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?