicketless for the moment.

Why the Australia-Australia A clash is so important

The analysis here is excellent other than by missing the fact that if Harris is selected to open over Burns and Patterson retained at six, with Head a lock and Khawaja already batting in the nets, we’d have 5 lefties in the top six. For mine, that just doesn’t seem like a good idea against Anderson and Woakes on seaming tracks, allowing them to just put the ball in the same place every ball and let the pitch do the work. It would also allow England to play Moeen Ali when they already bat dangerously deep. Even the best batsman among our likely bowlers (Patto), is a leftie. I am therefore hoping to (not) see (but at least hear) that one of the right-handers (preferably Burns) played the moving ball well in the warm-up game. I couldn’t care if he ended up batting at 5 or 6, he seems to know how to fight for Test runs.

Five Ashes spots up for grabs tomorrow

Certainly an interesting game for us cricket nerds. Will it be televised or streamed on the CA website or is it going to be played behind closed doors? I’d love to see how Warner plays Lyon, but I’m not sure I’d love England to see how he does.

Five Ashes spots up for grabs tomorrow

Khawaja will be fine. According to CA, he’s already doing warm-up with his teammates and batting in the nets. 11 days is a long time to get from there to fighting fit after a minor hamstring injury. You look like you’re searching for something to write about today, Ronan.

The bigger issue is Jhye Richardson. Looks like he will miss the whole English summer. I know we have some fast bowling depth right now, but still such a shame.

Bancroft or Labuschagne could take Khawaja's Ashes spot

I agree that Burns should be in the team, even if they want to open with Harris. He seems better than most against the moving ball, is coming off consistently big runs (including in Tests) and is a right-hander in a lefty-heavy top six with Warner, Khawaja and Head basically certainties. For mine, either Burns opens and the batsman who’s looking in the best form against the moving ball bats six (Patterson, Pucovksi, Labuschagne, Wade etc) or Harris opens and Burns bats 6. It would be risky to leave Burns out and have 5 lefties in the top six, there’s enough pressure on Smith’s batting already.

Picking the Ashes squad is more straightforward than you think

I can agree that we move in different and differently-sized circles, FunBus, if you don’t think England’s 1966 football WC win was controversial. The English sports fans I was talking about were admittedly living out of the UK and in the football-obsessed parts of the non-English-speaking world, so were regularly confronted with this.

And incidentally, the Swiss referee was overruled by the Russian linesman who was reportedly asked on his death-bed why he was so sure the ball had crossed into the German goal and replied: “Stalingrad”.
That tournament was so controversial it caused all sorts of diplomatic incidents. Not knowing about it is not your fault, but testimony to the existence of the English sports-press bubble that is particularly prominent in football.

New Zealand were robbed in the World Cup final