The Ashes 2013 team preview - Australia: When Goliath became David
Cricket today is very different from what it used to be just a decade ago. India is supposedly the best team in the world(after years of only being Team Sachin), Pakistan is not to be feared any more, and Australia (yes, the mighty Kookaburras) are not invincible.
It is a strange situation really, one which I always dreamed of relishing when it arrived, but one which I surprisingly don’t like now that it has materialized. For the first time in nearly three decades, Australia head into the Ashes with the cloud of a 5-0 thrashing hovering above them like a vulture hovers over its prey. The recent results and performance of the Kangaroos suggests that this scenario is a very realistic one. History, however, has always taught us to never underestimate an Australian side.
Michael Clarke and another purple patch: His form in 2012 was nothing short of extraordinary. Clarke managed to amass a mammoth 1595 runs, which included a triple hundred and three double hundreds. The Aussies will be hoping he remains injury-free and finds his purple patch in England and once again becomes the linchpin of this Australian batting line-up after a not-so-successful tour of India earlier in the year.
Pace Attack: Although it is not the best attack the team has boasted over the years, this Australian attack could work in the cold and damp conditions of England. Peter Siddle’s form with the ball will be crucial, as the burly seamer is the only among the lot to have played more than 20 Test matches (Ryan Harris is next with 12). Young James Faulkner, who will be making his Ashes and Test debut if selected, showed during the recently-concluded IPL that he is more than capable of swinging the ball both ways and causing batsmen all sorts of troubles.
Whether or not Ryan Harris recovers after being out of the game for a long time due to injury remains to be seen.
Darren “Exudes a calming influence” Lehmann: Shane Warne showed in the initial IPL season that tactics applied by coaches can make a huge difference to a not-so-talented team. Darren Lehmann showed it again when he, along with fellow Aussie Adam Gilchrist, took the Deccan Chargers to victory against all odds. According to some, that was when the world started noticing Darren the tactician.
A decent middle-order batsman during his days, Lehmann has shown his prowess as a tactical mastermind; but his biggest challenge is whether he can be the catalyst of a great Aussie triumph here. A general feeling around the camp is that his appointment at the eleventh hour might just be the magical wand the Kangaroos desperately needed.