Odds and ends – England favourites for 2015 Ashes


It’s been a rough few weeks. First we had our noses put out of joint; then we had them rubbed in the dirt by our understandably elated antipodean cousins. However, if the bookies are to be believed, we should get our revenge in 2015: they make England slight favourites at odds of 6/5.

Basically, the bookies have looked at the real stars of this winter’s Ashes – Rogers, Harris, Haddin and Johnson – and concluded that Australia’s difference makers will be different themselves in two years time. In fact, I’ll be amazed if they’re all still in the team.

Chris Rogers and Brad Haddin are already 36. They surely won’t be around in 2015. Harris is currently 34 and clearly on his last legs (in relative terms he’s got the body of an octogenarian).

What’s more, although Mitch will probably be around in 2015, he’ll be almost 34 (and his moustache will be nearly three). It’s hard to see him being as pacey as he is now; even Brett Lee had lost a yard by that stage of his career.

Without the pace of Harris and Johnson, the Aussies are left with a dodgy top order, which averaged the same runs per wicket as England’s miserable bunch before Sydney, and Peter Siddle.

Of course, we’ll be told that Darren ‘sicknote’ Pattinson and Pat ‘shoot me now’ Cummins will have evolved into the new Lillee and Thompson by 2015, but I’m not holding my breath.

I like Cummins a hell of a lot, but he’s injured so much that I can see him becoming a Shaun Tait type cricketer whose body simply can’t cope with the rigours of international cricket.

Meanwhile, although Pattinson also looks like a good prospect, he didn’t particularly impress in England. What’s more, his penchant for leaking runs would undermine Australia’s tactic of bowling dry. And let’s not forget that Pattinson’s body is also as fragile as a bone china tea cup.

Apart from these two there’s only Jackson Bird, Nathan Run-a-Mile, and Goofy Faulkner to worry about. We’re not saying they’re poor but they’re hardly genuine wicket taking threats at test level (although they’ll do a good job in ODIs).

Having said all that, England are hardly in great shape. Although this 5-0 reverse is clearly an aberration in the stellar careers of Pietersen, Bell, Cook and Co, it’s hard to predict who’ll be the fall guys for our disastrous winter. There are already rumours that KP will be flicked out and Andy Flower retained. Good luck turning James Taylor into the new Pietersen, Andy.

Meanwhile, given the ECB’s inability to hit a cow’s behind with a banjo when it comes to making sound decisions, I suppose we can expect England’s XI to turn up for the first Ashes test of 2015 even more exhausted than they were this winter.

What’s more, you can pretty much guarantee that Darren Lehmann will have the edge over whoever England’s coach is. Andy Flower is an excellent coach, but England’s players are even more tired of his intense, conservative and over-analytical approach than we are of writing about it.

And if Flower isn’t in charge in 2015 – even if he’s retained I’m guessing there’s a slim chance someone who follows Piers Morgan on twitter might go all Lee Harvey Oswald if KP gets the boot – then good old Gilo will likely be in charge. Regular readers of this blog will know I’m a Giles sceptic.

Basically, everything’s a little up in the air in the moment. The bookies might make England slight favourites now, but until we see exactly who emerges from England’s post-series inquests (and in Australia’s case the celebratory drinking binges) it’s hard to say who will have hold the Ashes in two years time.

However, if I was a betting man – and I occasionally am – I think I’d fancy a team of Cook, Alex Lees, Bell, Balance, Root, Stokes, Prior, Mooen Ali, Broad, Finn and Anderson to edge a contest on home soil against Warner, Doolan, Watson, Clarke, Smith, Hughes, Wade, Johnson, Siddle, Pattinson, Lyon.

The bookies obviously agree. Do you?

James Morgan


  • Mooen Ali as our front line spinner mate, errr what!

    My outside bet on Future England Coach would be either Paul Collingwood, Alec Stewart or David Ripley. The latter has made a silk purse out of a sow’s ear at Northants and seems to have a more natural approach to the game.

    To be fair, I would give Moores another go….

