Jos Buttler Vs Brad Haddin
Buttler is currently one of the golden boys of English cricket; a rare attacking talent who is in tune with the demands of modern cricket. That is, at least, as a batsman. He is far from being the finished article as a wicket keeper, and we asked recently if he has been overhyped. His ODI performances, whilst glittering, have yielded two centuries and he is yet to register three figures in Test cricket. A little perspective would not go amiss – he undoubtedly has the potential, but he is not there just yet.
This will be a pivotal series for Buttler. There is nowhere to hide in an Ashes series. He is, however, a steely character and you wouldn’t expect him to be fazed by the challenge. His glovework and batting will be given their sternest examination yet, though.
Haddin, at 37, is the old boy of the series. He had his international career resuscitated at the expense of Matthew Wade after Mickey Arthur’s ill feted reign. His is also the antithesis of Buttler, the softly spoken, mild mannered country boy. Haddin is in your face the whole time, his aggressive personality inspiring the resurgence in Australian cricket, albeit at the expense of basic decency.
The Cricket Blog’s verdict: We’d go for Haddin. You know what you’re getting with him; experience, good glovework and a handy lower order batsman who has rescued his side from several perilous situations. Buttler would do well to emulate his performances, if not his personality.
Moeen Ali/Adil Rashid Vs Nathan Lyon
The spinner’s spot is the only question mark hanging over this England side. Ali had a good breakthrough summer last year, but he has begun to falter a little. Whilst he is more than just a part timer, he is not really a front liner of international quality. Australia will doubtless seek to get on top of him early and give Alastair Cook a real problem. Those moments may go so far as to define his Test career; respond well and take wickets and the spot is his for the rest of year at least, but retreat into his shell and get whacked and Rashid is ready and waiting.
Rashid is unlikely to feature unless Ali slips up, which cannot be ruled out. I would also expect to see Joe Root fill in a few overs throughout the series.
Lyon has provided some consistency to Australia’s Test spinner selection that was sorely lacking post-Shane Warne, but for a brief tenure by Nathan Hauritz. He has a very aesthetically pleasing, classical off spinning action. He now has 41 Tests under his belt and 146 wickets. If England are to stay true to their newfound attacking mantra, they will surely target Lyon, though. It is a scenario that he will relish.
TCB’s verdict: You’d just have to go for Lyon. He’s a better bowler than Ali or Rashid, although the batting depth that Ali or Rashid, at eight, will bring to England cannot be ignored.
Next time we round off our series with a look at the quicks.
By Miles Reucroft