In yesterday's post, Dave Siddall (of World Cricket Watch) and introduced our first ever Ashes draft. Today, we break down picks 1 - 4.
Matt - there’s only one person I want with the no. 1 pick in the draft: England captain Alastair Cook. The young skipper has an excellent record against the Old Enemy, averaging 50.36 in fifteen Tests and 69.00 as captain. Subtract his forlorn 2006-07 campaign in Australia (against a re-ascendent McGrath, Warne and Stuart Clark) and the average races up to 98.8. Despite the presence of Joe Root and perhaps now Chris Rogers, he is set to be the standout opener of the series.
Dave - After Matt won the coin toss (I’m trusting him on this one), I’m pretty happy that I still have the best bowler in the series to pick. Old clichés of needing to take 20 wickets to win a test aside, James Anderson is England’s most consistent performer and his jedi-like control of swing should expose just how loose Australia’s top order can be outside off stump.
Matt - To see Anderson selected is a bit of a blow - I had him ranked as my second overall pick, especially given that one or more of David Warner, Phil Hughes or Usman Khawaja seems likely to play in at least the first few Tests. With him gone, I moved onto the second-best natural run-scorer in the series, Jonathan Trott (average 86.42 against Australian attacks far superior to this one).
Dave - The greatest wicket-keeper batsman to ever represent England, Matt Prior provides quick runs to set up Test victories and a solid defence to snatch draws from the jaws of defeat (England’s recent tour of New Zealand being the most notable example). His impeccable glove-work is superior to both Haddin and Wade.
Matt - Matt Prior, Dave? Wow, you really didn’t want to be stuck with Brad Haddin. That, I can understand, but … this early? With KP, Pattinson and well, everyone, left on the board? This means I’m set up for my fourth overall pick, Pietersen. With the three best fit batsmen in my lineup, this means that my esteemed colleague is likely to see Phil Hughes propping up his order … on English pitches, I’m fine with that.
Dave - My 3rd pick may seem way leftfield but the idealist in me wants Australia to be aggressive and James Pattinson is their deadliest bowler. Few of England’s batsmen have faced Pattinson and the raw aggression could give Australia an early blow that would ignite the Ashes. 40 wickets in 10 matches at an average of 23 is not far off Philanderesque.
Matt - Where do I go now? This is the first real poser for me so far - I’ve got three of my first four selections with which I’m of course very happy, but now the choice comes down to the Australian captain - who on talent goes at number 2, but for his (very) dodgy back - or a bowler. I with the only real “sure thing” fast man gone, the safest next bet is Victorian cult figure Peter Siddle, who should feature in all five Tests. If he plays, he gets poles.
Dave - A metrosexual run machine with a dodgy back, Michael Clarke’s appetite for runs since becoming Australia’s captain has been insatiable. Rumour has it he’s not as inspirational in the dressing room than when batting in the middle. Perhaps Darren Lehman’s appointment can galvanise the squad and Clarke can focus on amassing runs.