It’s red-ball season now with teams playing each other at various parts of the world. This is the time to win some crucial World Test Championship points in the new cycle and teams have already made a solid start.
India thrashed World Test champions New Zealand by a whopping 372 runs in Mumbai on Monday, Pakistan are set to win a two-Test series against Bangladesh in Dhaka and Sri Lanka are right on top after a 2-0 home series win against a hapless West Indian side. But all eyes will be on the Ashes as England aim to overturn a poor record on the last two tours of Australia.
England have lost nine of their last 10 Tests in Australia. Joe Root’s team will be attempting to win its first series in Australia since 2011. The first Test begins at the Gabba on December 8 and England seemed undecided on their team combination.
Australia have been more proactive in matters of selection. New Australian captain Pat Cummins confirmed his match line-up, three days before the series begins at Brisbane’s Gabba ground. Cummins revealed that Travis Head had been preferred over Usman Khawaja in the Aussie top order while veteran paceman Mitchell Starc edged out Jhye Richardson in the Playing XI.
Joe Root, by contrast has been more circumspect. He said: “The fact they’ve named their 11 doesn’t really concern me or change anything from our perspective. We’ll conduct our business how we want to and let you know when we’re ready.”
While Root seems to believe in the present, history favours the Australians. Although they lost the home series against India, the Australians have a formidable record playing in their own backyard. In the last 10 years, they have won 11 of the 16 series at home.
Apart from losing against India, the Australians have been beaten by South Africa while New Zealand have drawn one series in 2011-12. Thus, England have some challenges to meet in the five-Test series that ends January 18, 2022.
KP’s TIPS FOR ROOT’S MEN
So how does England better their Ashes record in Australia? Former England star Kevin Pietersen has some tips for Root & Co. KP was a vital member of the only England team to win the Ashes in Australia since 1987.
Pietersen scored 360 runs at an average of 60 in the triumphant 2010/11 series, also taking one crucial wicket of Michael Clarke at Adelaide. Pietersen stresses on several points but like all big rivalries, KP says passion is one intrinsic ingredient that should propel high quality performance during the series.
Understanding the importance of the Ashes is a driving force, musk like a cricket match between India versus Pakistan. More than just skills, pride and passion are overriding elements and Pietersen says: “You are judged at the end of your career almost entirely on how you played in an Ashes.”
EMBRACE THE OCCASION
“The Ashes is something that the fans, the public, the media all get involved and you are always reminded that it’s a great feather in the cap to say we beat Australia in Australia … these are historic moments,” added Kevin Pietersen.
The opener at Gabba, according to Pietersen, will determine the trend of the series. Talking from experience, KP said it will be vital to draw first blood in Brisbane. “It’s vital to make sure that the first Test match doesn’t go pear-shaped,” Pietersen said.
Saying that scoring big runs was absolutely mandatory in Australia, Pietersen remembered how Alastair Cook scored 700 runs in the 2010-11 series and James Anderson was devastating with his revere swing and control and how off-spinner Graeme Swann backed him up.
KP said the Ashes will be closely fought but England must not yield even an inch against the dangerous Australians, famous for their counter-attacking style of play.