  • Moeen Ali plays simply because there is no front line spinner available. We’d have to do a South Africa (i.e. Robin Peterson / Paul Harris) and play the best all round cricketer who can bowl a bit of spin. Mooen is a better bat, and a more reliable bowler, than Borthwick imho. He scored over 2000 runs in all forms of the game last year and took 50+ wickets. That’s pretty impressive.

    Open to suggestions on spinners though! Hardly an ideal option out there.

    Re: Moores. Bet KP would love that ;-)

  • James, at this range I don’t think the bookies give a rat’s arse about who will be playing on either side.

    What they’re saying is that in England, with every pitch doctored to suit whoever is playing for England, with the English ball and the crowd overwhelmingly behind them; they still think England is only just more likely to win, on average, over the whole series, perhaps.

    Hardly a glowing endorsement.

    PS – I thought it interesting that the three players you picked as having had an “aberration in their stellar careers” are all (along with Monty and Jimmy Anderson) now veterans of their second 5 – 0 flogging. Was this one an aberration and the last one just par for the course?

    I would have though that a more accurate statement would be something like ” while their three 2010 wins in Australia were clearly an aberration compared to their total of 11 losses; they have otherwise had fairly ordinary careers except for a very brief spell at number 1″

  • Harry. You are such a wind up merchant!

    Anderson didn’t play in 2007 (he might have featured as a reserve) but he was a young man and hardly first choice. Not sure how Bell got on in 2007, but I seem to remember Pietersen scoring a lot of runs. Besides, I was talking about personal performances, not team performances. Cook was a baby on the 2007 tour, although he still managed a ton at Perth (or was it Adelaide?)

    Overall though, if you want to broaden the argument, KP and Bell have played in 6 Ashes series and won 4 of them: 2005, 2009, 2010/11, and 2013 in England. So yeah, failure against the Aussies is quite rare for them.

    But you knew that, didn’t you ;-)

    • Got me.

      “Lies, damn lies and statistics” to quote Disraeli.

      I believe that means they’ve won 10 out of the 20 tests played. Jolly well done. Absolutely stellar.

      By the way, according to one of your previous arguments in this blog, shouldn’t it be 5 series? You lost this one 3 – 5 didn’t you?

      Although the key words I used were “in Australia”. I’ll happily admit that they’ve been a bit more successful elsewhere. :)

      Being very slightly serious for a moment, is there really any argument that Flower shouldn’t be booking into the Mickey Arthur Retirement Home for the Criminally Confused? Surely his position is completely untenable.

  • Interesting XI’s James, in fact your drugged up bookie is even more interesting – seriously with a team in absolute turmoil, a coach that is now pleading to be retained by the new management (he will be), a captain that can’t captain (he will still hold it), a bonehead superstar who is totally out if control (KP), an ageing “spearhead” who can’t, no matter how hard he tries, cannot crack 30 runs a wicket, a keeper who has fallen so far off test standard, how can that rabble be installed as favourites? Will Australia be that bad next year? A team on the rise, a team with a superb coach, an team atmosphere where the players will now be fighting to keep their spot, Shield players fighting to get in, this encouraging environment will only benefit a successful team. There is no toxic environment, just a very happy and positive bunch.

    Yeah sure, there some older players in situ, but the depth will be stronger next year because of what we have just seen by this team. There will be someone who we haven’t heard of ÿet that will come rising up the ranks. Not to forget Ashton Agar, Nic Maddison, Aaron Finch, Glen Maxwell, Ben Cutting and Tim Paine. Sadly the best keeper in Australia, Hartley from Queensland, will not get a look in, and it’s anyone’s guess why he never has. Not from NSW is probably the answer.
    Anyhow James, don’t give your money to a bookie who clearly is trying to lure your cash from you, I’ll bet you a pint Australia wins the Ashes in 2015 – a fairly generous offer from someone who doesn’t gamble!

  • Here’s a suggestion: why don’t you see if there are any recycled South Africans available for your England side? That should give you the edge you need, it will give them a chance to play internationally (as well as more money and an advantageous passport). Win win, and hope WIN.

    • What a great dig. Never heard that one before.

