Ashes 2013/14: Australia's macho brand of cricket 'must be a Test template'
Clarke's attack has no weak links but will be tested severely by powerful Proteas...
Last Updated: 06/01/14 12:47pm
It's a series you can watch on Sky Sports - and one Shane Warne, Mike Atherton, Andrew Strauss, Nasser Hussain, Ian Botham and David Lloyd expect to be feisty...
Now must be a good time to be Australian, Warney...
SHANE: I couldn't be more pleased for Michael Clarke and the whole team right now. They've shown a lot of character and I'm really looking forward to seeing how Australia go in South Africa. I think it's going to be a great series. South Africa won't underestimate Australia like England did. Australia hit them between the eyes in Brisbane and they never really recovered. Brad Haddin was brilliant and Mitchell Johnson was outstanding. Darren Lehmann has created a happy environment in the dressing room and that will stand the side in good stead.
Is Australia's attack the best in world cricket?
ATHERS: Alastair Cook said it's the best bowling attack he's ever faced in Test cricket. The ferocity of the assault from Johnson right from the start at Brisbane rattled England; they looked like they'd never seen pace before and couldn't find a way to cope with it. Johnson has wonderful support, too. Don't underestimate Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle. There has been absolutely no let up from this attack.
ANDREW: It's hard to argue with that. There are no weak links. Johnson provided raw firepower and Harris and Siddle bowled with brilliant consistency. Nathan Lyon has been under-rated. He's bowled really well on the final day, getting good turn and bounce. It'll be interesting to see how the South African batsmen go in comparison to England's.
BEEFY: The South African attack won't like people saying that Australia's is the best in the world. There is a strong argument that South Africa's is better, particularly as Dale Steyn wants that number one spot back. Their biggest problem well be replacing a fantastic cricketer in Jacques Kallis, who has just retired. In fact, I don't think you can replace him. You need two players to replace what he offers the side. But both of the sides - and this English side - have players who are getting a little bit long in the tooth.
NASSER: Johnson against Steyn - why wouldn't you look forward to that? So long as Harris stays fit, Australia probably have the more complete bowling attack because South Africa have struggled to find a spinner. But Steyn, Morkel and Philander against Australia's slightly fragile top-order should make great viewing.
SHANE: I don't think anyone is underestimating Johnson anymore. He did an operation on the England team and their psyche with his sheer pace in Brisbane. Don't forget a few of the others, too - David Warner played so well at the start and Clarke got hundreds in the first two Tests. Steve Smith and co all chimed in as well.
ANDREW: Looking back, I think England were a little bit complacent. We'd won out here last time and they'd won in England. They just weren't expecting to be met with the ferocity that met them and they didn't know how to react. It's easy to say in hindsight 'they should have prepared for that' but you have to give credit to Australia because Lehmann and Clarke went 'this is the way we need to play against this England side; they like things to be very structured and they like to play a certain type of cricket. If we go hard at them, we are going to see how they react.' England didn't react well enough.
So, what does the future hold for Australia and England?
SHANE: It's really good to see Test cricket thriving in Australia. The brand of cricket is exciting to watch. It has captured the imagination of all of the public here. If Australia keep their bowlers on the park, they can beat anyone - and properly. When you've got the likes of James Pattinson, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc in the background, the bowling looks pretty good. I still think the batting needs some work but if those guys can find some form and one or two others can step up, then I think they are going to be up there for a while.
ATHERS: What I've really enjoyed is the kind of throwback to some of the cricket that I remember playing in and watching - very muscular, macho cricket that Australia have played; a fast, hostile bowler running in and asking questions not just of your technique and skill but your heart and your ticker as well. The way they've come at England's bowlers with some aggressive batting has been wonderful to watch from a neutral perspective. As England move forward, they can certainly take lessons from how Australia are playing, as can other teams. If it provides a template for other teams to play Test cricket that way, I think it's all well and good because Australia have been fantastic to watch in this series.
BEEFY: I think England have got to grasp this now and say 'okay, we've got some really hard thinking to do'. I'm not talking about a mass cull but they've got to start looking at some of these younger players. Ben Stokes came into the side and was a breath of fresh air. There has got to be a few more of those out there.
ATHERS: I think new faces are what keep people interested in the game, new characters. You get to see how they react under pressure and the quirks and the foibles that they have. A renewal is no bad thing. I think it will give some impetus to the domestic game. All of those county players should be thinking at the start of the domestic year 'there's five or six places up for grabs in this England team'.
BUMBLE: I'll be looking at the early-season county matches when lots of players have a 'rest'. They should all be playing county cricket and the ones who are in-form in county cricket move forward into the Test arena. Every county can now plan for all of these players playing. Alastair Cook said they're all playing for places; the only place they can do that is in first-class cricket for their counties.
In part one of our post-Ashes assessment, the Panel discuss if this is the worst Australia tour they've been on and ask if England threw in the towel in Sydney.
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