Ian Baker - Confident England in control
17 Nov 2010 - 13:21:19
The phoney war is about to be over and the action about to begin. And for probably the first time in a series with Australia, England go into it having won the pre-Ashes mind games.
Shane Warne accuses them of being arrogant. Well what does that make Australian sides in the past? England have got every reason to smile and be as cocky as they wish. They are playing good cricket, have adapted to Australian cricket well and have an excellent team-spirit.
And just like Australia have done for most of the last 25 years, know they are a much better team than their rivals.
There's no 5-0 predictions from the Australian camp. And I'd be very surprised if England do not win the series comfortably given the two sides' form going into it.
Australia have named a 17-man squad for the Ashes. 17? That's more than England's whole touring party. It's not a very confident noise from the selectors. Their side is in such disarray that they simply do not know who to pick.
Injuries have played their part too and Australia are sweating on the fitness of Michael Clarke, Ryan Harris, Doug Bollinger and Simon Katich. It's usually England that worry about the fitness of players going into Ashes series. After nightmares with Darren Gough, Graham Thorpe, Andrew Flintoff and Michael Vaughan in the past, England will name (touch wood) a first choice eleven for next week's Brisbane opener.
And as a further display of total confidence, England have all but named their line-up for the Gabba Test given their tour selections so far. By resting Graeme Swann, Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad and Steve Finn and not selecting Eoin Morgan for any of the warm-ups, they are already showing their hand.
But it is psychologically a very good thing to do. They are putting the knife into Ricky Ponting's side, the body language is superb and it is now a very difficult tide for Australia to turn - and we have not even started yet.
Of course there is a chance England may be over-confident, but in Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower they have the right men to prevent it. For now we can just revel in an England side taking it to the Aussies - and boy do they hate it!