Andrew Starkie’s Ashes Diary (entry 1): The Bogan is back

Boof has brought back The Bogan and suddenly the Australian team is happy again.

Maybe this is the natural state for our national sporting team: a few laughs, a few beers, the odd verbal spray, fewer powerpoint presentations, less sports science. Since Boof has taken over, things have seemed brighter. The warm-up games have gone well. Batsmen have made runs, bowlers have taken bags. Everyone appears to be getting on. Even Watson has stopped sooking. The new coach’s public backing would have much to do with that.

The line-up for Nottingham remains a mystery. Boof is either undecided or playing funny buggers. Obviously, our top six is our weakness. Warner should miss out to send a message to him and others who want to put their egos before the team. Boof speaks about putting team first, here’s his chance. Warner’s lack of time in the middle is also another reason for leaving him out.

Rogers has been the best batsman at domestic level for years and finally has another chance. It may be five years too late, but I hope he goes well and is persevered with if he misses out here.

Rogers should open with Cowan simply because Ed can’t bat anywhere else. Watson will probably start but I’d prefer to see him at no.4, behind Clarke. Call me old fashioned, but the KISS approach is always best in sport and life – play your best batsman and captain at no.3.

I’m not convinced by Hughes – particularly at no.3 – and we all recall how he went last tour of England. Time will tell how his subtle technique changes will cope with the moving ball under grey skies. This tour will make or break him and possibly also Warner, also suspect to the ball outside off.

Smith’s debut a few years back was one of the saddest I’ve seen. A few first class games, a roll in the nets with Warney who declares him ‘ready’ and suddenly he’s in. He was unprepared. It was cruel and a train wreck. But his recent efforts in India showed maturity and he may come in at no.6.

It’s good to see Haddin back as vice captain and the fact he is suggests he will lead the team before the series is over due to Clarke’s fitness problems. Let’s be honest, we couldn’t have Watson as captain again.

As a member of the crook back club, I felt a twinge when I first saw the tour fixture. The Test series is squeezed inside six weeks so we can get on with the 20/20 rubbish, so I honestly can’t see Clarke going the distance. I was relieved he sat out the Champions trophy but concerned he hung around for a century against Worcestershire last week. He had his eye in by 50 and probably should have thought of the big picture and retired.

Clarke’s other big issue is his leadership. As captain, he has become a champion batsman and shown himself as a fine, attacking tactician. Team harmony is his problem. Clarke finished the careers of Katich and Hussey and doesn’t get on with Watson. This tour, with its potential for more valleys than peaks, will be a big test of his communication and man-management skills. Clarke must learn to take people with him, no matter where that may be.

Our pace bowlers, when fit, are as good as the opposition’s, if less experienced. Starc, Pattinson and Sidds should get first crack. Sidds’ spirit will be crucial if things get ugly on tour. Bird, Faulkner and Harris are in the wings, but the latter’s body is also a concern and maybe he should be kept there until the return home series.

This tour will also make or break Lyon. He must take wickets and if at all possible, cheaply. Agar and Ahmed – if naturalised – aren’t ready and therefore, shouldn’t come in if Lyon fails simply because of the ‘see a hole and fill it’ policy.

A poor start from Australia may quickly lead to free fall. To avoid this, our team must be well led, unified and prepared everyday to dig in for the fight.

England – or perhaps they should be called British Empire – are settled, in form and arrogant. Cook can’t stop scoring runs but, unlike Clarke, appears to get on well with his players. Bell is building a great career after a shaky start and everyone is talking about how good Root is. Perhaps Warner should’ve connected properly. Anderson and Swann are good and they know it, and Broad is…. bloody annoying. He looks like an extra out of a Harry Potter film. KP’s place in the squad surprises me. He’s a great player, but is he worth it? This team wants to ride the wave of British sporting success.

I love the Ashes and good Test cricket is the greatest of all sports. Let’s hope we see plenty of it in the coming weeks.

Cmon Aussie!

Comments

  1. Peter Flynn says:

    More Nerds and less Julios has to be a good thing.

    Cheers Great Man.

  2. Andrew Starkie says:

    Flynny, forgot to add – win toss, bowl first, knock heads off.

  3. Luke Reynolds says:

    Great preview Andrew. A real pity the series is compressed into such a short space of time. The days of a long 30 odd game tour sadly doesn’t fit in with modern commercial realities. Have no idea why we are playing another 5 ODI’s at the end of the tour after we played 5 there last year. Would much rather see a 6th Test played instead, both in England and out here.

  4. Excellent preview Andrew .. better than anything I’ve read in the newspapers

  5. Andrew Starkie says:

    T TBone, hope i haven’t peaked. Cmon Ausssies

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