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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

50 Things about Ashes Series 2009

Ashes 2009 series has started today with the first test being undergone at Cardiff. Both teams are gearing up to win the series with England looking to retain the title and Australia looking to defend it. Ashes is a traditional test series which was first started in 1882-83. In fact, Ashes is perhaps the most popular test series in cricket; not only because of its tradition; but also for the intensity of competitiveness that both England and Australia put together whenever they face each other. Here, I made a list of 50 things about Ashes 2009 series that you might find useful:

1. Ashes 2009 kicks off from 8 July at the Sophia Gardens, Cardiff.

2. Sophia Gardens, Cardiff has not hosted any test match. So, the first match of the Ashes 2009 will be the debut test match for this ground.

3. There will be five test matches in the series and the venues are: Cardiff, Lord's in London, Edgbaston in Birmingham, Headingley in Leeds and Kennington Oval in London.

4. Australia whitewashed England in the previous Ashes series in 2007 at home as they retained the Ashes titled following a 5-0 victory.

5. England emerged winner under Michael Vaughan in the last Ashes series in England in four years back in 2005.

6. Though Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen of England were initially doubtful for the Ashes 2009 due to their respective injuries, both the players are ready to take on Australia in the upcoming series.

7. Former English legend, Ian Botham, said that England would retain the Ashes title, winning the upcoming series easily.

8. However, Shane Warne, former leg spin great of Australia, thinks that Australia would repeat the success of 2007 by defeating home side 5-0 in the series.

9. Australia’s decade long dominance, which came to an end in 2005, over England was largely attributed by their spinners, especially legendary leg spinner Warne. In fact, Warne was instrumental behind Australia’s 5-0 triumph over England in 2007. However, following the retirement of Shane Warne and Stuart McGill, Australia is now left with no front line spinner who can take up the job left by Warne and McGill. In fact, Australia’s current test squad includes one spinner Nathan Hauritz who did not seem very effective in the tour match against England Lions.

10. Australian pacer Brett Lee would miss the first two tests of Ashes 2009 as he picked up a rib injury during the tour match against England Lions.

11. Ashes 2009 would be the first Ashes series for England’s new captain Andrew Strauss.

12. England will play their first Ashes series under the new permanent coach Andy Flower who was appointed as the permanent coach of England team before the home test series against West Indies. He started his reign excellently well guiding England to win the test series.

13. Inspirational former captain Michael Vaughan was left out of the England squad for the Ashes 2009 series which eventually led him to retire from international cricket recently.

14. Both England captain Andrew Strauss and Aussie captain Ricky Ponting are some worried about the nature of the wicket of Cardiff because the venue has not yet hosted any test match.

15. At 33, Paul Collingwood is the eldest member of the England squad. Australian captain Ricky Ponting is the eldest member of the Australian squad as he is now 34 years old.

16. The youngest member of the pre-Ashes English squad is Adil Rashid, at 21, but 23-year-old Stuart Broad is the youngest member of the England’s squad for the first test. Phillip Hughes, who impressed everyone in his debut test match against South Africa earlier this year, is the youngest member of the Australian squad as he is now 20.

17. The average age of England squad is 27 and half, while the average age of Australian squad is 29 and half.

18. The only uncapped player in the England side is leg spinner Adil Rashid.

19. Australia’s only uncapped player is wicketkeeper batsman Graham Manou.

20. Australia is still the no. 1 team in ICC test ranking, despite their mixed performance over the last one year followed by the retirement of a number of former stars.

21. England currently sits in the 5th position of ICC test ranking, even though they defeated West Indies in their recent home test series.

22. Star Australian all rounder Andrew Symonds is missing the series as he failed to make it to the Australian squad for Ashes 2009.

23. Alike Shane Warne, former Australian legend Glenn McGrath also thinks that Australia will win the series 5-0 against England.

