Aus­tralia look­ing more and more like Eng­land

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - PAUL NEW­MAN’S ASHES DIARY

IT IS a bit strange watch­ing a tour match at the Mel­bourne Cricket Ground. It is, as some­one here said, like watch­ing a county cricket match at Wem­b­ley.

The vast stands of this mag­nif­i­cent arena stood mainly empty as Eng­land went through their paces against the DEC Bushrangers – or as we used to know them Vic­to­ria – in what can def­i­nitely be de­scribed as a low-key af­fair ahead of the third Test.

It is not low key, of course, for the three Eng­land fast bowlers who are des­per­ate to re­place Stu­art Broad at Perth and Chris Trem­lett, Tim Bres­nan and Aj­mal Shahzad have all been busy here try­ing to break through on a desperately slow and flat Mel­bourne wicket.

This has been de­scribed as a shoot-out be­tween the three but, as Andy Flower said here the other day, Eng­land have a clear idea of who they want to play at the WACA.

And it is un­likely that those plans will be af­fected by what hap­pens here in this three-day match.

It was also in­ter­est­ing, in that same press con­fer­ence, when Flower said that Steven Finn would prob­a­bly not take the new ball in the Perth Test, mean­ing that who­ever is the cho­sen one will step up along­side Jimmy An­der­son with Finn as first change in the re­worked Eng­land at­tack.

The fact that Bres­nan was first change at the MCG, then, might sug­gest that he is at the bot­tom of the queue but per­haps I am just search­ing too hard for clues.

I would be very sur­prised if it is not Trem­lett who plays at Perth. Flower is ex­pect­ing a fast, bouncy track at the WACA, al­beit not one to ri­val the glory days of Perth, and it is Trem­lett who was se­lected for this tour be­cause of his abil- ity to take ad­van­tage of just such a pitch. If he does not play at Perth then re­ally he is not go­ing to play any­where.

Still, Eng­land’s one se­lec­tion dilemma has noth­ing on the Aussies. They re­ally do seem to be go­ing round in cir­cles as their se­lec­tion for the third Test would sug­gest.

Hav­ing seen one left-arm spin­ner with a mod­est record in Xavier Doherty flop in the first two Tests they have now gone for a re­place­ment lef­tarmer who has played just five first-class matches.

Michael Beer, said to be a fierce sledger, was a pro­lific wicket-taker in grade cricket in Mel­bourne but did not play a sin­gle game for Vic­to­ria and moved across to Western Aus­tralia this year. Since then he has pros­pered and did well against Eng­land in the open­ing match of this tour, tak­ing five wick­ets, but it seems as­ton­ish­ing that he should be picked now.

He only made his first-class de­but, at 26, two months ago and can hardly be said to have been picked for his lo­cal knowl­edge be­cause he has only played three first-class games at the WACA.

What on earth has Nathan Hau­ritz done to up­set Ricky Ponting?

Within min­utes of the Aus­tralian se­lec­tors fi­nally re­veal­ing their hand yes­ter­day, Phil Hughes, who will play in place of Simon Katich, con­tin­ued his dis­mal run in do­mes­tic cricket here for New South Wales by mak­ing a duck.

Re­ally, you just couldn’t make it up from an Aus­tralian point of view at the moment.

There is one match that the Aussies might have a good chance of win­ning.

It will come in Perth on Mon­day when the English press take on our Aus­tralian coun­ter­parts in the “Clash for the Ash”. It prom­ises to be an epic bat­tle!

The again it might not be. I’m cur­rently sweat­ing on my se­lec­tion at the moment and I must con­fess that the signs from our chair­man of se­lec­tors An­drew Miller of cricinfo are not promis­ing for me.

The ques­tion is, ap­proach­ing my 45th birth­day and a pound or two over­weight, whether I can re­al­is­ti­cally squeeze out the young bloods emerg­ing in the press box these days.

And is there place for a spe­cial­ist wick­et­keeper like me in these mod­ern days? I fear my bat­ting might let me down. All I can do is put my hand up and see whether the se­lec­tors opt for continuity or start again with a pol­icy based on youth. I will let you know what hap­pens.

Back back to the real bat­tle for crick­et­ing supremacy, and a chance per­haps for us all to catch our breath and re­flect on the ex­tra­or­di­nary events of this se­ries so far.

Eng­land ac­tu­ally may have plenty of time to re­flect on what they have done so far be­cause it will not stop rain­ing here in Mel­bourne and there is a strong chance of the tour match be­ing af­fected by the weather.

You see, such has been the role re­ver­sal in this Ashes se­ries that even the Aus­tralian weather has be­come more like Eng­land’s while the Eng­land cricket team have been much, much more like the Aus­tralian teams we have known in the past. Strange times in­deed. – Daily Mail

URN: Bat­tle for the Ashes

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