To win the Ashes, a team must perform consistently for five matches, with every member in that team turning up to every test match and giving their absolute all.
However, cricket is a funny sport, and in the Ashes a teams absolute all may not be enough as there are game changers, men who can turn the match on its head in one session as they step up to the greatest stage of all in test cricket.
So who are these game changers? Those with the so called 'X factor' that possess the skill and courage to individually influence an Ashes outcome. In the past their have been many – Bradman, Ponting, McGrath, Warne, Flintoff, Botham, just to name a few. All these men capable of single handedly destroying an opposing outfit and gaining a result for their nation.
The question is raised; who are the game breakers in this Ashes series? England lack flair, yet still perform impeccably well as a unit in the test format. Australia are a team in transition, struggling to fill the gaping holes left by those from their golden era. The series will be tight, despite England being labelled as heavy favourites. The series may well come down to a session or two. So who can win those sessions by themselves? Which are the men that can turn this Ashes series on its head?
Jimmy Anderson – Anderson has always been a masterful bowler, in the past he could be vulnerable, but with age he has matured, transforming into a man who knows his trade well. He can skilfully swing the ball both ways and consistently trouble opposing batsmen.
He has lost the tendency to leak runs, as he is not only an attacking wicket taking bowler, but also one who builds pressure, Jimmy Anderson will be tough to get away. Whilst his statistics see him average a touch over the wrong side of 30, at the end of the day he has taken 307 test wickets. And if he bowls well, England will be tough to beat.
Joe Root – Young Root looks like he should still be playing with his friends in the school yard. Yet the baby faced prodigy child possesses more skill in his left foot than most individuals have in their entire body. The 22-year-old has racked up mountains of runs for Yorkshire and has the ability and technique to have an enormous influence on the result of this Ashes series.
He can bat for long periods of time and adjust to different circumstances well. However, he is unproven at the top of the order at test match level which may give Australia's talented opening bowlers a chance. Nonetheless, Rooty is a game breaker.
Kevin Pietersen – A man filled with flair and controversy, KP is definitely one to look out for this series. The 6ft 4 middle order batsmen can take a game away from you in a session with his aggressive nature at the crease. He is one of the most exciting batsmen in the world to watch, and one of the most intimidating to bowl to. The South African born Englishmen has been absent from the test match arena for a while, which has been deeply missed by the English outfit as they have lacked acceleration in the middle order. KP's return to first-class cricket was a positive one, as he belted Yorkshire all over Leeds for an impressive 177 not out. The bottom line is, if KP has a big series, it's hard to see Australia winning.
Michael Clarke – The man with the golden bat, seriously, it's hard to see him not scoring runs this series. Pup is the spine of a somewhat dilapidated Australian middle order. He leads from the front with his aggressive captaincy and uncanny knack of building enormous scores.
The 32-year-old made the best bowling attack in the world look no more than club cricketers as he punished the South Africans for two consecutive double centuries in late 2012. Clarke possesses a technique that is technically sound which compliments his unbreakable concentration. And with a recent century in the warm-up game against Worcester, to England's demise it looks like Clarke is set for a big Ashes.
James Pattinson – When England selected Darren Pattinson to play against South Africa in 2008, it became clear that they had picked the wrong Pattinson. Darren's younger brother James is fast becoming one of the best fast bowlers in the world and has the potential to become a legend of the game.
At the tender age of 23, Pattinson has collected 40 wickets at the impressive average of 23.37 as his ability to bowl quick, shape the ball both ways, and bowl with aggression has troubled the best batsmen in the world. He is Australia's strike bowler, and possesses the ability to rip through the English top order. A man capable of causing destruction and winning test matches for his country.
Mitchell Starc – Pattinson's partner is crime. The gangly left-armer is the more coordinated version of Bruce Reid, and the better version of Mitchell Johnson. On his day, Starc can be unplayable. When on song, Starc can hoop the new ball and reverse the old ball at great pace. His talent is there, and although he can at times be radical, he possesses those magic balls that are unplayable to the best of batsmen. If Starc bowls well this series, he has the ability to turn test matches in his favour. Mind you, he's not mug with the bat either.
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