Ian Baker - England will fancy their chances in Australia
12 Oct 2010 - 13:16:05
England's players will be enjoying themselves at the moment. Perhaps because they have a month off cricket. Perhaps because they are on their holidays. Perhaps because they are getting the chance for an extended period of time with their friends and families. Or perhaps because they are watching Australia's Test series in India.
If they are doing the latter, there will be one or two smiles. Why? Because Ricky Ponting's men look a shadow of their former selves.
Ahead of previous tours down under, England's batsmen will have sleepless nights. 'How do we deal with Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie, Brett Lee? And then when they are off, how on earth do we play Shane Warne?'
Now they will be dreaming about how many runs they can score against an attack that frightens no-one. Suddenly it's: ‘Mitchell Johnson? Yes please. Nathan Hauritz? Help yourself.’
Am I being too harsh? Maybe. Taking wickets in Indian conditions is dramatically different to Australian and it is much harder for the quicks.
And all six premier Australian batsmen look in reasonable nick and in that respect Messrs Anderson, Broad, Finn and Swann may not be in just as confident mood.
I'd say England's 2005 Ashes winning side with a fully fit Michael Vaughan and Andrew Flintoff is a much better one than this current one. And arguably captain Flintoff aside the squad that defended them 18 months later better than now.
But Australia have got considerably weaker since. Warne, McGrath, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer all exited the scene at similar times and replacing them has not been easy - and will take years.
We should be wary just how much we write off the Baggy Green men because one thing you can always guarantee with Australia is they will fight for their lives and give everything for the cause. The competitive instinct makes Australia one of the best sporting nations in the world. But at the same time you have to really believe that England will never have a better chance of winning a series in Australia. They may be recharging their batteries at the moment, but Andrew Strauss and his troops will be counting down the days until they arrive at Heathrow Airport on Friday, October 29.