The English cricket team have racked up a well-deserved 2-0 series victory over the West Indies with a convincing win in chilly Chester-le-Street. James Anderson displayed excellent mastery of the swinging ball to blow away the West Indies’ lower order with a series of deliveries that will have the Australians hoping that he can’t repeat this sort of form. Bresnan chipped in with his first (but could they be his last also) test wickets, and Collingwood took his first catch as wicket-keeper, although I don’t think Prior will be too worried about his place.
It was a shame in this series that the West Indies weren’t entirely committed, and that the authorities thought it necessary to play the games so early in the season, and in the cold weather. That England won in preparation for the Ashes was vital, but they’d have preferred a stiffer test.
So who will turn out for England in the Ashes – assuming Flintoff is fit, here would be my selection, which is not too controversial:
The reason I include Monty is that the Australians are now without any world-class spinner, and if we have turning pitches, then England now have the spin armoury to really attack Australia with spin. Swann is surely now first choice spinner, and is an excellent batsmen to appear at 9 in the batting order. Broad’s seam and Anderson’s mastery of the swinging ball provide a perfect opening pair, with Flintoff the go-to bowler at any time of need. And if one of Panesar or Swann is stuggling, there is always Pietersen’s off-spinners for a change.
Prior should now naturally bat above Flintoff, since the latter’s batting is no-where near the force it once was, and Broad should look to become a competent no. 7 in the future – a test century should be his for the taking in the next couple of years. Swann is also capable of making a test century and England have the longest batting line up in a very long time.
We’ll see what happens in the coming 7 weeks!