We speak to Sydney-based pundit Gus Worland to get his verdict on Australia's current crop of Ashes hopefuls following an experimental summer Down Under.
By Joe Drabble - Twitter: @SkySportsDrabs
Last Updated: 14/02/13 7:11pm
Summer may seem a long way off for the Great British public as the cold snap continues to bite, but Ashes fever will be warming up the nation before we know it!
In what is an extra special year for cricket fans - England and Australia will lock horns in 10 Test matches home and away - we are already looking ahead to how both nations are shaping up.
While England's starting XI for the 2013 series opener at Trent Bridge on July 10th looks fairly predictable, Australia continue to experiment in the hope of discovering an Ashes-winning formula for the first time since 2007.
No less than 33 different players have represented Australia during their summer of cricket and, quite frankly, we're struggling to keep up!
On hand to provide an insight is Australian television and radio personality Gus Worland - presenter of Sydney's Triple M Grill Team breakfast show - and all-round Aussie sports fanatic.
Read his assessment of the current Australia Test players who we may be seeing on these shores for the first time this summer below, and listen to the full interview HERE
David Warner (15 Tests, 1,068 runs, Av 44.50)
GW: "He's no bunny, he's played 15 Tests now, just under 1,100 runs, three hundreds and five 50s. One of those hundreds was a staunch hundred against New Zealand in Tasmania where he batted through the innings and we lost but the other two have been absolutely spectacular, scored off 60-odd balls and he's just brilliant. I think even the poms won't mind seeing him at least once tee off and play well, he can literally hit the first ball for six if it's in the slot! To watch Warner go off is a very big sight. What you've got to understand about Warner is that he's going to be hit or miss. He's going to dominate you and he's going to win you a Test match just simply because of the way he plays. But because he plays at such a pace and with such gusto he will mis-time the odd shot, he will nick the odd one as well. James Anderson no doubt will not be having too many sleepless nights and will be thinking he'll be able to nick him out early. However in saying that he is building consistency so I think Warner is going to be absolutely fine and you can cement him in, he will be opening the batting and face the first ball of the Ashes Test when Australia have their innings."
Ed Cowan (13 Tests, 722 runs, Av 32.81)
GW: "I think he'll be in the touring party but I don't think he'll be opening the batting. In the last few weeks here Shane Watson has decided to bowl sparingly and wants to be nominated as an opening batsman so once a bloke like Shane Watson says he wants to open the batting, he will open the batting. Ed Cowan had 13 Tests, 700 hundred odd runs, only averaging 33. Only one hundred, five 50s - not good enough. There's just that frailty at the top of the order with him. We're so used to wonderful opening batsmen here but 13 Tests is enough I think to work out if someone's good enough so I think you'll find Warner will be opening the batting with Watson, and Ed Cowan will be back-up in the touring party."
Rob Quiney (2 Tests, 9 runs, Av 3.0)
GW: "He's done more than me, he's got a Test cap!... however he got nine in his first dig which everyone was talking about as one of the best nines of all time and then followed it up with duck, duck and duck,... so I think he's toast!"
Glenn Maxwell (N/A)
GW: "I think they (selectors) like him. I think they like the fact that he can bowl a bit, he's a really good fielder and he's a real mongrel. He's going to be one of those blokes that the pommies really dislike because he won't give an inch. I think Maxwell is that type of player that they will probably pick but the whole situation changes if they pick Ed Cowan. Everything changes then with Watson batting at four and everyone then gets shuffled around and someone will then miss out - probably Maxwell."
Matthew Wade (9 Tests, 510 runs, Av 42.50)
GW: "He hasn't kept very well. Ian Healy - one of our greatest wicketkeepers - has been very critical of the glovemanship of Wade. Wade said himself very honestly 'look I've got lots to do with my keeping work'. Gilchrist spoiled it for everyone! You could be a 90 per cent keeper and 100 per cent batter and that's what England have got now. They've got that in Prior, the Sri Lankans have got that (in Kumar Sangakkara) and South Africa have got that in AB de Villiers. I think Wade will get the gloves, Brad Haddin will go as his deputy and just to throw a smokey in there, you might even end up having Haddin as a batsman. But Wade's got the gloves at the moment, he got a wonderful 100 against Sri Lanka under pressure at the SCG in the last Test match we played. He's averaging 46 in nine Tests and will start, but Haddin may bat at six. There's a whole heap of stuff that could happen and we change our side every match!"
Nathan Lyon (19 Tests, 61 wickets, Av 32.16)
GW: "He's played 19 Test matches, 61 wickets at 32. His job is to contain and also clean up the tail - he does that very, very well. He's the quickest off-spinner in Australian Test history to 50 wickets. The team absolutely love him. When Mike Hussey retired, Hussey used to sing the team song after a Test victory in the Australian changing room, he had no hesitation handing that mantle over to Nathan Lyon. Very well-liked, very well respected. Pup likes him, he knows he's no Shane Warne and he knows that he's probably not the best off-spinner in the world but he trusts him and he knows his job and he is a great spirit around the sheds. He'll get first crack at it no doubt about it."
James Pattinson (7 Tests, 31 wickets, Av 22.09)
GW: "He's a tremendous player, really bullish. Very strong, a bit like a young Merv Hughes but better looking. The ladies will certainly enjoy him. He's one of those blokes who will walk down and give a stare to the batsman, work up the crowd a little bit but unfortunately he's had some injuries, but a quality player and certainly someone who, if fit, will be playing. Can bat a bit as well, got 31 wickets at 22 couple of five-fors, he's someone who will play if fit no doubt about."
Pat Cummins (1 Test, 7 wickets, Av 16.71)
GW: "I think it may be too soon for him to go to England (due to injury) but okay for when you guys come back here for the second series. One Test, seven wickets and a five-for. Tremendous player again, very strong. They build the bowlers really strong over here. They all look like James Anderson but they can't bowl at his level for long enough. We seem to continue to have injuries just as they are up and running and we start to get excited. Unfortunately we've got plenty of bowlers here in Australia but none of them are stepping up enough, consistently and getting through Test matches one after another."
Jackson Bird (2 Tests, 11 wickets, Av 16.18)
GW: "The Bird Man! The incumbent! He actually comes from the local club that I used to play for and I take an u13 rep team and he used to play in that rep team about 10 years ago and I said to my boys after he got selected for the Boxing Day Test ' there you go, if you work hard and you know what you need to do and you put the work in, anything can happen'. And there he was representing Australia in a Boxing Day Test! He's just like Glenn McGrath mate - that should put shivers up the English! Jackson Bird will play, there's no doubt about it, he won't open the bowling I wouldn't have thought, but he'll probably be first change. He's just like McGrath, he hits the top of off stump, he has that nagging length and he's around about the same pace and I think he'll have a pretty good time over in English conditions. He keeps it pretty simple, nagging and nagging and boring people out like McGrath did so well for over a decade.
Mitchell Starc (7 Tests, 28 wickets, Av 29.32)
GW: "I've sat with the Barmy Army long enough to know how much they love Mitchell Johnson and want us to select him but I think Mitchell Starc is ahead of him at the moment and will get that all-rounder sort of spot because he's been batting really well. It's nice to have the variety with the left-hand. The only thing is he's not quite as quick as Mitchell Johnson."