The 2013 Ashes Series in Review
Well the 2013 Ashes has seen the Australians completely turn around the results of recent years. English players have been leaving these shores and retiring, while those that have stayed have been battered both physically and emotionally.
One man’s name has loomed large over proceedings, Mitchell Johnson is back in a big way, after a period out of favour with the selectors. This is much more than a return to form; the man is in career best form and sending down balls far too fast and accurate for the English batsmen to cope with.
The signs were there for all to see in the last Ashes series, which England won 3-0 but the Aussies were unlucky not to win at least two tests. The Aussie bowling attack was good in England and only the batting let them down. Now with the addition of Johnson and some decent batting performances from Clarke, Warner and especially Brad Haddin, (not to mention some handy runs from Johnson too) it would be a brave man who would bet against Australia taking the series 5-0 in Sydney.
While Johnson is the name on the lips of all Australian supporters, the one that English fans must be mentioning in hushed tones is that of their Captain, Alistair Cook. His form with the bat has been poor, by his own lofty standards, while his captaincy has left much to be desired. He has rarely set an attacking field, even in the brief periods when England has been on top in the series.
Admittedly his bowlers have not really given him the attacking power that they have in recent years. Graham Swann, rated as the best spinner around for some time, complained of a sore arm and retired after the 3rd test. The timing could not have been worse and reeked of submission.
Anderson has been far from the potent weapon that England have been able to rely on in the past.
The man Aussies love to hate, Stuart Broad, has been the best of a bad bunch, despite some harsh treatment from the local media and fans at the grounds. Add to that the battering he has received at the hands of Johnson and I believe he will walk the next time he is given the benefit of a ridiculous umpiring decision.
While Mitchell Johnson has been the talk of every town on the tour, he has been ably backed up by those men that toured England last year. Siddle, Harrison and Lyon have all taken their fair share of wickets and kept constant pressure on the English batsmen.
So will Sydney again be the story of the Mo? Or will the famously turning pitch be Lyon’s day in the sun? What will England do for spin? Monty Panesar replaced Swann in Melbourne, but Cook did not give him many overs, even favouring fresh faced Joe Root with the ball over Monty.
There is no doubt that Sydney will be worth watching. There are no dead rubbers in an Ashes series and we know that England are optimistic, as they still put on sun screen before they go out to bat. The on field sledging and spats are bound to continue and it will definitely be lively.
Does anyone want to bet against Mitchell Johnson being man of the series? Do that in a double with England winning the match and you may as well burn your money.
By Max Power