Ashes 2013-14: Despite Australia's bravado, England should win a fourth consecutive Ashes

Alastair Cook's men have the experience

brisbane

England set out to create history on Thursday. Never in modern times have they won the Ashes on four consecutive occasions, never will they have a more glowing opportunity of doing so.

Lord Salisbury was Prime Minister in 1890 when England won for the eighth successive time, led by W G Grace. Alastair Cook, the 40th captain of England in Australia, may care briefly to dwell on one of the Marquess's epigrammatic sayings. "A gram of experience," said his lordship, "is worth a ton of theory."

Forget all the theory, the bluster and baloney of the past three weeks, it is experience in and of Australia that makes England the favourites to win this series. If they can somehow breach Fortress Gabba in the first Test, then anything becomes possible.

That may be the trickiest trick of all to perform. Australia have not lost at the ground for 25 years, and while that cannot be sustained for ever and this team have failed to win any of their last nine Tests, it is not a record they will surrender lightly.

It promises to be feisty at best and ugly at worst. There was little love lost between these teams last summer and Australia could barely disguise their annoyance at England's preparation of pitches, their luck with the Decision Review System and their hard-nosed cricket.

David Warner, one of the most robust of the Australians, could not resist having a dig yesterday at Stuart Broad, who can expect flak from here to Sydney in January – at the suggestion of Australia's coach, Darren Lehmann, after Broad refused to walk at Trent Bridge following a thick edge.

Warner has himself been known to have an exchange of views but he said the fast bowler had got into a "sook". There seemed no evidence for this – a sook being a whinge – but it was all part of the last rites in the phoney war.

There is an assurance about the home squad which belies their woeful recent results and they are clearly trying to engender the feeling that they are about to turn the corner.

Dress it up how they like, however, they lost 3-0 in England only a few weeks ago and Cook's team won almost all the big moments. Sometimes they became big moments only after they had been won but that is another virtue of victors.

Of the team that England would prefer to field here, nine played some part in the overwhelmingly successful campaign here three years ago. The newcomers are Joe Root and Michael Carberry, whose roles could not have been foretold even a fortnight ago.

There remains a doubt about Matt Prior. He fulfilled the four tasks set for him by the medical team in training yesterday but England will take no risks with his torn calf muscle. On the other hand, they will also give him every possible chance to play, rather than select Jonny Bairstow for his debut as a Test wicketkeeper.

Carberry seized the day when England had to field him in Perth at the start of the tour with Cook's back forcing him to withdraw. His success persuaded the management that Root, promoted to open for last summer's Ashes, could move down the order again.

Cook said: "Who knows what would have happened if my back was right at Perth, who knows? Strange things happen, but he's grabbed the opportunity with both hands and he's looked the part at the top of the order, just with the calmness with which he goes about his business."

Still, it is an option that England did not assume they would have to take. The unplanned nature of the arrangement may give Australia cause to think that England's meticulous plotting is not so careful after all.

But look elsewhere. Six of the top seven have made significant Ashes hundreds. They know what they have done and how they did it. England's vulnerabilities are fewer than Australia's.

Perhaps it is from Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell, the middle-order engine room, that England can expect the bulk of their runs. Pietersen sounded yesterday like a man who wanted to go places; Bell has been quietly honing his game and is at the top of it.

A stroke that Bell played the other day in the final warm-up match in Sydney embodied his high style. The rain was imminent, the tourists needed runs urgently to win so Bell struck a six on the up over long-off. It was the stroke of a master.

Australia's order is less accomplished, partly because it is so less experienced. They will take succour both from their bowling attack and from the fact that England have had as much trouble with identifying their third seamer as their No 6 batsman. But Chris Tremlett can take heart from his wonderful contribution here three years ago.

England mucked it up in 1958-59 and in 1982-83 when they had four straight Ashes victories in their sights. There is some scope for that again this time but it ought to have faded by next Monday.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention