`Underdogs` Oz still retains Ashes hopes, says Mark Waugh
London: Former Australian Test cricketer Mark Waugh has said that although the Australians are still the underdogs going into the Ashes, they still have a chance of succeeding in the Ashes.
According to the Guardian, the embarrassment and despair prompted by the team`s off-field activities under former coach Mickey Arthur, whether enforced performance reviews or impromptu late-night drinks, has given way to hope, after the appointment of Darren Lehmann to work alongside Michael Clarke.
The report further said that the pundits who cringed through the disastrous recent tour of India now sound genuinely convinced that their team can at least compete, with Waugh, one such pundit, saying that even though Australia has had a dismal period recently, anything can happen in sports, adding that a lot of short-priced favourites get beaten.
Stating that England deserve to be favourites if both sides are full strength, Waugh warned that the series may be leveled in a big way in case of injuries to players like James Anderson, adding that the Australian bowling attack should not be underestimated as the bowlers are very talented despite not having many Test wickets.
Waugh further said that a couple of Australian bowlers like James Pattinson and James Faulkner, provided he plays, could be very fiery and in the face.
However, Waugh admitted that the batting order is still a big question mark, saying that he believed that captain Michael Clarke is the only certainty, at either four or five position, adding that former vice-captain Shane Watson may open the big series, probably with Chris Rogers, who knows English conditions so well.
Stating that the sixth position could either go to Steve Smith or the suspended David Warner, Waugh said that Warner needed to control his ego and concentrate on his batting, adding that even though he may excel at the number six position, he may also falter in the Test as he will come to that game straight from his suspension.
Waugh further said that being a young and inexperienced team, Australia needs to concentrate on their own game rather than worrying about England and look towards going 3-0 up in the series.
Meanwhile, Waugh believed that Clarke might have overshadowed Arthur, saying that however, Lehmann will not take a back seat as he was an aggressive and innovative player and will have a good blend of firmness and a calming demeanour.