England haven’t lost a series since Sri Lanka in 2003 (almost exactly 2 years ago). Now they’re going to Lahore missing Strauss and Jones and with Giles in need of surgery. Suddenly we’ve got an inexperienced middle order, are unsure as to our best bowling attack and are one nil down with one to play in a difficult tour location playing a team that are playing well above their game (at least on recent form). Looks like that unbeaten run may be about to end.
This is made all the worse by the fact that our next stop on this Ashes warm up run is India, followed by Sri Lanka and Pakistan back in England. Suddenly it’s not looking so easy, particularly if key players keep being either injured or out of form.
Contrast that with the Australians. The introduction of Hussey (one of their finest batsmen and inexplicably ignored for the Ashes). The re-introduction of Symonds (Watson can say what he likes about being the Australian Flintoff, but we all know that Symonds has that honour if he can only stay off the sauce before matches).
Combine these very wise team changes with an uncompetitive series at home against the Windies and (bar the South Africans) a dolly run up to the Ashes and you get the strong feeling that the Aussies will be entering the next Ashes rebuilt and reinvigorated and probably without a loss to their name.
We however, if current form is anything to go by, may well have suffered some hard losses and are likely to have been reminded that we are only world beaters when the best 11 aren’t injured and are firing. It’s a pessimistic view and I hope it’s wrong, but unless Jimmy Anderson finds form (and actually gets to play a match or two) and Cook and others are tested (and found out) quickly there’s a horrible possibility that we’ll look more like the 2002/3 tourists than the 2005 victors.
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