      Why don’t you guys go and find more players born in Pakistan like Khawaja and Fawad Ahmed? By the way, only 80% our population is white british, so it’s perfectly natural to have 2 or 3 foreign born players in our sports teams. If Australia was as tolerant and diverse as England, then I’m sure you’d benefit from more foreign born players too. But maybe that’s something you wouldn’t like?

      Sports teams throughout the world are becoming more ethnically diverse. The German football squad has more turks and polish people than the England cricket team has South Africans.

  • We are going to see two vastly different starting XI’s in 2015, that much is obvious. England have to focus on rebuilding the squad and I would suggest that they should have a new coach at the helm to do it. All the old cliches about ” a blend of youth and experience” are applicable, but knowing the ECB they will probably dump the faces that don’t fit and keep faith with those who tow the line.

    Australia outplayed England in every department, but coming off the back of two bad series, I don’t think they are the finished article either. Especially not if Harris, Haddin and Rogers are retired by the next Ashes.

    I’m looking forward to the series in South Africa, should be quite revealing.

  • I’d go with England to be favourites for 2015.

    Conditions will be more favourable: The Dukes ball will swing, meaning that Anderson once again becomes a major threat. The pitches will be slower so the Aussies attacking batting style becomes much more difficult without the ball coming on the bat so well.

    I think Ben Stokes was one of the few positives to come out of the recent Ashes. He looked pretty comfortable facing Johnson & co and can bowl at 90mph (dare I say the new Flintoff?). The likes of Stokes, Root and Ballance who has an impressive first class record will be a year older, and better prepared to play test cricket.

    The rest of the team: Cook, KP, Bell, Prior, Broad, Bresnan etc are all proven quality Test players. You don’t become a bad player after having a bad series. If anything you should learn from mistakes and come back a better player for the experience.

    On the other side, the Aussies look fragile again when Rodgers, Haddin and Harris retire. Bailey and Smith still unproven at Test level. Pat Cummins excites me though – would love to see him at full whack in the next Ashes!

    The only thing that worries me for England is finding a spinner to replace Swann. Borthwick not the man for me.

  • Because we don’t need to. We’re WINNING. If we were desperate we might…
    Also, the mercenaries in your team aren’t foreign born Brits, they are people recruited specifically for cricket.

    • Quite right. I took one look at that eleven year old Matt Prior and knew he’d be one of the best keeper-batsmen of his generation…a mere fifteen years later. And it was an act of rare prescience to get Ben Stokes’s father to take up professional football and be offered a contract with an English club, retire, and raise his children in England. As we speak, Andy Flower is busily scouting a South African protozoa with a raffishly elegant cover-drive. A Zimbabwean milkman with a glint in his eye is being lured over in the expectation his great-grandson will open the batting in the 2074 Gabba Test.

    • Oh dear. You obviously don’t know what youre talking about. Who exactly did England go out and ‘recruit’. Stokes? We saw potential in a 6 year old boy and persuaded his Dad to move to England? KP? I take it the ECB totally created positive discrimination in South Africa, and fabricated his birth certificate to pretend his mum is English? Oh, and just in case you dont know (I wouldnt be surprised as you clearly don’t follow cricket too closely) England ‘recruited’ (ahem) these players when they were winning, and Australia started picking Fawad and khawaja when they weren’t. But hey, why let the facts get in the way of a generalised poorly argued point, eh?

  • James,

    Can I just take you to task on a couple of points?

    Firstly, Australia is by far a more culturally diverse nation than England. Out of the 195 countries that are members of the UN, 185 are represented in the population of Australia according to the last census.

    As well as this over 30% of Australian citizens were born overseas and more than 20% speak a language other than English at home.

    I would suggest that we are also less prone to ethnic/religious strife than you. We have had no incidents of police shooting black people in the streets (lawfully or otherwise), no soldiers executed in the full view of the public by religious fanatics and precious little in the way of public disobedience fuelled by race hatred, EDF and UKIP style.

    I sincerely hope your use of the term “white British” was a slip of the keyboard. Nobody prior to this has even obliquely referred to skin colour as a basis for anything and on this side of the world we are keenly aware of the negative connotations of phrases like “white Australia” which have thankfully been buried forever in the annals of a previous generation.

