Outside Edge: Spinners might hold the Ashes key, which should give Aussie triumphalists a few doubts

Diary of a cricket obsessive

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With all the reassuring comfort of a Geoff Boycott forward defensive, Australian greats have been lining up to make their usual perceptive predictions in advance of next month’s Ashes series.

“Five-nil to us”, hollers Glenn McGrath gleefully, his catchphrase thankfully intact. “England will struggle to win a Test”, tweets Shane Warne, having also forecast a 2-0 victory for New Zealand in the series just gone.

Ex-captain Ian Chappell reckons England can’t win if Alastair Cook is at the helm and suspects there will be a change of captain mid-series. And right at the other end of the scale, mild-mannered Adam Gilchrist boldly suggests Australia are favourites. Headline stuff.

Some Aussies, however, have offered genuine insights. Steve Waugh has pointed to the potential role of leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed, suggesting he could have a “very good” series. Meanwhile, another man to have worn the Baggy Green with distinction has pointed out that England are lacking in the spin department. This, says Ian Healy, will need to be exposed by Australia.

Healy and Waugh have hit on something here. For all the focus on the Johnson-Starc and Anderson-Broad spearheads, spin could be the key factor.

Moeen Ali still has much to prove for England, but Nathan Lyon’s record for Australia also remains modest, which is why Fawad could be given a chance at some point.

The possibility of the Aussies employing a twin-spin option seems unlikely on the face of it. Likewise, England seem less than keen on the idea, as their policy in the West Indies demonstrated. Nevertheless, as the summer wears on both sides may need to be flexible. And without an obvious shoo-in for England, there will be plenty of county spinners desperate to stake their claim in the meantime.

Brilliant Bishoo recalls the great days of leg-spin


There have been two great cricketing joys in the last week. The first was Leicestershire’s first win in the County Championship since September 2012, a triumph for persistence and guts at a club who have experienced more than their fair share of pain in recent times.

The second was the bowling of Devendra Bishoo for West Indies in their first Test against Australia. When Shane Warne and Mushtaq Ahmed were in their pomp it was easy to forget how difficult leg-spin bowling actually is. Bishoo is no Warne, but on Thursday he bowled superbly.

There were bad balls, to be sure, but his six wickets were gained by brilliant bowling, not duff batting, and his leg-break to bowl Brad Haddin was simply perfection. Adil Rashid may have been watching with interest.

Home truth about the best and the worst of Brighton


This month’s Cricketer magazine includes an interview with Mike Yardy about his home town, Brighton. What, he is asked, is the “best feature of the BrightonandHoveJobs.com County Ground”?

Yardy plumped for its family-friendly atmosphere. If you’re wondering what its worst feature might be, the clue’s in the name.

Twitter: @willjgore