Round two of the Ashes, one of the oldest cricketing rivalries in history has begun, this time sooner than usual, giving England a chance to win their fourth consecutive Ashes for the first time in more than 80 years and the Australian side, a chance to put an end to their country’s yearn for urn since 2009.
It is expected to be yet another interesting contest for the cricket fans as despite the results, it has enough for the viewers to remain glued. Stuart Broad invited the Aussie wrath for his controversial decision of not walking over last Ashes as this time around the Aussie media has decided not to put his name in the papers, and the day one saw the Aussie public holding placards that read ‘Broad, I know what you did last summer’. The series has just begun and there is definitely excitement brewing.
Alastair Cook and company have begun their quest, high on confidence after winning the home series 3-0. While Michael Clarke would look forward to gain the home advantage and spoil Cook’s party, the Englishmen would leave no stone unturned to continue with their most successful Ashes stint since the late 1970s and early 80s. (England had suffered 8 successive Ashes series defeats between 1989 and 2002-03).
In the last series, while everyone expected England to retain the Ashes 5-0, the Aussies did give them a run for their money in the third Test, where it looked that the English side were not invincible after all.
Cook’s defensive captaincy had played a major role in the last series. The batting line up was inconsistent barring Ian Bell who won the Man of the Series award. Cook, who had scored 766 in 2010-11 Ashes series, could score only 277 runs. This time he needs to let his bat do the talking. The English bowling is its main strength with James Anderson, Chris Tremlett, Graeme Swann and Broad on board. Joe Root is proving to be a good all-rounder for England.
The Aussies meanwhile seem to have addressed their selections issues giving a chance to George Bailey for his Ashes debut. The T20 side captain’s power packed performances in the ODI series against India helped him seal a place in the Ashes. Mitchell Johnson, too has got a call back, after his stellar performance in India. Ryan Harris was consistent last series taking 24 wickets and earning the Man of the Series award while lack of injury-ridden Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson, Jackson Bird and Pat Cummins might be an issue for Clarke.
The Decision Review System (DRS) will once again be the technology to watch out for. It had raised eye brows when Australia went to England earlier this year, with quite a few errors and controversial decisions with Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen and Usman Khawaja becoming its victims. In fact, the Stuart Broad controversy also erupted as Australia had exhausted their reviews. This time, there has been an amendment where the number of reviews has been increased. Previously, both sides were allowed only two unsuccessful reviews for the whole innings but now the number of reviews will be reset after 80 overs. It will be a test of this technology too.
The Ashes drama will unfold in the next two months. England have unfinished business while the Australians need to avert more embarrassments. The cricket fraternity just needs to wait and watch to see who rises from the Ashes this time around.