The Ashes 2006: The Last Preview
Posted by Sports Snob on November 22, 2006
By the time you’ll be reading this article, it is possible that the coin would have been tossed beside a fast bouncy pitch at Gabba, and after endless hype, buzz, debates, jibes and so on, the oldest battle in this glorious sport would be on once more. Nearly all the hype that’s been generated is thanks to the edge-of-the-seat thriller that the two teams put on last year, where even the drawn matches had more twists in plot than anything Hitchcock could have conjured. And if the two teams manage to come up with a similar show this time around, statisticians world over will start having to make major changes to the Law of Averages.
Speaking of statisticians, let’s take a look at what the predictions are for this time around. And what better place to check out, than the various betting sites. And in spite of all the hoopla about how this series is going to be a closely fought one, and so on, everyone from ladbrokes to bet365 agree that Australia are firm favourites. So, if you’re a Barmy-Army types and really believe in England’s chances of winning this series, go ahead and bet on it, there’s quite some money to be made. One cannot really blame the bookies for having made such skewed predictions.
Apart from all the standard reasons like home advantage, world class performers (however old they may be, they are proven), etc. the way the England team has performed in the three tour matches, have only confirmed the bookies’ beliefs. First they got thulped by the Prime Minister’s XI, where the margin of loss was not just insulting, but you also had their ‘upcoming hopes’ like Saj Mahmood go for 10+ runs per over, and you had Phil Jacques, who not until long ago was a British passport holder, cream the English attack all over the Australian capital. Next, they played a 3 day match against NSW at Sydney, where in spite of a sparkling century by Kevin Pietersen, they could not grab the first innings lead, even. Their last practice match was another 3-day affair, against South Australia this time, and though the batting further improved (with Ian Bell cashing in this time, probably to no avail as Jamie Anderson later took a jab at his tender wrists in the nets mostly putting paid to his chances of playing in the first test), but the bowling remained as clueless as ever, with Saj Mahmood’s getting his economy down to around 6 this time considering it was a test match and all.
Given this state of affairs, I don’t give England much of a chance, at least not in the first two tests. But then the English being English, and the Ashes being the Ashes, and me being a lover of good cricket; I predict there is going to be something is going to give at the exceptionally bouncy WACA pitch; an inspired Flintoff spell; Pietersen, who never gives a damn about pitch conditions anyway, taking a liking to the hook shot that sails over the long leg fence; and voila!, the next two matches in the series will again attract record viewership, cricket will make the front pages again, and this blog will be back with more colorful predictions. Until then, I’ll at least have the smug satisfaction of having got the last word in before the Ashes took off.This blog is after all, the last word for all things sport.
– Thejaswi Udupa
(This guest writer is a management student in Bangalore. He is a well known quizzer and was the youngest semi-finalist at Mastermind India. He will be reviewing the Ashes again after the second test)
Thejaswi: 3-1 to Australia
Z: 3-1 to Australia
Prof: 3-1 to Australia
What do you think? Let us know.