    Frankly, when it comes to successful integration of people from all over the world into a cohesive and united society you have a lot to learn from us.

    The arguments around national selection put up by Australians are based solely on place of birth and the belief that only players born in the country should be eligible. Australia has, rarely, selected overseas born players within the same rules framework as England. Since Keppler Wessels I think the count is now three.

    Test matches that is, not players.There are admittedly more occasions when you also consider ODIs and T20, but does anybody really care about those?

    Most Australians would be prepared to forego the services of our 2 overseas born players if it meant that we went back to the Ashes being between England and Australia rather Australia versus a Rest of the World XI.

    Finally, perhaps it should be noted that Stokes was 12 when he moved to England, not 6, but hey, never let the truth…………..

    • ‘White British’ is a box you tick when you fill in forms in the UK (medical ones etc). It doesn’t form the basis of nationality, no. Nor did anyone suggest otherwise. In fact, we published an article bemoaning the decline in black players in county cricket (and representing England) in December. It was written by Vivek Seth.

      I guess you gasp at the term ‘white British’ because race, and related tensions, are a sensitive subject in Australia (as they are in many places). Indeed, I recall you have a national reconciliation day to apologise for the way indigenous Australians were treated years ago. I don’t think such a term is inflammatory in this country at all, unless used in a sinister context (which it clearly wasn’t here).

      If you think that Australia is more multicultural / tolerant than England, and we could ‘learn a lot’ from you, you are profoundly mistaken. The truth is, that the UK and Australia are BOTH two of the most tolerant nations in the world.

      However, I’d challenge your assertion that the percentage of foreign born people determines a nations tolerance levels. In fact, your argument defeats itself. It’s not about how many foreign born citizens you have, but how they are treated and assimilated. If Australia is as tolerant as you suggest, why dont more of these people find their way into your cricket team?

      As for racial tensions and the incidents you refer to in the news, the public beheading incident was related to muslim extremism. An entirely different issue. In fact, London is so vulnerable to these incidents because of our diversity, and the number of ethically different people in our capital; thus the slang term Londonistan which is used by some media types. As for UKIP, that isn’t about racism, it’s about the UK belonging to the Euro (and European related issues). Yes, we have a very small, discredited British national party, but that stems from economic frustration and thrives in areas of the country were extremism would build up irrespective of national attitudes. To suggest that the UK is more racist than Australia, simply because the rednecks in Queensland haven’t yet formed a political party yet, is rubbish. The truth is, there are racists in every country on earth – and there are fewer (relative to population) in the UK than basically any country on earth, according to all reports. Google it!

      To reiterate the point for the final time, there is nothing wrong with foreign born people coming to England and then later playing for our cricket team. A national sports team should be a reflection of the society it represents. End of. I don’t really understand your logic. On the one hand you seem to be revelling in Australia’s diversity, yet at the same time praising the fact that none of them play cricket for you. This is clearly a contradictory position.

      Re: Ben Stokes. He was actually 12, not 11. I was deliberately exaggerating somewhat sarcastically to make a point. It makes no difference how old he was precisely, because he clearly wasn’t earmarked as an international cricketer and poached by the ECB before he’d played a meaningful game at any level. It’s just an absurd assertion – and quite frankly such a plan would be beyond the capabilities of our rather useless administrators ;-)

      • 270 different nationalities live in the UK and over 300 languages are spoken. Some of these countries aren’t in the UN. Mr Multicultural’s 185 is high, but not as high as the UK. A third of londoners are foreign born. But let’s not turn this into a ‘my country is better than yours debate’.

        • Sorry Dave,

          There aren’t 270 countries in the World. There are 196 including Taiwan. And I did make a mistake – Vatican City and Kosovo aren’t members of the UN, so I should have said 193 countries in the UN and I can’t find any reference to South Sudan so that might another one to you.

          • No. There aren’t 270 ‘countries’ in the world, but that’s not what Dave said. He said there were 270 ‘nationalities’ in London. Big difference. England, Scotland, Wales are 3 nationalities, but according to the UN (and the EU) just one country. This is the first link I found backing this up http://bit.ly/1iQojfG

            Australia more diverse than the UK? Clearly not. However, this is possibly all getting off topic now.