24. On the other hand, former English great Tony Greig backs England to retain the series from Australia.

25. Former Australian captain and legendary batsman Ian Chappell is totally unhappy with the selection of Australian squad for Ashes 2009 series. He thinks that England would have better and balanced bowling attack, if Andrew Flintoff can remain fit and play throughout the series.

26. Australian pace attack includes Mitchell Johnson, Ben Hilfenhaus, Peter Siddle, Stuart Clark and currently injured Brett Lee, alongside two all rounders: Shane Watson and Andrew McDonald- who are capable of helping the frontline pacers with their medium pace bowling.

27. English pace attack involves James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Andrew Flintoff, Paul Collingwood as well as two youngsters Tim Bresnan and Graham Onions.

28. England squad has two specialist spinners Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar.

29. Australian batting line up includes experienced batsmen like Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey and Simon Katich, besides youngsters like Phillip Hughes, Marcus North and two all rounders Shane Watson and Andrew McDonald.

30. England also has some experienced star batsmen like Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Andrew Flintoff as well as inexperienced, but talented batsmen like Ravi Bopara and Matt Prior.

31. As Australia’s long-standing dominance has been fading away now, England fans are now desperate to see England retaining the Ashes titles once again after four years.

32. Australia, on the other hand, is now looking to regain his lost dominance over world cricket, and to do that, winning the Ashes 2009 series is very important. Moreover, a big margin victory would make Australia’s no. 1 place in test cricket more secured.

33. Besides five test matches, Australia is scheduled to play 4 tour matches on their Ashes 2009 tour.

34. Ashes 2009 is going to be the 65th edition of prestigious Ashes series.

35. Sven out of sixteen Australian players including Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey, Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Stuart Clark, Mitchell Johnson and Brett Lee participated in the previous Ashes series two years back in 2007.

36. The current England squad includes eight players: James Anderson, Monty Panesar, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Ian Bell, Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook and Andrew Flintoff- from previous Ashes series.

37. So, you can see only half of the players on both sides were present during the Ashes 2006-07 series.

38. From the current England squad, only Strauss, Pietersen, Flintoff, Collingwood, Bell and Anderson were part of England’s 2005 Ashes triumph in England.

39. Ponting, Stuart Clark, Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin, Katich and Lee from 2005 Ashes series are now present in the current Australian squad.

40. Out of 64 Ashes series, England won 28 and Australia won 31, besides 5 drawn being drawn.

41. Australia won 9 out of last 10 Ashes series which shows a full-dominance by Australia.

42. Ashes 2009 series will be telecast live on several television channels throughout the world. Sky Sports holds the official TV rights of England team and thus, will be broadcasting the series for the English cricket fans in England. Five television channel will bring the highlights of the matches to the England cricket fans.

43. Star Cricket will show the match in India, Bangladesh and some other South Asian countries as well as in China.

43. USA cricket fans would be able to watch the exciting matches of Ashes 2009 live on Zee Sports.

44. Super Sports are going to cover the series for the South African cricket fans.

45. Australian cricket fans will be able to enjoy Ashes 2009 series live on Fox Sports and SBS television channels.

46. New Zealand cricket fans can watch the match Ashes 2009 series live on Sky Sports.

47. Eurosport will telecast the matches live for the European cricket fans, apart from people in England. Eurosport is a pay-per-view tv channel. That means, you have to pay in order to watch the matches of Ashes series live on your television.

48. Pakistani cricket fans can enjoy the series live on GEO Super television channel.

49. Beside television channels, there are a number of radio channels who will be providing live commentary of the matches for their audience. ABC Local Radio channel will be providing commentary for the Australian cricket fans, while England fans can get the commentary through BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and BBC Radio 4 channels.

50. Ricky Ponting and Kevin Pietersen were the highest scorers for Australia and England respectively in the previous Ashes series. Stuart Clark was the highest wicket taker for Australia in the last Ashes with 26 wickets. Matthew Hoggard, who was the highest wicket taker for England with 13 wickets two years back, has not been included in the current England squad.

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