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The Ashes 2015: Preview

Image: talkSPORT.com
So, here it is! One of the most iconic and symbolic things in the sport, moreover the most entertaining series in Test Cricket—The Ashes. Get ready for the thrill and action. Buckle up and stay alert because a tempestuous battle between two of the best sides in the game are going to have a go against each other. The mighty Aussies won't stop whatever it may be, while the Three Lions are firm on their target and raring to go.

So far, England's reprisals since losing the Ashes 5-0 have been unconvincing.We've lost Ryan Harris and sacked our best player.And as Australia named a 17-man squad for this summer's flagship Investec Test series, barely 36 hours after lifting the World Cup for a fifth time (that's another 5-0 to Oz, England, the inventors of the game have never won it), England are already on the back foot. 
Image: Nick Potts / PA

Mitchell Johnson, the destroyer who took 37 wickets at 13.97 each in five Tests Down Under last time, has a new companion and a potential competitor in the form of Mitchell Starc, another left-arm rocket-launcher who was the Man of the series and arguably the best bowler at the World Cup.Englishmen should expect more short stuff than the last time.

Australia squad analysis

With Ryan Harris hanging up his boots in the wake of the first test due to a knee injury, Peter Siddle, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins form the pace attack. England should know what's coming: They are going to get bombed! Here’s the complete squad analysis and assessment.

Strengths

The World Champions in the 2015 World Cup followed by the victory over the West Indies in the test series, the Australians are doing every thing right at the moment and it will not be much difficult for them to carry on with the momentum.

Possession of an in-form fast bowler in Mitchell Starc will be a huge boost for them. Starc was the leading wicket taker in the World Cup and surely he will torment the English batsmen in the series.

Michael Clarke has been an extremely strategic captain and he has led his team right from the front and understands the game situations decently well.
Image: London Evening Standard
Batsmen in the likes of Steve Smith, Clarke, David Warner, Shane Watson and others have been in the scoring ways and they might dominate upon the English bowlers.

Weaknesses

Shaun Marsh has struggled in recent times and there has been a dilemma about the opening pair in the test squad. This might well be a major concern for the Aussies.

Nathan Lyon has been their front line off-spinner but the team does lack spinning options. Fawad Ahmed has been picked in the squad but he lacks experience in the international level.

Opportunities

Australia do possess the history of defeating England 5-0 in Australia, the last time these two sides met in a test series. This will boost up their cause.

Broad has been struggling a bit with his form of late and that could be taken advantage of by the Aussies.

England lacks a specialist spinner and this might go well for the Aussies as they are way much more comfortable against the pace bowling.
Image: Stuff.co.nz
The English batsmen have been uncomfortable against the Australian bowling line up in the likes of Starc and Johnson. This might well benefit the Aussies.

Threats

England’s Joe Root has been in scintillating coming into the Ashes and he might well stand up against the Australian bowlers to inflict big scores.

Australia were defeated in the last Ashes in England in 2013 so that might be running into their minds somewhere.

Mitchell Johnson admitted of late that the death of Phil Hughes affected his bowling. Unfortunately, a number of players are yet to recover themselves mentally from that sad incident.

England squad analysis

After sacking one of their best players, Kevin Pietersen, England have only weakened their case for the cause. While their squad relatively inexperienced, there’s still some hope with capacitive the young bunch. Joe Root, Ian Bell, James Anderson are some of the bright lights in the dark England dressing room.

Strengths

England can be severely dangerous on their home soil. They have managed to make things tough for New Zealand of late and they have a good history of winning at the home soils in the recent past.

Some of the top order batsmen of England have been in brilliant form of late. These names include Alastair Cook, Joe Root and others. This will give an edge for the English team.
Image: Sky Sports
Anderson and Broad have managed to utilize the fullest from the English pitches in the past and they do swing the ball decently well. So, home conditions will aid the English team in this regard.

Weaknesses

England will be lacking a quality spinner. Moeen Ali will be there alongside Adil Rashid but the question lies upon the fact that how effective are they going to be.

Inexperience might grow up to be a big factor. There are five players in the English squad in the likes of Adil Rashid, Adam Lyth, Mark Wood, Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali who haven’t played an Ashes test. This might count in as a factor.

Opportunities

Australia, being the visitors, needs to adjust to the English conditions and outfields which might be a positive for the England team.

