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from Left field:

Battle-weary Australia need Lee fit and in form

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brettleeAustralia have far more limited options than England when they consider changes to their
battle-weary side for the fourth Ashes test
 starting on Friday at Headingley, with their main hope of fresh impetus resting on the fitness of Brett Lee.

England had the luxury of bringing in fresh blood on Tuesday, calling up fast bowler Ryan Sidebottom and uncapped batsman Jonathan Trott for the first time this series, while again putting Steve Harmison on standby in a 14-man squad.

Australia captain Ricky Ponting expects to be able to call on Lee for the first time this series, after the quick bowler missed the first three tests with a rib injury.

Seamer Stuart Clark could be another option, possibly at the expense of Peter Siddle but otherwise the skipper has little to juggle with ahead of a match they cannot afford to lose, with England already 1-0 up with two to play.

from Left field:

Can England afford to call on fragile Flintoff again?

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cricketIn the end it wasn't about the two S's, Swann and swing, it came down to the two P's, patience and perseverance, as Australia's batsmen swept away England hopes of a 2-0 Ashes series lead by holding on for a draw at Edgbaston. The challenge for Australia and their batting line-up now is to perform like that in the first innings of a test to put pressure on England, and not just in the second when they need to save a game.

This match didn't get the denouement it deserved after the thrilling cricket played on Friday and Sunday, but mother nature can hold up her hand and take the blame for that. Just one more day's play could have provided an intriguing finish, but it wasn't to be.

from Left field:

Flintoff again the talisman as England defeat Australia

Lord's rose to its feet to acclaim Andrew Flintoff after his five wickets helped England beat Australia by 115 runs to go 1-0 up in the Ashes series.

The home crowd was especially delighted given England had not beaten the old enemy at the home of cricket since 1934.

from Left field:

Ashes analysis: Any result is possible after more great cricket

It takes guts, skill, determination and more than anything patience to win a test match and that is why the longest form of cricket is still one of the greatest challenges that a sportsman can face.

And England will need all the patience that human nature can muster if they are to wear down and eventually beat this resolute Australian side, which managed to recover from 128 for five to close on 313 with the loss of no further wickets, chasing another 209 runs for victory.

from Left field:

Ashes day 4: England had no luck, and nor did they deserve it

CRICKET-ASHES/For a third day in row England's demoralised bowlers wheeled away with all the luck of someone who's just walked across the path a black cat and smashed a mirror while walking under a ladder.

In all honesty they didn't deserve any fortune after another day's abject bowling display and signs from Strauss early on that it was a damage limitation exercise by time wasting with field placings and underbowling key bowlers.

from Left field:

Ashes day one: advantage Australia?

CRICKET-ASHES/

What an extraordinary first day of Test match cricket, even by Ashes standards. A day that ebbed and flowed, that tormented and teased both sets of supporters and ultimately left us with the question: where does the balance of this match lie?

As Kev notes, lunch for England would have been the equivalent of trying to digest tarmac, a disconcerting affair to say the least. Having won the toss and electing to bat England were reduced to 92-3 by a persevering if unspectacular Australian attack, which left the Barmy Army cowering behind their beer snakes fearing the worst.

Should Pietersen have walked?

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England cricket is in deep disarray after the decision by captain Kevin Pietersen to resign as a result of his public spat with coach Peter Moores over the direction and training of the team.

Moores himself has been sacked and the race is on to restore morale ahead of a tour of the West Indies later this month and this Summer’s Ashes series.

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