Ah yes, the Ashes. The pinnacle of cricketing competition, if you ignore the Royal London One Day Cup, and the high point of every 18 months or so. To be honest, keeping track of when the Ashes are actually happening is a bit difficult these days. There was 2013, then 2013/14 and now 2015. At some point we’ll probably get back to normal and have two of them every four years, but we’re damned if we can figure out when exactly that will be. If Cricket Australia, the ECB and the BCCI get their way, it’ll be Ashes followed by one day tri-series in India every year until the human race is eventually wiped out in some sort of nuclear Armageddon.
Following the wild success of our first mass debate (current number of comments: zero) Editor Steve decided to try doing exactly the same thing again. He lured four 51allout writers into a room with trails of Krispy Kreme doughnuts, locked the door and refused to let them out until they came up with around 1,500 words on the Ashes, while hopefully covering the following key questions:
Unfortunately, one of the writers ate too many of the Krispy Kremes and passed out, leaving the other three to carry the load (and not for the first time). Here’s what they had to say:
Nichael Bluth: I’m genuinely torn about this series. My heart says that England could do it, while my head says that Australia are going to walk it. I think it might be a bit like the reverse of the 2013 series: England will be mostly competitive before ballsing it up on a couple of occasions; getting bowled out in a session, that sort of thing. Basically, it’ll come down to England’s ability (or lack thereof) to actually take 20 wickets with a bowling attack that looks pretty damn fragile.
Aussie Matt: To continue the comparisons theme, I think it’ll be like the 2010/11 Ashes, but with the shoe very much on the other foot (thank fuck). England currently seem to be desperately trying to convince themselves that they will be ready when the time comes, whilst Australia are in no doubt, and after not winning in England for so long will be pretty bloody relentless in search of that goal. The differences between the teams are not that vast, but I think their motivations might be, and Australia will likely win all the small battles and ultimately end up cruising towards a 3-0 or 3-1 series win.
James K: Yeah, there’s a slight (huge) element of everyone forgetting that England are still a bit (a lot) crap after the ODIs against New Zealand. Over the last 18 months they’ve played no one good and still managed to balls it up on a regular basis. I also have some doubts over whether Trevor Bayliss rolling up for work a fortnight before the series and then taking everyone off on a massive piss-up in Spain is the best preparation.
NB: Yeah, based on what you guys have said, England are clearly going to get mullered.
AM: Yup, should be fun! But I think the difference will mostly be shown in each team’s depth. People are focusing on Devereux and Mitch Johnson (with good reason) but players like Michael Clarke and Ryan Harris (perhaps not – Ed) will have a massive series in my opinion. Both have been rebuilt and probably want this more than anyone. For England I have sneaky suspicion Adam Lyth will play well, whilst Root will no doubt score a fair few as well. If England pick Plunkett he could cause some carnage too.
JK: Hazlewood is probably the most under the radar Aussie player who might do well. England are essentially Root then ten dickheads roaming about ruining all his good work. It will be interesting how he deals with this attack, since unlike all the teams England have played recently there’s no obvious drop off in quality between the new ball bowlers and the rest; they’ll be pretty relentless.
NB: I think Hazlewood might well outshine the Mitchell brothers, who will both be a bit inconsistent. Lyon will probably do pretty well, as if to rub in the fact that Moeen Ali really isn’t that good. If – and it’s a big if – Adil Rashid gets a gig, I reckon he might take a few people by surprise.
NB: Overall I think this will be a pretty routine series. Australia will get their noses in front early and then keep it that way. Hopefully England go down swinging, rather than the meek surrender of last time out, but either way I can see it being a bit of a damp squib.
AM: It’ll be an annoying series for England fans, I think, because they’ll likely end it with the XI that they probably should have started the series with. If they do lose it badly (which looks likely), Bayliss is not the sort of person who will simply nominate one scapegoat and lay all the blame on him. Although Graeme Swann is already looking a likely candidate for that role. The utter moron.
JK: I’d like to nominate Alastair Cook for the #escapegoat role. Given that the football season starts about two Tests in, if (when) England are getting hosed everyone will just stop paying any attention to it. So for the sake of the BRAND a close series is pretty important. Otherwise organising a full Ashes every year might start to look a bit like overkill.
AM: As for the ‘Lord Gower moment’, I’m hoping that if the Australians really get on top of Cook again you’ll see some of his besties in the media (Mike Selvey, Simon Hughes et al) run onto the field to stop those awful, awful Aussies picking on their beloved Alastair. A man can dream, no?
NB: I think Mike Selvey’s running days might be behind him. I just hope that someone properly loses their shit with Warne in the commentary box this time.
JK: The pre-Ashes banter is already at dangerously high levels so there’s work to do to keep it up. Maybe whenever Watto comes on with the drinks as twelfth man Mark Wood can mount his invisible horse and chase him off.
As if the Ashes weren’t exciting enough on their own, we have a Devereux-themed competition, in which you can win one of the great prizes. You’d have to be mad not to enter.