One team is being built up to be better than it probably is while their opponents are being classed as worse than they really are, of course we are talking about England and Australia who are about to go head-to-head in another historic Ashes encounter.
For the first time in many years England are the favourites to retain the Ashes following their 3-1 victory in Australia in 2010/11, yet many in the know are trying to play down the hype and supposed gulf between the two sides being hyped up by some section of the media.
England Coach Andy Flower is one who is desperate to play down some of the hype, no doubt aware that should Australia win this series he could find himself looking for another job, such is the nature of top class sport these days.
He has been quoted as saying ” anyone who knows anything about the game would also admit that we aren’t as good as some people are saying and Australia are not as poor as some people are saying. We know they will be dangerous and we respect them as such.”
Australia would appear to be in turmoil with Mickey Arthur losing his coaching position on the eve of the series, but if Darren Lehmann can pull the players into line and make sure they know that he is in charge things could very quickly turn around. It will come down to the players taking responsibility for their own performances and pulling together as a group, something their predecessors did so well.
The batting is the key and with Chris Rogers set to open the batting at age 35, against bowlers he would be familiar with and in conditions he will be used to after playing in England since 2003, Australia may have the answer to their recent problems, getting off to a good start. Rogers has scored over 10,000 runs in England and is a gritty, determined opening batsman who makes a bowler earn his wicket.
If along with Watson he can give Australia an opening foundation on which to build an innings this series will be a lot closer than some expect. Australia has teh bowlers to exploit the English condition as long as they pitch the ball up, it is only their batting that currently has question marks surrounding it and that is why Rogers and Watson become such key components, to Australia’s performances.
Much has been said and written about Shane Watson in the past few years, previous to that he was set to be the “Golden Boy” of Australian cricket, but constant injuries prevented him living up to the hype, although many will say he still believed it. It is now time for him to deliver, and consistently. He has a key role to play, should he fail to do so then Australia’s campaign could go horribly wrong, and his International career could well come to an abrupt end.
Both teams would no doubt be keen to win the opening test at Trent Bridge where the ball is known to swing and seam off the wicket, but both would also be happy to come away with a draw. Rest assured this will be a very closely contested Ashes series provided Australia’s top order can find some consistency and build a foundation for their bowlers.