Is there any way that England's cricketers can avoid complete humiliation at the hands of the Australian cricket team this summer? If you are a die-hard English cricket supporter, who believes that England can win any test match series, then you will think that we have a chance this summer.
However if you apply common sense to your thinking, and weigh up all the facts, then there seems little chance, if any, that England can regain the Ashes.
England's last two series have both ended up as 1-1 draws, away to the West Indies and more recently at home to New Zealand, whereas the Australians won 2-0 at home to India during the winter and are currently 1-0 up in the West Indies.
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Add to the equation that Australia are the current cricket World champions, then the form book tells you that there can only be one winner, and that is not England. Australia also has a far more settled squad and team than England, and you have to remember the last time England played against the Aussies down under, England were whitewashed 5-0.
The memories of that defeat will still be playing on the minds of some of the England squad and they will also be remembering the hammering they were given by Mitchell Johnson. It is true that England now have a new coach in Trevor Bayliss and he will undoubtedly bring new ideas on how to approach the game of cricket with him, and he will almost certainly be able to give some of our players an insight into how the Aussies will be approaching this series.
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However, as everyone knows the game is not played on paper, the players have to go out onto the pitch and put his new ideas into practice. There are also numerous problems when selecting England's squad, and it is quite apparent, that Messrs.’ Bell, Broad, Ali and Ballance are not in the best of form and at least two of them should really be replaced before the series starts. Moeen Ali is not a test match spinner, therefore, is he worth a place in the team on his batting alone? Ian Bell has an average of somewhere around seven in his last eight test match innings and really does look out of form. Ballance has probably earned his place due to his exploits last summer against India, and is definitely worth persevering with.
That leaves Stuart Broad. Is he an all-rounder, a fast bowler or what? One decent performance every 10 or 12 games is just not good enough and that is definitely what is happening at the moment. Finally, we are left with the choice of Alastair Cook as captain. He is the obvious choice as captain as there is no standout player to replace him.
He has to improve his captaincy immeasurably to challenge Michael Clarke throughout the series, and his batting has to stand up to a fearsome Aussie pace attack led by Mitchell Johnson and backed up by Mitchell Starc. He must also lead from the front and play an attacking brand of cricket, which in truth is not in his nature.
England must be positive from the outset; because if England shows any sign of negativity, we will be trampled on by the Aussies and we could end up on the wrong end of another 5-0 whitewash. This series will without a doubt be the defining moment in Alastair Cook's career as England's captain.
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