Matthew Hayden's Ashes Summer: England beware: the momentum in this series has started to swing again

From the man at the heart of Australia's most successful side ever

Australia will win the Test match in Leeds and go on to win the Ashes. There will be plenty of Englishmen who disagree with that and I can hear the guffawing as I write, but it will come to pass.

This series and the game at Headingley is as tight as a Yorkshireman's wallet is reputed to be, and mine too if you listen to Ricky Ponting, but provided we have five days it is the tourists I believe who will come out on top. This is not blind patriotism, this is based on the scoreboard pressure that I am sure they will apply.

We need look no further back than Birmingham and how that match ended. Frivolous though it might be, it is still fascinating to look at the position of the game when it drew to a close. Australia were 262 runs ahead with five wickets in hand and England would have had to bat fourth. What sort of target could they have chased? Not that many.

Now I understand that so much time had been taken out of the game that the only team who could win was England and that all Australia could do was bat for a draw. But how well they did that.

This series is so close in terms of sessions, as I have written here before, but the indications are that Australia, because of their efforts towards the end at Edgbaston, still have the edge. Do not forget that in the shortened game the margins for error were heightened for both sides.

The truth is that the Aussies got out pretty easily with a draw. And the Anderson-Panesar effect may now come into play. Look what happened to England after they managed to deny Australia in Cardiff and now it is Australia who will gather momentum and confidence.

They know how well they can bat. Michael Hussey, under pressure both himself and in a team contest, batted beautifully and showed what a champion he is. There has been a consolidation of the top order and Michael Clarke, well, he's Michael Clarke.

It will be interesting to see the state of the pitch and nobody should be fooled by Headingley's reputation for producing green tops. Spin will play its part on a good pitch.

And what of the team that Australia should field to achieve their dream? Unchanged in every case but one. If Brad Haddin has recovered from the broken finger he suffered after the toss in Birmingham then he should come back.

But that apart, Australia can and should rely on the team that has taken them this far. Brett Lee bowled in the nets in Birmingham and has bowled a lot since, but I am not sure that it is worth the risk even with a great bowler like Brett at this stage.

England have their own team worries with all the attention on the fitness of Andrew Flintoff. He will be given every chance to prove his fitness and that is right. It is perfectly simple for me: no Flintoff, no Ashes.

Humble, passionate and a true leader

What a leader Ricky Ponting is – and now that is true in every sense. He is leader of his nation's cricket team and now he is leader of their all-time Test runs scorers.

It is a position he fully deserves. Ricky is a bloke who wears his heart on his sleeve, who has an incredibly humble personality. You never see him giving it the big one on the field and he is a cricketer who loves the fight and goes about it with determination.

To compare him with other batsmen is not something I'm in the business of doing. He is simply Ricky Ponting and he has made the very best of that. He has faced all kinds of bowlers in all kinds of conditions and he has been challenged and he has met those challenges. He is as good as Ricky Ponting is, that's all and he has all those runs to show for it.

I hope that he goes on, I think he will. It is bound to happen that people will ask questions about him going – that's life – but I hope he will stay awhile yet. I tell you what, if you had to pick blokes to go into battle with, Ricky Ponting would be in my top three.

Watson can leave Hughes in the cold

Shane Watson may have forged out a whole new career himself as an Australia opening batsman. He came in at Edgbaston, a surprise selection for sure, and immediately looked the part. He was solid, he looked assured, he played big shots down the ground. It is a position that has been waiting for him, always in the pipeline.

When he could not bowl because of injury he had to play as a batsman only or not play at all. It meant that the all-rounder could concentrate completely on his batting and you could see the fruits of doing that in the third Test.

It is his position now. He has been given a second chance as a Test cricketer and he has taken it. Maybe it has happened because of injury (to him) and loss of form (to Phillip Hughes), but he has it in him to stay put.

G'day, Alice – the unique call of TMS

How wonderful it has been to be at the other side of the fence – in the commentary box. It has been instructive, informative and extremely pleasant. First there are the insightful comments from great ex-players such as Richie Benaud and Geoffrey Boycott, who bring a matchless sense of history and knowledge, and make you see again why Test cricket is so worth preserving.

Then there is awareness that your words and your assessments are being listened to thousands of miles away. The BBC Test Match Special team got an email during the Birmingham Test from Alice Springs in the middle of Australia, where they must have been listening under the stars. It has all had a powerful effect on me.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
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

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform