Australia Squad Announced – Who Has The Edge?

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Can anyone else hardly believe that it has been nearly four years since England’s 2005 Ashes victory? Personally, it seems like yesterday.

Simon Katich leaving a ball to hit his stumps off Freddie, Harmy’s slower ball to dismiss Michael Clarke in the second Test – it is all so memorable and it is all about to be done again.

Australia have named their 16-man squad for the series so we can start to analyse their travelling party. As for England, well they don’t have a Test match until the one at Sophia Gardens in July, so we can safely predict the team they may put out as well.

With this in mind, I thought it might be an idea to look at how the two squads line up against each other. It’s a bit of a long winded process to do it all at once, so let’s do five players at a time, starting with the most recognised batsman.

Philip Hughes v Alistair Cook – This one is a close call. The young Australian has made a fabulous start to his Test career and only time will tell if he can handle the pressure of an Ashes series. Cook scored a century in Australia and seems in decent form, so he could have the edge.

Simon Katich v Andrew Strauss – Other than a couple of dodgy declaration decisions in the West Indies, Strauss has been excellent since taking over as captain. He has also excelled with the bat this time. Katich on the other hand had a nightmare in 2005 and Freddie will be desperate to bowl at him again.

Ricky Ponting v Ravi Bopara – The Australian skipper will, once again, be the most important wicket for England to get this series. He leads from the front for his team and how he performs with the bat could well determine which way this series goes. Bopara has shown some promise of late, but has he got what it takes to outshine Ponting?

Mike Hussey v Kevin Pietersen – These are two very different players, but they both perform valuable roles for their team. Neither have been at their absolute best in recent months though, so perhaps they are saving themselves for the biggest series of all.

Michael Clarke v Paul Collingwood – You never quite know what to expect from Collingwood and it is by no means certain that he will be in the team come Cardiff. However, he is a gritty character and often delivers when he needs to most. As for Clarke, he has all the attributes of a future Australian captain. He is also one of the most experienced members of the team now, so he has a crucial role to play.

There you have it then – England and Australia’s top five. To be honest, it seems rather even when you look at it now. It is these head to head battles that could end up deciding the series though so it is interesting to look at.

Next time for Flintoffs Ashes, I will take a look at the all-rounders and wicket keepers of England and Australia.

Until then, enjoy the One Day Internationals against the West Indies.

By Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about Ashes cricket.

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