Blogs & Opinion


The Ashes: Australia have picked well, says Nasser Hussain

Nasser Hussain - Nasser Hussain Posted 24th April 2013 view comments

I'm sure Alastair Cook and Andy Flower will look at Australia's Ashes party and think 'that's as good a squad as they could have picked'.

Sometimes John Inverarity, Australia's chairman of selectors, comes up with something a little left-field but this time they've not tried to be clever and have picked well.

Re-instating Brad Haddin as vice-captain is a shrewd move. He's always impressed me. Opposition teams tend not to enjoy playing against him, which I always think is a good sign.

Haddin and Clarke (centre) hope to replicate the Ashes successes of Steve Waugh (L) and Mark Taylor (R)

Haddin and Clarke (centre) hope to replicate the Ashes successes of Steve Waugh (L) and Mark Taylor (R)

I know Haddin rubs England up the wrong way; he's a fighter and a scrapper, plus he's got a good record against England, averaging over 45 in nine Tests. Haddin makes Australia stronger.

The general vibe going around is that Australia have got a really good seam attack but they haven't got many good batsmen. I think both parts of that notion are a little bit exaggerated.

I think this summer's Ashes will be a lot tighter than some people are making out.

Nasser Hussain
Quotes of the week

THE ASHES ON SKY SPORTS

First Test, July 10

Australia do have some good batsmen. With the exception of Michael Clarke, they are not in the same class as Ricky Ponting or Mark Waugh in their pomp but how many players have been?

Several of their batsmen - Ed Cowan, Chris Rogers, Shane Watson, Philip Hughes, Usman Khawaja - are very used to English conditions, which is important.

The inclusion of 35-year-old Rogers is good - anyone who averages over 50 in first-class cricket in Australia and England must be able to bat a bit.

Having spent nine seasons in county cricket - at Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and now Middlesex - he'll know the English bowlers well.

Yes, it's a horses-for-courses selection and is a bit short-term but England and Australia will be judged on the next 10 Ashes Test matches. That will be uppermost in the players' minds.

Decent

Australia's attack is strong but not as strong as some are making out. It's a good seam attack but falls short of South Africa's and is not quite as potent as England's.

The return of Ryan Harris will undoubtedly strengthen their side and spinner Nathan Lyon is no fool. Every Australian spinner is inevitably compared to Shane Warne but we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that Lyon is a decent off-spin bowler.

Lyon doesn't bowl darts - he gives it a rip and likes to attack, much like Tim May or Nathan Hauritz. He struggled in India because they play spin so well there.

He was completely out-bowled by Ravichandran Ashwin, who in turn was out-bowled by Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar a few months' earlier.

That doesn't reflect well on him and I don't think Lyon is someone you'd stay up and worry about at night but he is decent, steady performer.

Tighter

The comparative performances of England and Australia against pretty much the same Indian side this winter has got to say something ahead of the Ashes.

If you asked India now who are the better side - the England team who beat them 2-1 or the Australian team they crushed 4-0 - they'll say England to a man.

But an Ashes battle in English conditions is very different and I think this summer's series will be a lot tighter than some people are making out.

I caught up with Cook earlier this week to film an all-encompassing interview you can see on Sky Sports later this summer.

Cook was very honest about his captaincy and spoke about how much he's enjoying it and what he learned from the New Zealand tour.

He was very self-critical of some of the decisions he made over there and is determined not to repeat them this summer.

Australia will begin the Ashes as underdogs so the pressure will be off them a little bit. Everyone is expecting England to win and, as we saw in New Zealand, things don't always turn out that way.

England will have to be at their best to beat Australia. The players in this squad are no fools; Australia are just not the side they used to be. The sooner they realise that, the better for them.

back to top

Other Cricket Experts:

Latest Posts in Cricket:

Latest News RSS feeds

Middlesex reward Malan

Middlesex batsman Dawid Malan has been rewarded for his good form with a new three-year contract.

Cairns charged with perjury

Former New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns will appear in court today to face one count of perjury linked to a libel action he brought in the UK in 2012.

Yorkshire dominate PCA awards

Yorkshire dominated the PCA Awards with openers Adam Lyth and Alex Lees scooping two of the top honours.

Players behind captain Cook

Jimmy Anderson says England's players never had any doubt Alistair Cook would remain captain for the 2015 World Cup.

New Zealand recall Bracewell

Doug Bracewell has been recalled to the New Zealand Test squad for next month’s three-match series against Pakistan.

Features

Division One review

Division One review

The summer sun slowly begins to make way for frost and fog as another domestic season is ticked off with mixed results for the 18 first-class counties.

Division Two review

Division Two review

Hampshire and Worcestershire clinched promotion but things are going from bad to worse at Leicestershire. We review the Division Two season club-by-club...

Lacashire relegated: Paul Allott says Glenn Chapple won't coach and captain next term

Lacashire relegated: Paul Allott says Glenn Chapple won't coach and captain next term

Paul Allott reckons Glen Chapple is unlikely to be both player and coach for Lancashire next season.