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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003