Ashes Preview 2010 2011

The much vaunted and awaited Ashes series between Australia and England is only days away and calling the favourites is difficult. The five Test match series will start from the last week of November this year at Brisbane and will culminate into a finale at the Sydney Cricket Ground in the new year.
England have their hands on the urn which they had regained from the Aussies, but given their record in Australia since 1987, it will be a tough call to put them as favourites to retain it. In the last 23 years that the two sides have played against each other, England has won only two series – in 2005 and 2009 – and both have been at home. The last time England was in Australia, they had been whitewashed 5-0.
The other factor going against the English side is that their talisman cricketer, and often a one-man army against the Australian side, Andrew Flintoff has announced his retirement. And with this announcement, the teeny-weeny outside chance of him making a comeback for the Ashes has disappeared.
Not that the Australian side has remained as clinical as it did in the past. The retirements of the greats and consistent injuries to the next-generation cricketers have dented the Aussies to an extent. They did beat Pakistan, West Indies and New Zealand in seven of the eight Test matches, but it is not so much the wins, but the games that they have lost which may be the cause for concern.
The loss to England in the T20 World Cup final and the subsequent ODI loss to the same side could have acted as a blow. But the question that everyone is asking is whether too much should be read into the Australian defeats in a format of the game which is different from the Tests.
England will need their openers to fire in Australia, apart from expecting the pace bowlers to bowl as effectively as the helpful conditions back home. For Australia, spin is a worry – both while facing and delivering and that could peg them back a little. However, the Australian surfaces do not assist spin as much as the English side would like and that, to an extent, blunts the likes of Graeme Swann.
Australia could just be favourites this Ashes, but it could be a lot closer than the last time England was in Australia. And exciting!

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