Ashes 2013/14: Australia's build-up will be hampered by India ODIs
Greg Blewett says Australia's tour of India will hamper their momentum ahead of the Ashes.
By Greg Blewett
Last Updated: 17/09/13 11:40am
Michael Clarke's team claimed a 2-1 one-day victory over England with a 49-run success in the fifth and final match of a rain-affected series at the Ageas Bowl.
But Australia now face a demanding one-day programme in India, consisting of one T20 match and seven ODIs - the last of which takes place on November 2, one week after England touch down in Perth to begin their Ashes tour.
"This NatWest Series win is massive for Australia because they were very determined to get the result they did," said Blewett, who played 46 Tests and 32 ODIs for Australia.
"We've been beaten so consistently by England over the last two or three years, so any win can only help!"
"I'm really interested, though, in the different preparations going into the Test match series in Australia.
"A lot of Australia's players will go to India, which isn't a great build-up for playing on Australian pitches and England actually arrive in Australia before a lot of the guys get back from India. So I think England have got the better build-up for the Ashes than Australia!
"You could tell [at the post-match interview] that Clarke doesn't think it's an ideal preparation going into an Australian summer.
"They'll be playing one-day cricket in India on pitches that aren't similar to Australia's at all. Then they've got to face up to England's very good bowling attack in Brisbane. It's not ideal but it is what it is.
"I think both teams will bat better in Australia on the pitches that will be prepared; they'll be easier to score on. England will be tough again - the side will basically be the same - with bowlers coming and going.
"Graeme Swann is the real asset that England have got over Australia - Nathan Lyon doesn't take as many wickets as him - but Australia are building."
Australia claimed the NatWest Series win after a fourth-wicket stand of 163 between Shane Watson (143) and Michael Clarke (76) powered the tourists to a total of 298 all out.
Watson began this summer's Ashes series opening the batting but has since gravitated to number three, where he made a rousing 176 in the fifth and final Test at the Oval.
Scores of 37 and seven followed in the T20 series, before he made 38, six and 143 in the NatWest Series.
To date Watson has three Test tons in 85 innings and eight ODI hundreds in 144 knocks and Blewett says the 32-year-old must now start to turn a high proportion of his starts into centuries.
"The partnership between Watson and Clarke was sensational," reflected Blewett.
"Watson is going to be judged now on the tons that he makes because he gets so many starts but in the past - even though we know how good a player he is - he's struggled to convert his fifties into hundreds.
"He may just be starting to do that now. He made a big score in the last Test and again here; it looks as though he's locked into that number three position, both in Test match cricket and one-day cricket now. He's so strong and once he gets on a bit of a roll, he's extremely hard to stop."
Watson, named man-of-the-match for his 107-ball innings, said after the victory that the mood in the Australian camp has been transformed since the start of the summer when Darren Lehmann replaced Mickey Arthur as coach.
Arthur dropped four players - including Watson - during Australia's 4-0 Test defeat to India earlier in the year, but Blewett said the change of regime has rejuvenated the squad.
"There was some criticism about the jostling of the Test team but I think Lehmann and the other selectors were just trying to find out who exactly is going to cut the mustard at that level," said Blewett.
"Let's not forget that he inherited that squad - he had no say in what that Test squad was; he had more of a say in what's here for the one-dayers.
"I think he's getting a fair idea of who he wants in his team. For me the T20s and the one-dayers was the start of Lehmann's reign because that's when he could really put his stamp on the team."
Watch Australia's limited overs tour of India, starting with the Twenty20 clash on October 10, live on Sky Sports 1 from 2.30pm on October 10.