England Face Tough Ashes Summer

Over at the Corridor, Mark Tilley estimates England’s chance at regaining the Ashes trophy, but he’s not so confident after recent series results:

But the bare facts still make for stark reading; England have now lost three consecutive Test series and are in poor, poor form. And whilst a few weeks ago some were saying that England need not worry about their own tribulations as the Australians were in a sharp decline of their own, those of that opinion need only look at the remarkable and supremely impressive resurgence of the Aussies down in South Africa. As much as I loathe to say it, they’re back and they’re looking ridiculously formidable.

Duncan Fletcher, however, sounds more sanguine. He says England’s batting is “fine,” but it needs to figure out its fourth seamer (why did they ever dump Matthew Hoggard, again?):

When you look at Australia, they’ve got three guys – Mitchell Johnson, who’s finally developing an inswinger into the right-hander, Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus – who all touch 90mph. And Brett Lee and Stuart Clark are still waiting to return from injury. It’s a scary prospect. Yet one of England’s brightest fast-bowling prospects, Sajid Mahmood, who occasionally goes for runs but offers genuine pace, seems to have dropped out of contention. You have to wonder what’s going on.

Still, the words Fletcher uses — “fine” for batting; “decent” for bowling — suggests that England just don’t have enough to beat the best. And that’s because, as Michael Atherton cruelly pointed out in the Times, England aren’t the best, or even close to it (they’re No. 6, apparently). They’re an ordinary team, sometimes better than New Zealand, but now not capable of the occasional brilliance that the Pakistanis and Sri Lankans produce.

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