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I always thought Wilson was a better 6 for the Wallabies and vice versa for Valetini at 8.

Get your questions in for Issue 39 of Coach's Corner

Geoff Boycott reiterates this time and time again in an Ashes series, the Aussies are up for it and are always looking to win a fight and not necessarily just sledging. I think England prioritise the Ashes mainly for the financial gain rather than the history and intense rivalry both fans love.

Are Australia really that much better than England?

I think Australia, although certainly have issues, are not far at all from being a seriously good team. Right now, they’re a good-very good team and easily in the top 2-3 Test playing teams in the world. One thing overlooked is that this Australian team can at least grasp the basics of Test cricket, something England and many other nations cannot, which is batting long periods, leaving well and relentless top-of-off stump bowling. Pucovski will be back in the mix, and for Asia, Labuschagne, Smith and Khawaja are top players of spin. Judging by Kyle Jamieson, Cummins and Hazlewood should perform well in Asia especially in Karachi and certain Indian wickets. The only issue is Starc, Lyon and whether Sri Lanka set up a rank bunsen.

Are Australia really that much better than England?

Tour from hell volume 4?

Drinking culture, fat shaming and a tactical disaster: England's Ashes nightmare revealed

Think Rizwan and Pant are neck and neck. I suppose Pant played the more memorable and eye-catching knocks. Jamieson, Rahul and Conway are very unlucky not to make this side. Don’t think Hasan Ali would make any pace line up in Australia, NZ or India.

The best Test cricket XI of 2021

I think it’s good they’re slow; it wears down England’s attack. They’re already quite uninventive when it’s not swinging, so wearing them down into the dirt is what Labuschagne and Smith do well.

Numbers show Smith in midst of biggest form slump since 2013

Very true; he doesn’t look comfortable at all against Wood. I think Jimmy also had his number in the 2015 Ashes series when the pitches weren’t London roads. Smith learnt from averaging 33 apart from the Oval and Lord’s when he became immense from that series onwards.

Numbers show Smith in midst of biggest form slump since 2013

At the end of the day, Kohli, Smith and co having a form slump isn’t something absurd. Every legend goes through these periods (Cook, Clarke, Ponting, Sachin) ; their record is quite impeccable if they were to retire today, both with 27 test tons. Given Smith has dominated the past 3 Ashes series, it’s probably about time he had some lack of success against England. Plus this slump will be cushioned by the fact Australia are about to win the Ashes.

Numbers show Smith in midst of biggest form slump since 2013

The Saffers would be even worse right now touring Aus. Even the Boks can’t win down under

DAY 1 REPORT: England on the canvas as Aussies dominate lopsided Boxing Day fight

Do you think Dupont is so individually world class, he let France down in the 6N? I think Squidge said in some video, possibly against Ireland that Dupont just backs his ability so much which leads to him occasionally playing the wrong play or making the wrong decision- he’s just so class that the error is understated?

Why Michael Hooper should have been World Rugby's player of the year

Almost thought about an Australian batting lineup for a second there

Why Michael Hooper should have been World Rugby's player of the year

I mean that’s just false; Hooper is the 3rd best 7 ever to play the game after Mccaw and Pocock. Pretty sure England’s previous lack of an out and out 7 was fixed by youngsters actually modelling their game on Hooper and co etc.

Wallabies miss out as Dupont named player of the year

Is this like Rugby where Australia’s best player repeatedly gets marked down because of some absurd bias against him?

VOTE: DIY player ratings from the first Ashes Test

I thought the Wallabies were good in 2001 in all fairness. On the rise now though

When the Gabba fortress was nearly breached

I’m English but I do watch a hell of a load of Rugby in Australia; Lolesio is very good when no pressure’s on him. Haven’t seen much of Harrison but Ben Donaldson the Tahs 10 with the mullet is ok.

