Image courtesy of: The Guardian
Who will gain the bragging rights this year?
Former England captains Nasser Hussain and David Lloyd, along with ex-Australian skipper Ricky Ponting, have all agreed that the bowlers will decide which side claims the coveted urn and bragging rights in the ongoing Ashes series.
All three of them expressed their views in the Daily Mail’s coverage of the historic series.
Ponting noted that the combination of pace and spin could prove to be lethal for both the England and Australian batsmen.
“They (Australia) will have to play at their absolute best but, unusually, our bowling’s our strength going in,” Ponting said. “I’m expecting big things from our bowlers. A lot of it will come down to tosses and conditions.”
Hussain meanwhile believes England pace bowler James Anderson will cause the Australian batsmen the most problems, while off-spinner Graeme Swann will also have an important role to play as the baggy greens have struggled against spin in the past, especially during their tour of India in February-March, where they were whitewashed 4-0.
“Australia are not the side they used to be but I’m not convinced they’re as bad as everyone’s making out,,” Hussain said. “When the ball moves around, Jimmy Anderson can be unplayable. The other problem for Australia is if it starts flat, it will eventually turn, and they haven’t played spin well.”
Lloyd agreed with Hussain’s comments about Australia’s weakness against spin, and said: “Graeme Swann is the key for me. When you’re the home team you try to ask your groundsmen for what you want from pitches, but in my time we had no chance.”
Ponting agreed that while Swann’s spin had to be respected, the Australian batsmen also have to learn from their mistakes in India.
“Yes they should, but in the last series here our batters played him pretty well,” Ponting said. “There should be no excuses for this group considering where they’ve just come from. India has the toughest spinning conditions in the world, so if they didn’t learn about facing spin on those tracks they never will.”
Lloyd stated that England could gain the upper hand against their arch-rivals since many of their bowlers are masters of reverse swing.
“I think with it being dry, that will complement England’s reverse swing, because they’ve got bowlers who are good at that as well,” Lloyd said.