It has been pretty bleak winter for Australian cricket, with the national side first losing a Test series in India then the players being involved in a bitter pay dispute with their own board, but there is some light at the end of the tunnel.
Losing against India, in India, is not a disgrace as the Asian side are currently ranked the number one Test side in the world and they are a formidable unit, especially at home.
What followed that tour however was one of the most acrimonious episodes in the history of the sport in the country, with the players refusing to budge on new contracts that were offered.
An Australia A tour to South Africa was cancelled, robbing players of much needed exposure on the field while national team tours were thrown in doubt.
However, thankfully, after all the debating and arguments, an agreement was sorted and the players could get on with the job they know how to do best, on the field.
They then departed for Bangladesh for a two-match Test series, again in subcontinent conditions where they have come unstuck on many occasions in recent years.
It did not start well, the hosts winning the first Test by 20 runs to celebrated their first ever victory over Australia in the longest format of the game.
After the pay dispute preceeding the tour, questions started to be asked about the players being overpaid, team selection was scrutinised and of course why Australia’s batsmen just cannot seem to get to grips with playing spin bowlers.
So what about England and the Ashes?
England make their way Down Under later this year, and if you think criticism of the Aussies was harsh before, wait until they lose a game, or the series, against the old enemy in the Ashes.
Everyone is worried: fans, ex-players, and pundits. How will Australia fare in the oldest Test series that gave us Bodyline and countless heroic acts? The fact that England thrashed South Africa at home earlier this year just makes the situation seem all the more bleak.
It’s not all doom and gloom however, the Aussies will still be considered favourites to turn the English over on home soil, if they can keep all of their players fit, due to England’s perceived lack of consistency in recent times.
The Aussies have the pace
A pace bowling trio of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and James Pattinson should make good use of the fast bouncy surfaces back home and you can be sure they won’t setting their pitches up to aid spin bowling.
Usman Khawaja loves scoring runs in Australia and should return to the side at number three while skipper Steve Smith and Warner are amongst the best in the world at what they do.
Added to that, England have their own problems. Captain Joe Root and veteran opener Alastair Cook are the only ones who can be relied upon to score runs and their first XI still has plenty of spots in the batting order up for grabs.
So yes, Australia might not be the best at playing spinners on slow pitches but they should still be to strong for England in their home comforts.
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