Untested but defiant, Aussies seek to strike ‘fear’

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 23 Nov 2017 10:21:08


 

BRISBANE,

NEW-LOOK Australia will bank on their pace attack terrifying England once again when two unfamiliar line-ups open hostilities for the Ashes, the oldest prize in Test cricket, in Brisbane on Thursday.
Australia’s surprise selections raised plenty of eyebrows but they will hope their pace trio of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins can replicate Mitchell Johnson’s devastating bowling at the Gabba ground in 2013.


England also have an untested batting line-up and their campaign to retain the Ashes urn was dealt a major blow when star all-rounder Ben Stokes was suspended pending investigations into a brawl outside a night-club.
The build-up to the biennial series, which dates back to the 19th century, has been traditionally feisty, with opener David Warner saying he regarded facing England as “war” and several Australian players reminding the tourists of their treatment by Johnson four years ago.
The firebrand left-armer set the tone for the 2013-2014 Ashes with his ferocious fast bowling to take nine wickets at the Gabba as the Australians inflicted a crushing 381-run defeat, triggering a 5-0 series rout.


The Starc-led pace trio have never bowled together in a Test but they stack up favourably with Australia’s greatest pace combinations, with their combined career strike rates better than their gloried predecessors.
‘Improving’ Warner gets Ashes nod despite neck scare
AUSTRALIA opener David Warner’s neck injury has improved and he is expected to play in the first Ashes Test against England in Brisbane, captain Steve Smith said.
Warner, the team’s vice-captain, hurt his neck while taking a high catch at training this week, but Smith said his condition improved significantly overnight.
“He’s very confident and he says he’ll be right to go,” Smith told reporters ahead of Thursday’s Ashes opener at the Gabba.


“He’ll be OK. It’s part and parcel of playing cricket. Guys have injuries every now and then and have little niggles.
“He’s improved a fair bit over the last 24 hours and hopefully he can keep improving and be 100 percent at match time.”
Australia quicks ‘more nasty than Johnson’: Smith
AUSTRALIA’S “scary” fast bowlers are “more nasty” than Mitchell Johnson, skipper Steve Smith said, echoing repeated warnings to England ahead of the opening Ashes Test in Brisbane.


Much mention has been made of the aggressive Johnson’s devastating bowling in the 2013-2014 Ashes, when he took 37 wickets in Australia’s 5-0 series whitewash. “It’s been exciting watching them bowl in the nets, I think back to 2013 when Mitchell (Johnson) was bowling in the nets, these guys are just as nasty, if not more nasty to be honest,” Smith told reporters.


Spotlight falls on Smith, Root
TWO of the world’s best batsmen will be in opposition when Australia’s Steve Smith and England’s Joe Root both lead their countries for the first time in an Ashes Test.
Smith may be an unorthodox run-scorer but he is currently top of the Test batting rankings and Root, a more classical stylist, is second in that table.
Shoring up a fallible top order is something both Smith, with assistance from David Warner, and Root, backed up by a left-handed opener of his own in Alastair Cook, have got used to in recent months.


If either star batsman struggles for runs, it is liable to
damage their team’s prospects and add to the pressure that confronts most captains in an Ashes series. At 28, Smith is two years older than Root and the more experienced captain, having led Australia in 26 Tests, whereas Root has just come off his first home season as skipper. After series wins over South Africa and the West Indies, the Ashes is the Yorkshireman’s first overseas tour at the helm.


Neither of the two captains is known for especially unusual tactics, while they’ve each shown it is possible to play aggressive cricket without resorting to over-the-top ‘sledging’, verbal abuse.