Australian captain Michael Clarke may have vowed that his side will fight back strongly in the Ashes and that they can still comeback to win the prestigious series. But, it is a statement easier said than implemented. No matter how hard they try, the fact of the matter is that this is among the weakest Australian team to ever feature in the Ashes. Thus even if they put their best foot forward, it may not be enough for them to overcome the much superior Englishmen. This Aussie side looks very much like the England teams led by Alec Stewart and Mike Atherton, who just did not know how to win.
There are a few star players in the present Australian squad as well, but they haven’t performed anywhere near to potential. Shane Watson and skipper Clarke himself are clear case in points. Even if they raise their game in the upcoming Tests, it may not be enough for the visitors to undo the damage inflicted on them. One or two players cannot make up for the lack of talent among the other members of the squad. It is no secret that this Aussie outfit has a number of raw as well as not so talented players, which is one of the reasons why their prospects of winning the Ashes were always bleak.
Of course, Australia can still find some new heroes through the series if some of the lesser known players stand up and make a significant impact. Chris Rogers has experience of England conditions and he can do much better than he has done so far in the four innings. He can still prove that the decision to recall him at such a late stage in his career was the right one. Ed Cowan and Usman Khawaja have batted at number three in the two Tests. Khawaja has looked the better of the two, but must convert his starts into significant scores.
Better application is also expected of the middle and lower order. Australia have always prided themselves on batting till the very end. At various stages during the series, Brad Haddin, Steven Smith and Phillip Hughes have made good contributions, but as a combination the lower order will have to much better. Ashton Agar made a sensational debut with the bat in the first Test. Australia would only hope that he can be consistent with the bat over a period of time.
The already struggling Australia have been dealt a big blow with James Pattinson having been ruled out of the series. Anyways, their bowling has looked insipid with only Peter Siddle coming up with quality performances and Mitchell Starc doing well in phases. It would be unfair to expect Agar to make a significant mark so early in his international career since he is extremely raw even at the first class level. Looking at things from every possible angle, it is difficult to see Australia winning this Ashes, unless something miraculous happens for them.
--By A Cricket Analyst