It’s fair to say that over the course of my brief life, the Poms haven’t had too much success when travelling to Australian shores. The 2006-07 Ashes series is the first I can vividly remember, I was an aspiring nine-year old who pleasantly witnessed an assault in the way of a 5-0 drubbing.
Aside from the forgetful 2010-11 campaign, England haven’t actually won an Ashes test in Australia since the 2002-03. But even in two whitewashes and a 4-0 pummelling last time around, I always felt the English squad posed some kind of threat.
If you look back at the 2006-07 squad, the bowling unit wasn’t up to much and were dealt with accordingly in most innings’. But the top six, in retrospect, was made up of very good cricketers. Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook opening, two of their best ever, Ian Bell just starting out but who carved himself a nice career, Paul Collingwood made a memorable double hundred that series in Adelaide, an ever-flamboyant Kevin Pietersen, and one of the best all-rounders of the century in Freddie Flintoff. They may have come up against Warne, McGrath, Lee and Stuart Clark, but it still startles me how they lost so comprehensively.
The 2013-14 squad had some big names; Cook was skipper, Bell was there, Pietersen, whose career was ended by the whole disaster, Jonathan Trott’s practically ended at the hands of Mitchell Johnson, Graham Swann’s too finished in that series. Matt Prior was a great keeper till that point, there was the everlasting combo of Anderson and Broad, plus the rise of Ben Stokes who made 120 in the third test at the WACA.
Granted, the 2017-18 squad didn’t have the big names. The core of Cook, Root, Anderson and Broad were still there, the former two of which averaged a handy 47 with the bat.
Fast-forward to this squad and whilst those same names remain (excluding Cook), Anderson is verging on 40 years of age and Broad has injury issues. Stokes remains out indefinitely, leaving a hole the size of the Indian Ocean, particularly in a team completely void of star power.
Outside of Root, a definitive top five batsman in the game, who honestly poses a threat with bat or ball? With Archer injured, Mark Wood seems like the only bloke capable of bowling 140-145kph+, and he too has had his injury issues. Woakes is a handy cricketer and Robinson showed good signs in the English summer, but can they penetrate on flat wickets where you need some extra speed?
With the bat, everyone outside of Root seem like they’re one bad innings away from copping the axe. Bairstow (78 tests), Butler (53), Burns (29), Pope (20) and Malan (17) all average less than 35 with the bat. Hameed is just over that but hasn’t cemented himself across six tests. Honestly, against an experienced Australian bowling quartet, who the hell is making runs?
It may seem like I’m shitting on the Poms and I probably am, but I’m also trying to look at this from a realistic and statistical point of view. From what I see, this looks like the worst squad to travel to Australia in my lifetime. With that in mind, I’m perfectly happy to cop the flack when they leave with the little urn in one hand, and the middle finger of the other pointed directly at me.