Former England captain Michael Atherton feels that the England squad that was announced for the Ashes series is definitely the strongest that has toured Australia. However, despite missing a few of their regular players, England can pack a punch, and Australia cannot be complacent as a result, said Atherton.
On Sunday, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced a squad that is missing paceman, Jofra Archer, and all-rounders, Ben Stokes and Sam Curran. The latter sustained a lower back injury while playing in the IPL 2021, whereas Stokes has taken an indefinite break from cricket due to mental fatigue.
“It’s not the strongest squad England have taken to Australia – nor is it the weakest. Australia might be so described as well, strong as they are in bowling but less so in batting.”
“Any doubts over England’s prospects are tempered to some extent by doubts in Australia’s camp, where much rests on the form of Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne, and the fitness of the main three fast bowlers: Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc,” Atherton wrote in his column for The Times.
“Beyond the main bowlers of Australia, the threat recedes” – Michael Atherton
Atherton was unsure about the match fitness of the Australian squad heading into the Ashes series. They haven’t played a Test match since losing to a second-string India in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy earlier this year. This might have a bearing on their performance.
“Quite what degree of readiness Australia’s players will be in is anyone’s guess, because they have played no test cricket since being beaten at home by a second-string India team nine months ago.”
“There have been rumblings about the coach, Justin Langer, since then, and David Warner’s place will come under scrutiny if he starts badly. Beyond the main bowlers, the threat recedes,” Atherton further added.
The Ashes 2021-22 begins on December 8 at The Gabba, followed by the second Test in Adelaide.