Almanac Cricket: Ashes Already Alight



With the announcement of the English squad after much toing and froing the non-playing participants – the media have already taken the new ball in a frenzy.


“Worst team ever,” “no world class players except Joe,” “pensioners Anderson and Broad still the key” and on and on with the First Test still 57 days away!


All I can say is beware the wounded Lion. Years of following the game at close quarters will see fight in most visiting sides.


Sure the team looks very ordinary on paper but there are a couple of fighters in the batting line-up besides the world’s number 1, Joe Root. Haseeb Hameed and Rory Burns will perform much better in Australia than at home and don’t be surprised if Hameed is the “full package”.  He has tightened his defence and has the fluid wrist work that goes with players with a sub-continent background.


Root of course will lead the way but he still has not made a Test century in Australia and the Australian players will , unfortunately makes sure he knows it. Stokes of course is a huge loss as he can turn a game completely around in a session.


I expect Dan Lawrence to be a much better player on Australian soil as well but unfortunately for him he might have to wait for a couple of Tests before he gets his chance. With no pre-Test warm ups, it is difficult for any player to get opportunities.


The visitors will get no reprieve from the Australian fast attack but who is to say that Hazlewood, Starc and Pattinson (if he gets a chance) are any better than they were four years ago. Cummins will of course lead the pack with style but I doubt whether the other three will have impact.  Remember the series last year against the Indian number twos?  They found it very hard to bowl them out and it will be no different this series.  Of all bowlers Starc is the one likely to lose his place. He bowled some very wayward stuff last summer.


Keep Cummins at bay and the Lion has a chance. Nathan Lyon will be an interesting watch. He struggled last season and the Poms don’t mind playing off-spinners. Mitchell Swepson should be included in the team as a backup to Lyon which means one of the quicks will have to go.


With so little long-game cricket in the last 10 months (has there been any?) the Australian batters will go into the First Test with very little red-ball. The big question for me is who will be the batters? Warner is sure to open but his confidence is pretty low at the moment. Burns, Harris, Pucovski, but I like the style of Tim Ward, the young Tasmanian ex-NSW opener.


Labuschagne and Smith will be three and four and I think Mitch Marsh will be in on his form so far this season. However, one proviso if he plays: he must be bowl to give the others a spell. Green will get the other spot but also will need to take a turn at rolling his arm over.


Australia is not a great team at the moment and the off-field shenanigans will not have inspired much confidence in them. England’s bowling, whilst it looks a bit pedestrian, will not give anything away. I expect Jack Leach and Ollie Robinson (also a handy tail-ender) to lead the attack with the 40 year-old James Anderson.


At the time of writing we are still not sure of the Test fixtures, and the final venues could have a bigger say in who takes the urn in the middle of January.



Quick singles:


Well done Malcolm Knox (The Age 9/10/21) the article entitled  “Cricketers our perfect envoys in selfish times”  hit the nail right on the head.  How damned lucky are they being able to play at all and dictating when and where they’ll play. Selfish to the core in my opinion.




Marnus Labuschagne’s theatrics in the game against South Australia won’t be tolerated if he is thinking “I could be the next captain”. It was boorish and lacked nothing that makes this game so great.  Not the first time.




The current CA Chairman Earl Eddings does not seem to be everyone’s cup-of-tea and it could be fun and games at the annual meeting scheduled for Thursday of this week.  Don’t be surprised that the motion to give him another turn is overturned.  Watch this space.




Just start timing how much time will be spent by the camera people honing in on Justin Langer this summer.  You can bet there will be plenty of it.



Two books will be published in the lead-up to Christmas 2021. The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020  as will the 2021 edition to celebrate the Dees’ magnificent premiership season (title is up for discussion at the moment!). These books will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers and Demons season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from these two Covid winters. Enquiries  HERE



To return to the  home page click HERE



Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.



Do you enjoy the Almanac concept?
And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help keep things ticking over please consider making your own contribution.



Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE
One-off financial contribution – CLICK HERE
Regular financial contribution (monthly EFT) – CLICK HERE






About Bob Utber

At 80 years of age Citrus Bob is doing what he wanted to do as a 14 year-old living on the farm at Lang Lang. Talking, writing, watching sport. Now into his third book on sports history he lives in Mildura with his very considerate wife (Jenny ) and a groodle named "Chloe On Flinders". How good is that.


  1. Colin Ritchie says

    Looking forward to some Test cricket this summer CB, hopefully MCG or maybe a quick visit across the border for the Adelaide test. And of course, your regular reports of the day’s play I’ll look forward to as well.

  2. Ta Citrus Bob. Happy to have the cricket as a pleasant break from the pandemic this summer. I’m aware the usual pre-Ashes bagging of the tourists have started but I’m not overly enamoured by our chaps.

    You mentioned the inability of the four front line bowlers to knock over India last summer. After the opening test it was clearly going to be 4-0 to us, but……………………….Yes, unless there’s a major change of form Starc could/should not be in the starting 11 for the opener. Pattinson?

    Our batting is a serious concern. Smith is very good, Labuschange if he continue his trajectory is very good, then?

    How much has Warner got left in the tank? Looking at the top Shield run scorers last summer you’d say there’s more questions than answers. The top five were:

    C Green: He was given a good run in the test side last summer. Let’s see what he does this summer. Even one wicket would be good, let alone some runs.

    T Head: Lost his spot, seems to have lost his way. Hope he can regain his test form. On his day he’s got starts, made some good scores, but not taken the next step.

    M Labuschange: A big summer for him. Didn’t match the form of his stellar 2018-2019 last summer, but he’s one of our keys.

    S Marsh: Need I Say anything?

    M Harris: He started last season well, should have played in the opening test . When called up he’d hardly struck a ball in anger for weeks. Unlucky,but is another chance merited?

    Following these five were C Bancroft, then M Henriques. I’d be surprised seeing either wear the Baggy Green again.

    What about the next pair, Henry Hunt, & Jake Doran? They’ve got runs on board from last season, why not give one/either a berth if they continue making runs.

    Anyhow the summer is on the way. Let’s hope for an exciting Ashes series with them retained down under.


  3. Daryl Schramm says

    Getting in early Bob. I saw that the English have named their 17, so I assume the series will proceed. With the first test not till Dec 8th there is still a lot that can happen. But at least you got me thinking, so thanks for that.

Leave a Comment