Tuesday, 21 November 2006

Countdown to the Ashes

The first day of the first Ashes test is only days away now and the hype is almost overwhelming. Picking a winner is actually harder in this atmosphere of information overload than it is in a series with no hype whatsoever (New Zealand vs Sri Lanka anyone?).

Just look at the Sydney Morning Herald's Ashes page and you will see what I mean by information overload.

One thing that might help us in picking an Ashes winner is to compare each squad player by player. Tim de Lisle does this in his Ashes Buzz blog to come up with a composite XI consisting of the best players on both sides. He ends up with a team containing seven Australians and four Englishmen as follows:

1 Andrew Strauss
2 Matthew Hayden
3 Ricky Ponting
4 Kevin Pietersen
5 Michael Hussey
6 Andrew Flintoff
7 Adam Gilchrist (wkt)
8 Shane Warne (capt)
9 Brett Lee
10 Matthew Hoggard
11 Glenn McGrath

I might be tempted to swap Justin Langer for Matthew Hayden and Steve Harmison for Brett Lee, but overall I agree with Tim's picks. And when you look at it that way Australia does seem to have an edge. They might have a weakness in their captain and you cannot deny that their star players have left their best days behind them, but overall they present a much more solid and well-rounded XI than the English.

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