Ashes 2013-14: Talking points as England draw with Australia A
Ashes 2013-14: Joel Lamy reflects on England's rain-affected second warm-up match against Australia A
England choose their first XI
England are extremely tight-lipped when it comes to giving clues about who will play in the Tests, in contrast to the Australians. However, it appears they have settled on their team for the first Test in Brisbane barring injury or a superlative performance in the last warm-up match. Michael Carberry looks set to play his second Test match, three-and-a-half years after opening up with Alastair Cook in Bangladesh. Joe Root should bat at number six where he played so well before the start of the last Ashes series, although he struggled at times in his half-century here and survived a very strong lbw appeal. Gary Ballance appears to have leap-frogged his Yorkshire team-mate Jonny Bairstow in the pecking order, but scores of 0 and four have done nothing to push his claims. Bairstow, on the other hand, has not been picked once and looks set to carry the drinks on tour once again unless Matt Prior does not recover from injury in time. In the bowling department, Chris Tremlett appears to be the choice as the third fast-bowler. He has taken just one wicket in two tour matches, but he offers more control than Steven Finn and the Australians will not have good memories from his last tour Down Under three years ago.
England agree with Shane Warne
England may not agree with everything Shane Warne says, especially regarding the captaincy issue, but the Australia legend advocated playing Carberry as an opener and dropping Root down the order, which it seems the tourists will now do. If this proves to be the case, it will be an incredible rise for the 33-year-old, whose career at one point seemed over when he suffered with a blood clot on his lung. He scored 687 runs at an average of a touch under 43 in Division Two of the County Championship this season which did not warrant a call-up to the national side – but England seem to like Carberry. Interestingly, Australia already feel they have worked him out. Speaking after day one of this warm-up match, Australia A’s wicket-keeper Tim Paine said: “If he does play in the Ashes, he’ll be hard to get out, but there is an area there definitely: if you stack up your gully region I think at some point you’ll get a chance.” England have also been eager to bring Tremlett back into the fold. Warne once said Tremlett was good enough to be the number one bowler in the world and he will be pleased to see his former Hampshire colleague in the England side, if not a little fearful for his countrymen.
Bairstow out of favour
England seemed to have a new star when Bairstow scored 95 and 54 against a rampant South African attack at Lord’s last summer, but since then, he has struggled to cement his place. He only featured in one Test out of seven over the winter and, although he scored a few runs this summer against New Zealand, he averaged 29 in the Ashes and was dropped for the final Test after seeing his stumps constantly splattered. It appears that another winter tour carrying the drinks is on the cards for Bairstow barring a problem with Prior. It has to be hoped that he can use this time off to work on the chinks in his technique.
Hobart means nothing as Australia hit form
Just as Australia learned nothing from hammering county attacks in Somerset and Worcestershire this summer, so England will not have learned much from Hobart. They were playing an Australia A side in name only and their bowling attack was of the standard Carberry would have faced with Hampshire this season. Hobart is traditionally chosen as a warm-up venue as it is unlike the conditions touring sides will face in Brisbane. Last Ashes series here, England sent their entire bowling attack to acclimatise in hot and humid Brisbane rather than play their final warm-up match in the far colder and wetter capital of Tasmania. A bigger indicator of England’s shape heading into the first Test will be seen next week against a stronger Australian Invitational side. Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann and Kevin Pietersen will also get the chance to get some form going into Brisbane. England’s match in Hobart coincided with a round of Sheffield Shield fixtures in Australia. There were hundreds for Test batsmen Chris Rogers, Steve Smith and David Warner, who is in blistering form. A reminder that England’s bowlers will find things more difficult this time around.