Saturday, July 6, 2013

2013 Ashes draft, part 2: The foot soldiers

In part two of our inaugural Ashes draft, Dave Siddall of World Cricket Watch and I select those players that we'll win and lose with - the foot soldiers. Click here for the rules, and here for part one (the elite).

Selection 5
Matt - With Clarke gone, the rest of the batting talent available (bar one) doesn’t appeal.  So I’ll take the other closest thing to a certainty in both bowling lineups: Graeme Swann.  While I still believe in Nathan Lyon - and have fully invested in futures stocks in Ashton Agar - Swann is undoubtedly the best spin bowler in the matchup and you can bet he’ll bamboozle Hughes at least three times this series.

Dave - And there’s the first real facepalm moment of this draft. Graeme Swann should have been a pick of mine after Matt Prior as a major difference between the two sides. Onwards.  My friend and colleague Jonathan Howcroft recently described Shane Watson as the epitome of everything that’s wrong with Australian cricket. Based on Watto’s soap opera of recent years and fairly mediocre record that’s a harsh but fair assessment. Nevertheless a return to the opening spot should prove a fresh start. Watson, the reluctant bowler, is also a wicket taker (averages 30 with the ball) and if he decides to think more of the team’s needs rather than his own needs, he could provide some balance that Australia lacks. So much talent, let’s see it prove matchwinning for a change.

Selection 6
Matt - I’m so glad this player is here now; I’d held my breath for the last two picks hoping Dave would think I didn’t totally rate him: Joe Root.  The kid can play, and with the wayward tendencies of Mitch Starc and James Pattinson, a 500-run series is eminently on the cards.  This is also a double-edged sword (I hope) - meaning I think I’ve tagged the two most reliable openers available and now Dave’s stuck with Watson and … Cowan?

Dave - Facepalm moment two. With Matt picking Joe Root, I realise I’m going to be struggling and forced to pick any number of Australia’s wobbly top and middle order. Nevertheless I’ll pursue with a clear tactic of picking the best quick bowlers on display. Stuart Broad looked back to his best against New Zealand and if he can bowl the same slightly fuller length he could be the leading wicket taker in the series.

Selection 7
Matt - While my batting is pretty much exactly as I’d hoped (minus Clarke, of course), you can make a convincing argument that the two best “strike” bowlers play for Dave’s XI.  To that end, my seventh selection is Mitch Starc.  I’d prefer to compare Starc to a rich man’s Mike Whitney rather than Mitchell Johnson - comparing Mitch to anyone where I’m from is tantamount to pissing off Aaron Hernandez.  Despite an average of just over 34, he take wickets and should be suited to English conditions.  I’m not in love with his economy rate, however.

Dave - Face palm moment number 2. With Matt picking Joe Root I realise I’m going to be struggling and forced to pick any number of Australia’s wobbly top and middle order. So to break that trend, Ian Bell – once Australia’s and in particular Warne’s bunny – gets the nod. Considering his aesthetics and volume of runs, he’s the next best batsmen available.

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