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Ashes 2014: England Preparing Down Under

The Ashes 2014series is arriving a lot earlier than normal thanks to a change in the schedule brought about to stop England and Australia going into the ICC World Cup 2015 fresher than ever before. Under the old schedule the Ashes ended as the World Cup began leaving both sides physically exhausted and emotionally drained before a ball was bowl in the limited overs competition.

England enter the competition this week as favourites to retain the famous urn for a fourth time. Many observers, including Sir Ian Botham, are going as far as to predict a five-nil white wash in the series. With their 3-nil victory in the summer still fresh in the minds of England’s players there’s no reason why Alistair Cook’s men won’t prevail down under. Australia only have 2 wins in the last 15 Ashes tests so confidence will be low.

England may have two of the world’s most prolific run makers in Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott but neither made many runs during the summer series. England openers Alastair Cook and Joe Root only scored one half century in 10 attempts during the summer, so not many observers questioned the selectors decision to move Root to number 6 in the line-up. Michael Carberry has taken over the opener’s role after a pair of 50s and a fine century knock in the warm-up matches.

Australia seem to be pinning their hopes on Michael Clarke. The Aussie captain is statistically the host nation’s top player with a fine record against England, but he still had a weakness against the short ball and can’t duck because of a back injury. He’ll struggle against taller bowlers, which England have plenty of. Others to look out for include Steve Smith, whose technique left him open to the moving ball during the summer and Brad Haddin, who’s not as skilled with gloves and bat as Matt Prior.

Everyone hopes that this year’s series will bring England back to back Ashes success and there’s nothing to suggest that England won’t be returning with the old urn.

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