Graeme Swann’s Ashes Blog: No Pressure, But Cook Can Make It 4-1

England have won The Ashes!

I had a feeling that Stuart Broad was going to have one of his unplayable games at Trent Bridge, and so it proved, but no-one could have predicted the carnage of that first morning in Nottingham when Australia were bowled out for 60. I’m not sure anything like that has ever happened before.

Everything just felt right, and I said on the radio before the game that I felt confident something special was on the way. It just fell right, it felt good.

It was incredible what the boys managed to achieve though, and Broady’s amazing figures of 8-15 are now right up there with anything in Ashes history.

He was phenomenal, and it mustn’t be forgotten that these were good batsmen he was getting out, not tail-enders. He ripped the heart out of Australia.


Steve Smith’s Struggles

Northamptonshire v Australia - Tour Match : News Photo

One of those good batsmen was Steve Smith, and it’s certainly been a below-par series for him given that he came into it rightly regarded as one of the best batsmen in the world.

He’s only really had one good innings on that flat pitch at Lord’s, and he’s really struggled with the moving ball as have so many of his teammates. He’s a remarkable player in Australian conditions, though, and given his duck in the tour match at Northants he must be desperate to get back to them soon.

He’s just not been with it here.


Goodbye Michael Clarke

England v Australia: 4th Investec Ashes Test - Day Three : News Photo

Smith is the man that Australia have chosen to replace the departing skipper Michael Clarke, who will play in his final ever Test match at The Oval.

I’d like to pay tribute to ‘Pup’, who has been an absolutely wonderful player to watch over the years, and was undoubtedly the best player of spin that I ever bowled at in Test cricket.

He had wonderful footwork, rotated the strike superbly and also proved himself to be a very good captain. He’ll be a huge miss for Australia and cricket in general.


Onto The Oval

England v Australia: 4th Investec Ashes Test - Day Three : News Photo

As for the match at The Oval, there is bound to be a slight drop in the level of motivation for England given that we’ve already secured the series, but I wouldn’t change the team at all, and we should go for the 4-1.

There has been talk of including Adil Rashid in the run-up to the One Day Internationals, but I think we should stick to what we’ve got – and that includes not rushing Jimmy Anderson back too soon.

I think it would be crazy to play Jimmy, even if he says he’s fit.

Obviously he’s one of the best bowlers in the world and you always want these players in your team, but with the series secured I’d wrap him up in cotton wool.

Can you imagine if he got injured again playing in what is effectively a dead rubber? We need him to play in the UAE and South Africa later this year and early next, so I wouldn’t pick him even though – knowing him – he’ll be desperate to play.


Fifth Test Tips

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

As for who’ll do well at The Oval, I think that we’re going to see a good performance from the England skipper Alastair Cook.

The pressure is off Cooky’s shoulders now. He’s won The Ashes, it was great to see him with a smile on his face at Trent Bridge and I reckon he’ll show his class here. He’s 5.00 to top score for England in the first innings.

As for Australia, the only one of their batsmen to consistently impress has been Chris Rogers, who’ll be playing his final Test here.

He’s repeatedly shown that his technique is impressive in English conditions, he’s got lots of good starts and I reckon he’ll top score for the Aussies in the first innings at 4.50.

With the ball, I’ve been impressed with the performances of Mitchell Starc for Australia, as he’s kept putting his hand up and bowling well. He’s at 3.40 to be their top bowler in the first innings, and given that it might spin a bit I’m going to go for Moeen Ali for England. Everyone else has got wickets and I reckon it’s his turn. He’s at 7.50.


The Verdict

As for who’ll win this one, I think it’s going to be pretty tight but I reckon I’m just 55-45 in favour of England. 

If it swings there’s no doubt we’ll win, but if it doesn’t the Aussies will stick in there and fight to the end, but I’m just going to go for a narrow England victory at 2.25.


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