      • To reiterate the point for the final time, there is nothing wrong with foreign born people coming to England and then later playing for our cricket team

        Yes there is.

        • Easy on the word count, Tolstoy. Some of us haven’t got time to read these long essays….

          Although, if your fingers aren’t too tired, care to say why, say, Matt Prior, Andrew Strauss, or Ben Stokes shouldn’t play for England?

        • Why? Are you suggesting that foreign born citizens are second class citizens or something?

      • This argument is getting boring.There is a good living to be made in English county cricket,hence all the saffas.I grew up in Melbourne in an area where most people were 1st generation of euro descent.There parents had know interest in cricket generally,thus the lack of players without Anglo-Celtic names.Plenty of sub continent Asians who play,just none have made it.England has more immigrants from cricket playing nations,simple.I for one don’t use the England teams make up as an excuse when Australia lose.

    • I didn’t really want to comment on this for fear of it turning in to a stupid pissing contest but, seriously mate, what planet are you living on?

      I’m going to have a wild guess and say you’re white and being openly referred to as a wog, curry, philo, or leb is not something you experience – nor, if you complain, being told you need to stop being so sensitive/stop whinging/harden up. I’m guessing you’ve never sat in the Blatchey’s Blues section and spent 80 minutes surrounded by drunk arseholes shouting ‘fucking monkey’ at Sam Thaiday. Maybe you missed Adam Goodes being told he should ‘harden up’ and ‘stop being so sensitive’ after he was called an ape and then Fat Eddie McGuire suggesting he should promote King Kong?

      More racially harmonious? Well sure, if you mean we have an extraordinarily dominant white culture and suppress all discussion of racism, and ethnic minorities are basically told to lump it or fuck off ‘home’. I suppose it’s a sign of our advanced attitude towards racism that two white guys didn’t see what was wrong with blacking-up as Radike Samo to enter a Qantas Wallabies competition. I suppose it’s even more impressive that Qantas looked at two white guys with shoe polish on their faces and afro wigs and gave them the prize. Your post typifies the problem we have in Australia, as white people, of saying ‘Nope, we’re not racist, no problems here’ whilst sticking our fingers in our ears and ignoring the clamour of the large chunk of our population which says ‘actually, yes, there bloody is a problem’.

      But, in your own words, “Can I just take you to task on a couple of points?”

      “Firstly, Australia is by far a more culturally diverse nation than England. Out of the 195 countries that are members of the UN, 185 are represented in the population of Australia according to the last census.”

      Both England and the UK have a more diverse culture if you want to measure that as number of nationalities represented in the population. Did you not think to check that before you said it?

      “As well as this over 30% of Australian citizens were born overseas and more than 20% speak a language other than English at home”

      Wrong again. 24.6% of Australia’s population was born overseas, and 1 in 3 of those was born in either Britain or NZ. The percentage of Australian citizens born overseas is far lower.

      “I would suggest that we are also less prone to ethnic/religious strife than you. We have had no incidents of police shooting black people in the streets (lawfully or otherwise),”

      Great non-sequitur. Mark Duggan was an armed drug dealer with a long history of violence who was shot during a drugs raid. How is that ethnic strife? And how is it so different from NSW police officers repeatedly using tazers and pepper spray on a handcuffed Brazillian student and killing him. And before you start getting smug about Muslim extremism in the UK, you might want to look at how many Australians are reported to be fighting in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and so on and think about how they ended up there and what’ll happen when they come back.

      “and precious little in the way of public disobedience fuelled by race hatred, EDF and UKIP style.”

      UKIP is an anti-EU party, nothing to do with racial violence, and EDF is a French electricity company. If you mean the EDL, its got about twelve members. The Cronulla Riots should be a lesson that racial violence only needs a spark to erupt here as well. Perhaps you’ve forgotten One Nation already.

      We hardly need a race-hate party, though, when we’ve got a government which has run a hate campaign against refugees for the last six years (20 if you count the glorious Howard years).

