The Ashes 2013: England Preview
The moment of truth is finally upon us – the one true test that counts more than anything else. As time dwindles to the last few hours before action can finally begin between the two age-old cricketing rivals, there’s this headiness that settles all over. Enrapturing and captivating, it’s this aura of headiness that chalks the start of yet another Ashes legacy for generations to come.
Of the two teams, England, of course, start as the favourites with their impeccable Test performances throughout this season. They are buoyant without being over-confident, seem to understand the challenge ahead and ready to deal with any attack that the Australians might spring upon them.
The return of Kevin Pietersen should boost the confidence of the English team heavily. Pietersen has been the in-form batsman for England at this venue averaging around 39, the highest batting average netted by any English batsmen for that matter at Trent Bridge.
Still controversial in many ways, Pietersen’s inclusion for the first Test however earmarks the faith placed in him by the team management and the coaching authorities. England would be counting on Pietersen to replicate his flamboyant innings for Surrey during the Division One match against Yorkshire.
Alastair Cook would also be keen to make the most of the tactical advantage of James Anderson and Stuart Broad to the fullest. Amongst all of the English pace bowlers, it’s been Anderson and Broad who have produced results for England at Trent Bridge.
Anderson especially has been quite lethal achieving his career-best Test figures at this venue. With pitch conditions expected to favour reverse swing, Anderson would be the pick of the English bowling attack early on, complemented by the likes of Broad, Tim Bresnan or Steve Finn.
England will be glaringly aware of the fact that Trent Bridge hasn’t exactly been their roosting ground. Though their present Test numbers are quite inspiring, no English batsman has managed to average over 40.
Notable names in the list include that of Jonathan Trott and Captain Cook; two players who have been majorly instrumental in getting decisive results for England. Spinners too have been lackadaisical in their performance at Trent Bridge, the most telling of them Graeme Swann, with an atrocious economy completely dissimilar to his otherwise frugality.
These factors could blight the English team’s chances, if they are unable to come up with a performance that shakes off the remnants of their past averaging cricketing displays.
There are innumerable statistical facts that emerge about the venue for the first Test of the 2013 Ashes. The ground has never witnessed a draw for more than a decade with the last match to be drawn occurring in 2002, between England and India.
England have never won the opening Ashes Test match since 1997 and have never won three consecutive Ashes series since 1981. With the next Ashes series scheduled to follow almost immediately on the footsteps of this, there’s a lot more at stake for England than merely winning and retaining the series.
The hosts will also be missing the trumpeting action of fabled ‘Barmy Army Trumpeter’ Billy Cooper, who has been disallowed to blow his trumpet by the Nottinghamshire club officials. This decision invoked a huge opposition from English players, who specially requested that the ban be reconsidered. But the officials have been quite firm in their stance with respect to the ban on musical instruments being allowed to be played in the venue.
Considering that reverse swing is expected in the offing, both teams would be keen to bat first and then utilise the natural conditions to get maximum results out of their bowling. The fact that English batsmen have under-performed at Trent Bridge would be a pivotal factor for Australia to consider and hone in on.
Joe Root’s promotion up the order to open the innings alongside Cook will be an interesting aspect to watch out for. The 22-year-old has been playing sublime cricket with maturity and flair of someone quite older, lower down the order. A chance to open the innings so early in his career is thus an opportunity worth a lifetime, especially when it is in a tournament as significant as the Ashes.
Match Prediction: England to win and go up 1-0 in the series.