The Ashes: Australia can still win BUT not by attacking

We are three days into the first Ashes test for 2015 and already the pundits, both in the paper and on social media, are writing Australia off.  Frankly, I still think Australia can still win but it will take a change in mindset to do it. 

To date in this test match two things have been obvious:

  1. Australia’s game plan has not changed away from the all out attack strategy that works in Australian conditions. 
  2. That game plan is not working. 

Now Australia is faced with a dual task: score 412 runs to win the test match OR bat for two days.  Lets speak freely here: attacking at all costs will mean this game is over by tea day four and England will win.  The English strike bowlers are bowling length and swinging the ball: Australian batting mistakes that flow from being too attacking will fall right into their hands. 

So, how does Australia win? 

To me it is obvious: Australia has to take a page out of the Chris Rogers play book and keep it simple! Watch Rogers bat: he reduces risk by shortening his back lift, pushing balls into gaps and leaving almost everything outside off stump.  In the first innings, this approach led to a scoring rate for Rogers of 70 runs per 100 balls.  If Australia scores at that rate it wins.  

Even if you remove the score rate from the equation, reducing the risk of wickets by taking a less expansive approach leads to England being in the field for longer which reduces the effectiveness of the likes of Broad and Anderson as the day goes on.  It also, obviously, reduces the likelihood of wickets from mistakes.

412 runs over two days, or 180 overs, is a fairly simple equation.  It means Australia has to score at 2.3 runs per over.  There is no need to knock the runs over in one day or as fast as possible.  That would mean a strategy shift for Australia.  I am not sure on current evidence shifting the strategy in this way is in the Lehmann / Clarke play book but only time will tell! 

Cricket: Australian Squads for Winter Tours (including the Ashes) named

Just two days after Australia won the 2015 World Cup, thw National Selection Panel has named a number of squads for the winter tours. 

The squads are:

Test squad Michael Clarke (capt), Steven Smith (vice-capt), Fawad Ahmed, Brad Haddin, Josh Hazlewood, Ryan Harris (Ashes only), Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Peter Nevill, Chris Rogers, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Adam Voges, David Warner, Shane Watson.

Australia A four-day squad Usman Khawaja (capt), Matthew Wade (vice-capt), Ashton Agar, Cameron Bancroft, Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Andrew Fekete, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Nic Maddinson, Glenn Maxwell, Steve O’Keefe, Gurinder Sandhu, Marcus Stoinis.

Australia A one-day squad Usman Khawaja (capt), Matthew Wade (vice-capt), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Cameron Boyce, Joe Burns, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Callum Ferguson, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Chris Lynn, Gurinder Sandhu, Adam Zampa.

Cricket Australia has also named its list contracted players for the 2015/16 season as follows:

George Bailey, Michael Clarke, Pat Cummins, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, James Pattinson, Chris Rogers, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner, Shane Watson.

Regular readers of this blog will have oft read me “go off” about the selection decisions made by the NSP but after the season that was in 2014/15 it is pretty hard to be anything other than complimentary of their work.

The only question mark I will again raise is the fact that the name Chris Hartley is missing from the squad lists.  I can not believe that he is considered to be the 5th best wicketkeeper in the country.  

Cricket: Ashes 2015 Match Schedule announced

The ECB and Cricket Australia have announced the schedule for the 2015 Ashes tour to England and Wales. The matches that matter are as follows:

June 25-28: Four-day match v Kent in Canterbury.
July 1-4: Four-day match v Essex in Chelmsford.
July 8-12: 1st Test v England at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff.
July 16-20: 2nd Test v England at Lord’s, London.
July 23-25: Three-day match v Derbyshire in Derby.
July 29-August 2: 3rd Test v England at Edgbaston, Birmingham.
August 6-10: 4th Test v England at Trent Bridge, Nottingham.
August 14-16: Three-day match v Northants in Northampton.
August 20-24: 5th Test v England at The Oval, London.

Australia will be seeking to retain the Ashes urn convincing won in Australia 5-0 only some 4 months ago.

The battle begins now!!!!