      You’re either twelve and too young to remember half the stuff that’s happened in the last thirty years or you’re living in a fantasy world. Either way, rather than writing this horseshit you’d be better served asking why, when we have such a large number of immigrants (and second, third, fourth generation ethnic Australians) from cricket playing nations so few of them find their way in to state sides, let alone play for Australia.

      • I genuinely feel very sorry for you.

        Your writing is obviously based on unpleasant personal experiences and I would do nothing to try and trivialise them.

        However, I do need to reply to you in order to set the record straight.

        I am half Greek, half Indian, born in Hong Kong. I am the very lucky beneficiary of a good education and better friends. I have from time to time been called a wog, I have also from time to time referred to others as Pommie bastards or Ignorant Skippy Wankers. Almost always these insults have thrown between very close friends with big smiles.

        You see, we don’t care about skin colour.

        You’re right, I’ve never sat with the Batchey’s Blues. I don’t follow football.

        I do know that the person who referred to Adam Goodes was publicly castigated at the time, as was Eddie McGuire when he made an appalling attempt at humour soon after. Both he and the radio station publicly apologised almost immediately.

        It also seemed at the time that the only person not offended by the Radike incident was Radike. Who took the time to share pictures and is clearly laughing and joking with the 2 young fans who tried to make themselves look like him as a tribute. Misguided – certainly. Racist – I don’t think so.

        All the numbers I used were taken directly from the Australian 2011 census. That showed 69.8% of the population as being born in Australia. If you have done more recent or more accurate research please share.

        Are you suggesting that the migrant experience for people from New Zealand is any less valid than that of people from elsewhere? Or is it that you object because they haven’t

        As I posted above, there are only 196 nations on the planet. 94+% are represented in the Australian population. If the UK is more diverse I’d be interested to see the figures.

        Mark Duggan was not armed and was involved in a drug raid. His car was stopped in street for a search. Police say they believed he was armed and shot him. He actually had a mobile phone.

        Australians fighting overseas. I don’t know who they are. If you do perhaps you should tell ASIO.

        Are you seriously telling me that you don’t think UKIP is a racist organisation?

        You got me on the EDF. But those French power workers can be pretty militant.

        Yes, I have forgotten One Nation. It’s a shame the chip on your shoulder won’t let you do the same.

        What refugee hate campaign? If you are talking about Tony Abbott’s boat policy I agree totally. It’s obnoxious but that isn’t a Refugee issue. It’s border protection.
        Australia accepts 13,000 immigrants per year on humanitarian grounds (onshore and offshore applicants) plus other programmes of 190,000. There is no limit on Migrants from New Zealand.

        In very rough terms that’s nearly 1% of the population per year.

        Unfortunately, until very recently, the bulk of our immigrants have either not come from cricketing nations (China, Vietnam) or have come from countries where it is easier to get selected for their country of origin (England, NZ). As the largest ethnic groups now emigrating to Australia are from the Sub-Continent I think you’ll find this situation changing reasonably quickly.

        I make no assumptions about you and respect your opinions, I am sorry that you are so unhappy living in Australia. This does not, however, give you the right to misrepresent our country to the world.

  • Mr Multicultural. This is all getting off topic now. But please get your facts right if you’re so well educated. Any level of basic research reveals that Australia is not more diverse than the UK. Australia is a diverse country, but it is not, by any credible measurement (or any statistical body, UN or otherwise) a more diverse country than the UK. Your knowledge of British politics is also way off. Are there a few racists in UKIP? Probably a few, yes. There are probably a few racists in other political parties too. But is UKIP a racists party? Absolutely not. And even if it was, it does not prove that the UK itself is less diverse than Australia. If anything, the emergence of such political parties is a response to the growing number of immigrants, not a response to the lack of them?! Think about it.

    At the end of the day, you’re trying to show off that Australia is diverse and tolerant, but at the same time celebrating the fact that foreign born Australians don’t play cricket for you (because for some reason you shouldn’t be allowed to play for Australia if you weren’t born there). How on earth is that tolerant? You’re basically suggesting that people should come and live in Australia, but be kept somewhat at arms length. It’s nonsensical.

    Anyway, if this debate goes on much further, we’ll have to spam comments. This is turning into a political debate now. It’s off topic.


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