The Ashes 2013: Australia's likely starting XI for 1st Test

Michael Clarke, the Australian captain, who was recovering from injury, has scored 257 runs on tour at an average of 64.25, including one century © Getty Images

By Adrian Meredith

The Ashes begins in just under a week at Trent Bridge, and the Australian cricket team has had a far superior build up to this Ashes series than to the last one. While in 2009/10 they played in India, they had an ODI and T20 series against Sri Lanka all the while England were being acclimatised, this time they relaxed in England in the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 while their “A” side played First-Class matches, and, after an early exit, they have had extra time to prepare. And they have done well. They have also changed their coach, a hugely positive move as Australia move back to an Australian born coach in Darren Lehmann (Mickey Arthur is the first and so far only non-Australian to coach Australia), especially positive because of the homework scandal.
It is a bit premature to say that Australia will win the Ashes but there are certainly some good signs. England are still huge favourites, but they haven’t exactly had an ideal preparation, as they keep on losing to lowly New Zealand, and are struggling to get adequate warm-up matches.
This might be closer than we think!
So as for form in the warm up matches, let’s look at each of the contenders:
Chris Rogers, the guaranteed opener, has scored 101 runs in his only warm-up match, against Worcestershire, scoring 75 and 26, for an average of 50.50.

Shane Watson, the other guaranteed opener, has scored 109 and 90 for 199 runs at an average of 99.50 at a strike rate of 97.07. He is the highest scorer on the tour.

Phillip Hughes, potentially the No 3, has scored 231 runs at an average of 115.50, though that includes two not outs. He has the highest average in the full Australian tour.
Ed Cowan, Hughes’ main rival for the No 3 spot, has scored 141 runs at 35.25 on tour, with just one score of 50 or above, a score of 58.
David Warner, also a chance to play at No 3, hasn’t played a tour match due to suspension.

Michael Clarke, the Australian captain, who was recovering from injury, and is likely to slot in at No 4, has scored 257 runs on tour at an average of 64.25, including one century.
Steven Smith, likely to slot in at No 5, has scored 111 runs for one dismissal, after 68 not out and 43 against Worcestershire.

Usman Khawaja, an outside chance to take the No 6 slot, has scored 100 runs at 50.00, with 73 and 27.
Brad Haddin, the likely wicketkeeper who will bat at either No 6 or 7, has scored 90 runs at an average of 90.00, with 52 not out and 38. He has also taken five dismissals in the four innings he has kept.

James Faulkner, the all-rounder, who is likely to bat at either No 6 or more likely at No 7, has scored 34 runs without being dismissed and taken six wickets at an average of 27.00.

James Pattinson, the likely main bowler and No 8, is yet to bat and has taken seven wickets at an average of 16.71.

Mitchell Starc, the likely No 9 and left-armed fast bowler, has taken six wickets at an average of 12.33.

Ryan Harris, the likely senior bowler and No 10 bat, has taken three wickets at an average of 35.66.

Peter Siddle, the main alternative to Harris, has taken one wicket at an average of 117.00.

Nathan Lyon, the likely spinner and No 11 batsman, has taken four wickets at an average of 37.00.

Jackson Bird, still an outside chance if Australia go with all pace, has taken four wickets at an average of 19.75.
Likely Australian XI for first Test:
Chris Rogers (avg 50.00)
Shane Watson (avg 99.50)
Phillip Hughes (avg 115.50)
Michael Clarke (avg 64.25)
Steve Smith (avg 111.00)
Brad Haddin (wk) (avg 90.00)/(1.25 dismissals/innings)
James Faulkner (avg 34*)/(bowl avg 27.00)
James Pattinson (bowl avg 16.71)
Mitchell Starc (bowl avg 12.33)
Ryan Harris (bowl avg 35.66)
Nathan Lyon (bowl avg 37.00)
12th man: Jackson Bird (bowl avg 19.75)
If these statistics are all that they are going on, then Bird should play ahead of both Harris and Siddle, but I don’t think that they will go that way, if for no reason than the seniority aspect.
But these stats make good reading for Australians, albeit from warm-up matches, and if they can bring even half of that to the Test matches then Australia are going to go very, very well.
Australia may yet lose 5-0 but you can’t say that they have had a bad lead up to the Ashes.

(Adrian Meredith, an Australian from Melbourne, has been very passionate about cricket since he was seven years old. Because of physical challenges he could not pursue playing the game he so dearly loved. He loves all kinds of cricket – from Tests, ODIs, T20 – at all levels and in all countries and writes extensively on the game)