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.

News
Alan Bennett has criticised the “repellent” reality shows which dominate our screens
tvBut he does like Stewart Lee
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
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

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits