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Ashes 2019: SWOT analysis of Australia's squad

Australia won the last Ashes
Australia won the last Ashes
Meit Sampat

The Ashes is one of the most anticipated series in Test cricket at present. Australia and England will battle out for the urn in less than a week's time.

Australia hold the aces as far as the Ashes Tests are concerned. In 330 Tests, Australia have won 134 and lost 106, with 90 ending in draws. In terms of series, Australia have won 33 of the 70 contested, England have won 32 and 5 series have ended in draws.

Since the year 2005, England have dominated Australia in the Ashes - especially at home. Australia last won an Ashes series in England 18 years ago, in the year 2001. England beat Australia by a margin of 2-1 in 2005, 2-1 in 2009, 3-0 in 2013 and 3-2 in 2015.

The iconic moment between Flintoff and Lee in the 2005 Ashes
The iconic moment between Flintoff and Lee in the 2005 Ashes

The 2019 Ashes will be a tough contest between two well-balanced teams who have had their moments of ups and downs in Test cricket over the last year or so. England lost the Test series to West Indies early this year and Australia lost a home series to India for the first time in early 2019.

Australia have named a 17-man squad for the Ashes which is as follows:

Tim Paine (Captain), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazelwood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Steven Smith, David Warner, Matthew Wade and Mitchell Starc.

Here is a SWOT analysis of Australia' squad for the 2019 Ashes.


Strength: Experienced bowling unit

Starc will look to spearhead the Australian bowling attack
Starc will look to spearhead the Australian bowling attack

The main strength of the Australian team for the 2019 Ashes is the experience in their bowling attack. The likes of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazelwood, Nathan Lyon, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle and Mitchell Starc have considerable experience of playing Test cricket and have battled it out against England on several occasions in the past.

The fast bowling trio of Cummins, Starc and Hazelwood has tasted substantial success as a bowling combination. And Nathan Lyon as a sole spinner has single-handedly led Australia to victory on numerous occasions.

Starc has picked up 29 Test wickets in England while Hazelwood has 16 in England. Cummins in his start-stop Test career has not played a Test in England but he has played international cricket for a period of almost nine years and will look to add to his tally of 94 Test wickets.

Lyon enjoys bowling in England and has 25 wickets to his name in the country. The likes of Pattinson and Siddle have also played Test cricket in England. Pattinson has played 2 Tests in England, picking up 7 wickets, and Siddle has picked up 43.

The Australian pace attack is an experienced one which will look to take full advantage of the brittle English top and middle order. If the pace bowlers pick up early wickets, Lyon will tough to negotiate for the English batsmen.

All in all, the bowlers are Australia's strength in the upcoming Ashes. Moreover, the likes of Starc, Cummins and Lyon can also score handy runs lower down the order if and when required.

Also read – Ashes Highest Total chased

Weakness: Unsettled batting unit

Cameron Bancroft will be playing his first Test series post the ban
Cameron Bancroft will be playing his first Test series post the ban

The batting unit of Australia in Test cricket is quite unsettled. The trio of David Warner, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft have been named for the Ashes after serving their respective bans.

In all likelihood, Marcus Harris will open with David Warner in the first Test. Harris, in 11 Test innings till date, has scored 327 runs at an average of only 32.70 with two half-centuries. He is yet to prove his authority as an opener.

Bancroft too has not tasted much success at the Test level. In 14 innings, the opener has scored 402 runs at an average of 30.92 with a highest score of 82.

Harris and Bancroft will likely find it difficult to negotiate the initial bowling spells of James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes.

Warner and Smith will be returning after serving their bans, but they have been away from Test cricket for more than 15 months now. Though Warner finished as the second highest scorer in the World Cup, Smith averaged 37.90 in the tournament.

The middle order comprising of Usman Khawaja, Travis Head, Matthew Wade, Marnus Labuschagne and Tim Paine has not tasted much success at the Test level either. In 6 Test innings in England, Khawaja has scored 114 runs at an average of 19. Head is relatively new to Test cricket and out of 8 matches in his career, has played six in Australia and two in UAE.

Labuschange has played only five Test matches and averages 26.25; he too is yet to play a Test against England. Wade has been named in the Australian team on the basis of strong batting performances in domestic cricket, but he has not been able to replicate his domestic performances at the international level and averages just 28.58 with the bat.

Thus apart from Warner, Smith and Khawaja, the rest of the middle order is yet to play Test cricket in England and will find it difficult to face the skilled English bowlers.

Also read – Ashes Best bowling figures

Opportunities

Tim Paine
Tim Paine

The 2019 Ashes will be the perfect opportunity for Josh Hazelwood and Mitchell Marsh to perform consistently after being left out of the World Cup squad. A good performance in the Ashes will open the doors for them in limited overs cricket..

The biggest opportunity in the 2019 Ashes will be for Tim Paine to lead his team to a series win. In nine Tests as captain, Paine has won just three and lost four matches. He has a solitary series win against Sri Lanka to his credit, with Australia whitewashing Sri Lanka by a margin of 2-0 earlier this year.

The Australian captain has not tasted much success leading Australia, and he would like to set the record straight in the Ashes.

The skipper has a bunch of experienced and young players who will be looking to win a series in England for the first time in 18 years. As a batsman, Paine will have to make handy contributions with the bat at number 7. In the past the Australian skipper has played several gutsy innings, but he is yet to score big and consistently in Test cricket.

The wicket keeper batsman averages 35.14 which is decent, but he is yet to score a hundred. He has 5 half centuries to his credit in 35 Test innings.

Paine averaged just 23.67 in 4 innings against Pakistan in 2018 and 24.86 in 7 innings against India in 2018-2019. Thus, the Australian skipper will look to score more runs and lead from the front to repay the faith shown by the selectors in retaining him as the skipper for the Ashes.

Also read – Ashes Most ten wickets hauls

Threats

Anderson and Broad will be the main threats for the Australian batsmen
Anderson and Broad will be the main threats for the Australian batsmen

The likes of Warner, Smith, Starc, Cummins and Lyon have been playing continuous cricket since the 2019 World Cup and will have to stay match fit at all times to give their 100% on the field. It will be interesting to see how the Australian team management manages the workload of the Australian pacers during the Ashes, as an injury to any of their premier fast bowlers could seriously derail their Ashes campaign.

Moreover, The England bowling attack is an experienced one comprising of James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes, Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes. The likes of Sam Curran have tasted success at the Test level, and the dangerous Jofra Archer is also likely to be a part of the bowling party at some time in the Ashes.

The Australian batsmen will have to be cautious at all times, as the English bowlers will give them no breathing space.

The 2019 Ashes promises to be an exciting contest with Australia looking to win for the first time in England since 2001. Though England seem to be the favourites, Australia are not far behind; if their batting clicks, they could well win the urn again.

Also read – Ashes Most five wicket hauls

Edited by Musab Abid

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