Updated:Feb 19, 2023 9:06 pm
The Ashes are coming into view and the phoney war has begun from just under 5,000 miles away. Steve Smith isn’t usually taxed by the thought of playing England. It’s crease occupation that he looks forward to against Broad, Anderson and company.
Australia Crash and Burn in India
Australia’s vice-captain wanted Ben Stokes/the cricketing world to know that he has bigger things on his mind, like winning a series between the two best sides in the world. “It’s a difficult place to win a Test match, let alone a series,” Smith said of the current tour to India. “If we were able to top that mountain, that would be huge. I think if you can win in India, that’d be bigger than an Ashes series.”
Well, that plan to subjugate the Indian subcontinent is over in six days of play. Australia is currently unable to bat out a day. They even pulled out a retro England-style batting collapse by losing eight wickets for 28. The Baggy Greens last won a series there in 2004 when their Goldenballs stroke maker, Michael Clarke, crashed onto the scene with his blonde hair and carefree strokes to give us a taste of what Millennium celebrity was to come.Embed from Getty Images
Australia Homesick Travellers in India and England
Smith was tersely reminded by the cricket social media fraternity that his country hasn’t won a series in England for 22 years either. Among those who were nudging this factual narrative was none other than Mike Atherton: “Australian batsmen have often given the impression of being homesick travellers, happiest against Kookaburra balls on flat pitches, and far less certain when conditions offer swing, seam or spin,” the former Ashes captain said.
While the Aussies are fretting, Brendon McCullum is exuding the kind of bonhomie you would expect from a man who said only last week: “You have one crack at life, why would you not want to enjoy it? That’s the theory, we’ll see how it works out but it’s worth a crack.” England’s brave new world is working so far – as ten out of the last eleven Tests will validate. Moreover, it appears to be irking the old enemy somewhat ahead of direct engagement.
Just weeks away from the tour of England, David Warner can’t buy any runs. His last English summer was arid thanks to the sceptre of Stuart Broad who’s doing Stuart Broad things in New Zealand. Matt Renshaw, a teen back in the day whose star rather faded, is now in his mid-twenties and looks lost. Peter Handscomb has played 18 matches over seven years. Australia’s top and middle order is not seamless. The lack of Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Cameron Green does not help current matters.Embed from Getty Images
Are Australia Obsessed with Bazball?
If they are talking about you, even indirectly, they are worried about you. That might be the McCullum and Stokes think tank takeaway. In December, a sign was spotted at Adelaide in the home dressing room which read: “Ron Ball” (the nickname of head coach Andrew McDonald). It was a jocular swipe at England’s much-talked-about version of speed dial cricket. The Aussies are very keen, almost too keen, to tell us what fun they have dissing Bazball. It seemed to rile Dean Elgar too. Look how that turned out.
2023 Ashes Will be Unfriendly FireEmbed from Getty Images
This forthcoming summer is perhaps one of the most anticipated. It has vibes of 2005 in that Stokes’ men are unlikely to back down even if things get ugly. Australia are good at making noises but, even given the severe demands of subcontinent conditions, they have some selection headaches and form issues. The Ashes will seem a much bigger mountain to climb should irritation at annihilation in India add to the travelling baggage.