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Where the Ashes will be won and lost

With the furore over Cardiff being awarded the first Ashes cricket test still bubbling, here’s a run down on each venue for England v Australia and how the results might pan out.

Cardiff: Starts Wednesday, July 8th
A controversial choice for the first test, given that Trent Bridge and Old Trafford were overlooked entirely, but we’ve been told to expect the wicket to turn sideways. Don’t be surprised to see: England field two spinners, Shane Warne drooling over the pitch … from inside the commentary box, Ricky Ponting cursing the fact his only spin front-line option is Nathan Hauritz and rain.

Result: Draw – it can’t rain all the time. It can in Cardiff.

Lord’s, London: Thursday, July 16th
The home of cricket has been as a dry as a desert and as flat as a pancake in recent years and England haven’t beaten Australia at Lord’s since 1934. Expect a seam bowler, most likely Graham Onions, to replace Monty in England’s attack, but the Aussies will arrive without fear given their history on this ground.

Result: Australia win – history is on their side.

Edgbaston, Birmingham: Thursday, July 30th
In 2005, Edgbaston was a scene of carnage for Ponting’s crew as spectators witnessed one of the greatest test matches of all time. For Australia, Glenn McGrath was crocked in the warm-up, the captain then won the toss and mystifyingly chose to bowl, promptly conceding over 400 runs in under 80 overs, and lost the test that swung the series in England’s favour by 2 runs. Moral: Win the toss and bat then take advantage of the deteriorating pitch.

To spin or not to spin? Australia’s crucial Ashes question

hauritzAustralia captain Ricky Ponting will be praying that the rumours of a sideways turning Cardiff wicket prove to be complete fallacy when the Ashes series begins on Wednesday.

Ponting’s team have been bereft of a front-line spinner since the retirement of the mercurial Shane Warne in 2007 and Stuart McGill shortly after.

Australia are the Ashes favourites but losing Lee is a blow

flintoffEngland’s cricketers face a monumental task if they are to regain the Ashes they surrendered so meekly in 2006/07. Forget 2005 for a moment and take a longer-term view. Since the turn of the 20th Century, England have managed just 17 victories in Ashes series, compared to Australia’s 30, as they have regularly been confounded technically and mentally.

A 2-0 series win over the West Indies at the start of the summer buoyed England’s confidence but looks can be deceiving. The fact is, England have failed to beat a leading Test playing nation home or away since Pakistan in 2006.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Can Owen revive career at Manchester United?

On the face of it, replacing world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo with an injury-prone forward whose side just got relegated does not seem like a great bit of business.

The British media is certain that Michael Owen, a free agent after leaving Newcastle United, is on the verge of joining Manchester United if he passes a stringent medical.

Graceful Vaughan lays down bat for a new generation

Former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan has confirmed the recent rumours and announced his immediate retirement from all cricket.

The move follows the 34-year-old’s failure to be called up for a training squad ahead of the home Ashes series with Australia.

Feeble England still can’t get to grips with Twenty20

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England may argue that they were unlucky to exit the World Twenty20 following a five-wicket defeat by West Indies but the simple truth is that they batted poorly throughout the tournament.

With the honourable exceptions of Ravi Bopara and Kevin Pietersen, the batsmen completely failed to get to grips with the art of scoring runs in this form of the game.

India caught short by England in Twenty20 World Cup

India's Yusuf Pathan gets ready for the final over of the match against England in the ICC World Twenty20 cricket super eight match in London

In the end, few would have missed the irony. England, their feeble limited overs credentials torn apart after their opening defeat against Netherlands, knocking out holders India from the World Twenty20 with a brilliant execution of strategy.

India were pipped by three runs as England handed them their second defeat in the Super Eights on Sunday, eliminating them from the race for a semi-final berth.

England humiliated in Twenty20 opener

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Extraordinary scenes in the first match of the World Twenty20, where England have lost the opening match by four wickets against the Dutch.

England went out of their last home one-day World Cup in the group phase … could the same thing happen here?

Australia look good but Symonds omission could weigh

In an earlier post, Julian Linden argued that Australia’s cricketers have all the firepower needed to retain the Ashes in England despite some relatively new faces in the squad.

Here Ed Osmond takes a different view, wondering if the absence of Andrew Symonds and Australia’s lack of spin options may help the English.

England cannot underestimate Australia’s new mix

The selection of Australia’s Ashes squad has compounded England’s worst fears. This is a team more than capable of successfully defending the little urn.

There may be no Shane Warne, Adam Gilchirst or Glenn McGrath in the lineup but what the squad lacks in star quality it makes up for in depth.

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