Graeme Swann’s Ashes Blog: Moeen Ali Can Turn The Tide At Edgbaston

So its 1-1 heading into the third Test after Australia’s dominant win at Lord’s, but I get the feeling that things will be different at Edgbaston.

I wasn’t too surprised at the flatness of the pitch at Lord’s, but was a little disappointed at how slow it was. Pitches there tend to be a little better earlier in the season as there’s a bit more moisture around, and this one really wasn’t ideal.

It was one of those pitches which meant that the toss was a huge factor, and even though you can take nothing away from Australia as they played some brilliant cricket, losing the toss really took the wind out of England’s sails. They didn’t turn up. It was a final nail in the coffin before the first day!


Bairstow Alters The Ballance Of The Side

Durham v Yorkshire - LV County Championship - Division One : News Photo

England shouldn’t look to make excuses though, and the big change before this Test sees Jonny Bairstow come into the side for Gary Ballance.

Gaz hasn’t looked the same since he’s played back in England this summer, and he’s struggled against the left-armers of both New Zealand and Australia. He just seems to have something of a blind spot there, but I’m sure he’ll work on it. He’s still a class player and still averages almost 50 in Tests.

It’s just a bit of a blip, but it’s a blip which gives a chance to Bairstow – and it’s a chance he deserves.

He’s been piling on the runs in county cricket. He’s a brilliant player and a brilliant lad and I’m really excited to see him at Edgbaston. I reckon he’ll go well.


Time For The Bell To Toll

England Nets Session : News Photo

Whilst one change sees Bairstow come in, I’m happy that we haven’t seen another and that we’re sticking with Ian Bell.

There have been a lot of calls for Belly to be dropped, but I think it’s the right thing to stick with him on his home ground.

Bell will realise that all eyes are on him this week, and that if he doesn’t do well and someone like James Taylor gets some runs in the county game then there will be calls for change.

But I think the best thing he can do is treat this as a kind of ‘last chance saloon.’ He’ll refuse to go out without a fight in front of his home fans, and if he can find his fluidity I think he’ll do well.

He’s an absolutely class player, and England can’t just discard someone of that quality easily. You’ve got to get him in the team if you can as his record speaks for itself. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of his character.


Smith On Song

England v Australia: 2nd Investec Ashes Test - Day Four : News Photo

We can’t not mention Steven Smith, who was absolutely brilliant at Lord’s even if the wicket was a dreamy one for him.

You’ve got to take advantage of that though, and full credit to him. My shout that he could struggle at No. 3 ended up looking a little daft, but I think if it swings at Edgbaston he might find it a lot trickier – even if this makes me look daft again!

Of course he’s a very dangerous player, but I just feel that we could see a different type of game here.


Explaining Edgbaston

England v India: 3rd npower Test - Day One : News Photo

As a spinner, I used to get a real thrill driving towards Edgbaston as I always got the feeling I was going to take wickets there.

It’s been a strange pitch through the years, and I think that had something to do with the building work which went on there. When the new stand was under construction the excavation seemed to alter the way the pitch played, and there was a lot of moisture about. I remember playing Pakistan there once and the ball span square!

If it swings, I think we could see Jimmy Anderson bounce back with the new cherry after he disappointed at Lord’s, but the England player who should be really excited is Moeen Ali.

He’s bowled well so far. He’s not had much turn but I reckon that could change at Edgbaston, and I can see him getting five or six in the second innings.


Players To Watch

England v Australia: 2nd Investec Ashes Test - Day Three : News Photo

I’ve spoken about Ian Bell, and I’m backing him to get some runs here. Hopefully he’ll use this game as a massive turnaround for him, and he’s 6.50 to top score for England in the first innings.

Another player who is due some runs is Michael Clarke, who I’m a massive fan of. He’s a class player. I remember playing when he got a hundred in the 2009 series at Edgbaston and I thought he was perfect for the wicket there. He’s 6.00 to top score for Australia first up.

Bowling-wise, I think Nathan Lyon has done well so far and he’ll spin it here. He’s 5.00 to be Australia’s top wicket-taker in the first innings, whilst I’ve already said that Ali will impress but perhaps not until the second innings. He’s 17.00 to be man of the match.


Ali’s Ashes

England v Australia: 1st Investec Ashes Test - Day Four : News Photo

And I’m going to go for Moeen Ali to spin England to victory at 4.35.

It’ll be a result pitch, and I can see both teams getting dismissed for about 300 in their first innings. That’s where Moeen will come in and hopefully put us 2-1 up.

Enjoy the game!


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