The next batch: The Wallabies to watch for 2022

It’s interesting to hear commentator’s rationale for the Gabba fortress, similar to Eden Park’s All Black dominance- most of them say if it’s the first game of a tour, away teams are severely underprepped and not up to facing the heat, bounce and Australian crowd. This Ashes test will have the most peculiar build-up with little preparation and forecasts of rain. Like the last test in 2017-18, it was rain affected and balanced up until England’s second innings collapse- the pitch was not an Australian bouncy wicket. India’s win was a combination of a fairytale, near fluke performance from Pant and an Indian team with virtually nothing to lose.

When the Gabba fortress was nearly breached

I think this will be the closest Australian Ashes in a while. Root is in hot form, Stokes performs on the biggest stages and is suited to bat in Australia. Robinson’s length should trouble the Aussies and Broad and Anderson can’t wait to bowl at Harris, Warner and Head. Major issue for them is a quality spinner, which they don’t possess. I think Smith could be due a bad run against England given he’s been so good for the last 3 series. Marnus will be the key wicket. I really can’t see a whitewash or 4-0, so I’m saying 2-1 Australia. Hazlewood and Cummins will come good but I don’t think either side has enough preparation to hit the ground running at what I’m thinking of a rain-affected draw at Brisbane. Australia’s record in day-nighter’s is impeccable, so I really don’t see how England are going to easily win at Adelaide. Either way, Brisbane and Melbourne ( if it’s a flat deck will be a draw, if it’s like the India wicket it’s even) will be the key defining games.

'Most talked-about series in 15 years': My Ashes preview

Depth in Aus looks very strong, they’re building nicely for 2023. A home series against England and away tests against the Boks and NZ will test them, but a lot of talent for sure. Only major concern is a back-up younger 10 and a crash ball at centre.

The next batch: The Wallabies to watch for 2022

Australia nearly beat India in India in 2017, smashed them by 330 odd runs in one game. Currently, NZ are 62 all out in Mumbai and are going to loose heavily. I get NZ are punching above their weight in cricket, which is remarkable; but to suggest they’re the No1 Test team in all conditions is absurd. Their spin bowling is woeful apart from a few competent players whereas their batting ( even with Williamson) is inept at facing spin.

'WHAT'S JUST HAPPENED?' Cricket world in disbelief as NZ spinner stuns India with TEN-wicket haul

It’s because NZ are a pub team when the ball doesn’t swing and there’s the slightest of spin

'WHAT'S JUST HAPPENED?' Cricket world in disbelief as NZ spinner stuns India with TEN-wicket haul

Dmac in all fairness was quite poor this year

Numbers speak to just how hard Rennie is working to find Wallabies' way forward

Can’t wait for Eddie to coach a cricket team

'Sh-t, this guy is nuts': Eddie Jones has a book out and of course it contains some absolute gold

Moreover despite the Headingley review blunder and crucial dropped catches in the India series, Paine hasn’t even been that bad of a captain, wicketkeeper or batsmen. His glove-work is actually quite good, and his batting has involved some gutsy knocks to drive Australia out of troubled positions. At 7, his job isn’t to score daddy hundreds, it’s to play to a situation- and he’s done that on multiple occasions

'Extremely concerned': Paine takes 'mental health break' putting him OUT of first Test with career in doubt

As much as Paine has done wrong, the whole saga is fishy- why did CA instate him as captain when they clearly knew about the texts beforehand in the 2017 Ashes. For the story to be released on the eve of the Ashes and especially for calls for Paine’s removal of captaincy, someone or some people of CA being involved in a media story sell surely isn’t an exaggeration or nonsensical conspiracy theory

'Extremely concerned': Paine takes 'mental health break' putting him OUT of first Test with career in doubt

Wallabies are building nicely, every game matters but an EOYT game lets players learn more in game scenarios which in my view is more valuable than the result, given the 2023 RWC in mind. A 3-0 sweep in the UK does not reflect the questionable referring in Scotland and Wales and a sub-par performance against England. It’s all part of a process rather than peaking too early.

It's been emotional. But much more good than bad for Wallabies in 2021

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