Of late, left arm pacer of Australia, Mitchell Johnson has not been in great form and this might well come handy for the English batsmen to pose further damages.

Threats

Australian test side has performed extremely well of late. After Australia’s World Cup triumph, they managed to beat West Indies 2-0 in the test series in West Indies.

Steve Smith has been in glamorous form all this while and has scored a century even in the warm up game in England.
Image: Indian Express
Alastair Cook’s captaincy has been criticized for a number of times due to some flaws. They can recur.

Australian team is the favourite for the tournament as of now, and on the paper.
  
History of the Ashes

It all started when English Cricket died at the Oval in 1882 and the rest is history. Down the memory lane, some moments from the past:

English cricket dies at the Oval (1882)

The leaves had started to change their colours, and the transformation of England's landscape into an array of autumn colors was slowly taking place. But, the grass at the Kennington Oval in South London was jazzy-green. 
Image: The Guardian
The thronging crowd was excited for the beginning of the ninth first class cricket (known as a Test match in modern day cricket) which was about to take place between the inventors of the game and a combined team from the Australian colonies. England appeared to be prepared and confident as they had remained unbeaten on their home soil while the Australians were trying to stress on the positives. 

At that point of time,nobody would have imagined that this play of two days cricket would later go on and become one of the most talked-about events in the history of the sport and of course a great rivalry between two nations. 

Adam Gilchrist’s century—second fastest in test cricket (2006)

On December 16, 2006, Adam Gilchrist hammered a hundred in just 57 balls at Perth, missing the world record by a single ball. This knock was a tenacious one considering the fact that the temperature at Perth was over 50 degrees celcius.The knock punctured England’s hopes of fighting back from a 0-2 deficit in the series and helped Australia regain the urn.

With Australia having conceded the Ashes for the first time in 16 years in England in the summer of 2005, Australia’s desire to usurp it was evident ever since the first Test got underway at Brisbane in the November of 2006. Almost three weeks later, they’d bagged two dominating victories — by 277 runs at Brisbane and a six-wicket win at Adelaide — and arrived at the celebrated venue of Perth as favourites. 
Image: CricketCountry.com
Looking at their surge, the Australians were touted to annihilate the English and by the end of the third day’s play it had become a reality, thanks to Michael Hussey’s first Ashes century, Michael Clarke’s second and, most importantly, Adam Gilchrist’s third — a blitzkrieg that injected a long-term damage to the English bowling line-up. The English were on their part, somewhat out of the spirit of the game, bowling a wide when Gilchrist required 3 runs for his century.

Kevin Pietersen and the infamous "silicon tape saga" (2013)

In the 2013 Ashes series allegations were made up on England batsman Kevin Pietersen in relation to the silicon tape used to keep the bat together. Questions were raised whether he was using the tape to get away with the nicks in the DRS- Hotspot system. 
Image: Telegraph.co.uk
Many believed that edges were not showing up on the Review system, but later ICC denied this and no investigation was launched. Amongst all this, Pietersen yet again got his name involved in  a controversy.

Anderson, Clarke and a "broken arm" (2013)

In the same series, it was the first test and England were in the dying stages. Australia were going to win the match practically speaking when drama unfolded. From nowhere George Bailey (Standing at silly point to James Anderson) had some talks with him. 
Image: Telegraph

Anderson was seen talking, not quite happily to Bailey. This prompted Michael Clarke to tell Anderson to “get ready for a broken f**king arm” The stump mic caught the Ausssie skipper saying this and this led to Clarke being fined 20 percent of his match fees.Watch the conversation here.

Lee-McGrath-Gillespie trio

Ever found a better combination than this? I bet you cannot. The triad of Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie and Glenn McGrath was just nonpareil and hence incomparable.

While Brett Lee spiced up his bowling with deadly pace, Glenn McGarth stuck to control and a difficult line to play for the batsman. Jason Gillespie, yes the fellow with long hair, was one of his kind. He formed statistically the most successful pair with McGarth. If Glenn McGrath could get the ball to do just a bit, Gillespie let the ball do too much, the sole reason why he did not become Australia’s number one strike fast bowler. 

We are all set for The Ashes, the wait is almost over.

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TheSportMatrix | We Live For Sport: The Ashes 2015: Preview
The Ashes 2015: Preview
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