Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The 2009 Ashes begin at last!

Mock ye not! Certainly I won’t be laughing at Glenn McGrath for his 5-0 (to Oz of course) Ashes whitewash prediction – not with my record as a Nostradamus anyway. Only a few weeks ago I predicted confidently that The British Isles Rugby team (aka The Lions) would be beaten by at least 20 points in each of the Test against the Springboks. The final points tally over the three Tests was Boks 63 Lions 74 by the way in case anyone forgets to tally it up. And how wonderfully well the Lions played from that moment in the first Test when they looked down and out at 7-26 early in the second half. Moral victors in the series? Well not quite – South Africa perhaps just about deserved to win but The Lions did all of the inhabitants of our little group of British islands proud didn’t they?

And so to Cardiff. Well I’ve vented my spleen enough about the iniquity of the choice of venue for the first Ashes Test – so now I’ll just head for the M4 and hope for the best. Having discovered laverbread on my last visit to the Principality I’m looking forward to breakfasting again on this mouth-watering dish. At the opening ceremony we are apparently going to hear “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau” along with “Advance Australia Fair” with the British National Anthem with its reference to Her Maj (Head of State in both participant counties in The Ashes contest) not featuring. I wonder if this is the first sporting occasion when not one member of the home team could understand a word of the “home” anthem – let alone sing it.

Rumours abound about the Cardiff wicket and whether there is a cunning plot underway for Panesar and Swann to roll the Aussie over with their twiddlers. Decent bowlers both but I really do doubt that they strike fear into the hearts of our friends from down under. There will be one or two young Australian batsmen appearing in an Ashes Test for the first time – as a certain Don Bradman did 79 years ago at Trent Bridge. Wisden wrote of the young Don that summer that he was “A glorious driver, he hit the ball very hard, whilst his placing was almost invariably perfect. He scored most of his runs by driving, but he could cut, hook, or turn the ball to leg with almost the same certainty.” Bradman was 21 years old that summer – about the same age as the tyro Philip Hughes this year. I’ll try and put the mockers on Hughes by making the comparison with the Don but it really does seem that he has the same range of shots as his illustrious predecessor. Has he the nerve as well? We shall see.

It is customary to say that bowlers win matches and so it is on the bowling attacks that many commentators are concentrating in there pre-Ashes pieces. I’ll do the opposite and suggest that the key players, other than Hughes, will be the indisputably great Ricky Ponting, the reliable and solid Hussey, the now in-form North and the almost Gilchrist- like Haddin who could be the reason that Australia will have the edge. Mind you if Strauss, Bopara and Pietersen all strike form on the same day – backed up by Cook and Colly and the rest England might post the occasional formidable total themselves. I also have strange gut feel that Ian Bell is going to feature some time during the series and that he will do well – but that as near as I’ll get to a prediction.

Well “Iachydd Dda” to you all – let’s hope for some fine cricket this week!

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