Some sort of apology must be offered. This site purports to be an esoteric newsround and also a lot of cricket. I am aware that as Ashes fever reaches delirium point there has been precious little else posted.
So for this I do apologise, and issue a call for the other members to make up for my temporary monomania.
Getting back to things, the weekend’s 1st class warm-up match against South Australia went much better for England than had been expected.
The bowling highlights were, no doubt, the continued form of Jimmy Anderson and Farmer Hoggard. Both showed a healthy amount of swing, and Hoggard’s 3-40 suggests a man peaking at the best of times.
Monty Panesar took two wickets and kept his economy well below three; suggesting the Australians cannot tear into quite as rabidly as they had been promising.
Ian Bell’s masterful 132 is a fitting testament to a boy turned man since the last summer. Having had a thumping summer he seems an unusually happy traveller for an England batsman.
Collingwood’s 80 should be sign of things to come and Flintoff’s 47 has at least allayed immediate fears about his consistency with the willow.
Yet it was Saj Mahmood’s swashbuckling (what the hell does that mean anyway?) 41 which made for the most entertaining viewing. Seeing a tailender spanking the Australian spinners for 6 in their own back garden could just be the tonic needed to settle the new boys.
Things are now looking decidedly rosy for England; Harmison has declared himself fit and said he will “take any painkiller they want me to” to ensure his spot for the 1st Test on Wednesday, the top six batsmen have all had 50’s in the last two matches and there is little hope for Shane Watson returning to fitness in time to play at the Gabba.
Indeed the only cloud on the horizon is the continued fitness of Geraint Jones, a man who could not catch the plague if the bowler was sending down dead rats.
Barring lighting bolts, I think it would be safe to say the die is cast for the first test and there are no more surprises coming. I shall now tender my series prediction.
England will retain the Ashes, and the pivotal match will be the 2nd Test. Australia have injury and form worries of there own as well as a natsy habit of infighting. England will mature at the crease, especially Strauss and Collingwood and Australia will self-destruct under pressure.
The urn is coming home.