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Ashes Player Contribution

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England:

Quite expectedly, the enigmatic Kevin Pietersen has the highest potential to thwart Australian bowling. Recently, the injuries kept him away from the game. However, on his comeback trail, KP has smashed runs in his typical style. There are two other aspects that further justify his 19% batting contribution potential – (1) as Naseer Hussain said, “on big stage, you need big egos.” and KP’s love for the either is well-known (2) and his Ashes record both home and away thus far, has been impressive.

Along with KP, Cook, Trott and Bell could damage Australia’s dream to reclaim the Ashes. All three have the batting contribution potential of 14%. Since the last Ashes, Cook and Trott are the top 2 leading run getters for England. While Cook has scored runs with class and grace, Trott has been dogged (and expressionless) in his approach to score runs. Bell too has done a fine job with the bat. But unlike these two has had issues with consistency. But Cook and Co. can back this elegant right-hander for Ashes 2013.

Ashes_England_Contribution Potential

But if England needs someone to score quickly and take them out of trouble, they can bank on Matt Prior. He has evolved as a batsman (and as a wicket-keeper) and his 1532 Test runs coming at number 6 or 7 prove that point. Along with all these stalwarts, England have Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow to their service. And either has added youthful charm to England batting. So far, Root has not done anything wrong to prove his supporters wrong. Anyone who has known him, are in awe of this youngster’s talent and confidence. So, England’s team management to entrust him the opener’s duties come as a no surprise. On the other hand, Baistow although stumbled a bit early, has shown the hunger to score runs. Hence, his inclusion in the final XI should not surprise anyone.

Just like their batting, England’s bowling too has a settled outlook to itself. While Swann has struggled with injuries, he is certain to play in the first Test of Ashes 2013. Since Ashes 2011, Swann has picked 94 wickets. Considering his love for left-handers and his ability backed by effective performances, with 18% he has the highest contribution potential with the ball in hand. There might be an instance in Ashes 2013 where England may want to add fourth seamer to their attack. But that is unlikely to cost Swann his place in the playing XI.

Talking about pace bowling, Stuart Broad has the most number of wickets (96) since England’s last Ashes triumph. Hence, his contribution potential of 16% should not be too surprising. Considering, England is traditionally more swing friendly, James Anderson with his skills, form and 300 plus wickets remain the most talked about bowler. With the new ball or old, he can be devastating. And we could not help but predict that he has 17% contribution potential with the ball in hand. Graham Onions, Tim Bresnan and Steve Finn would fight for the slot a third quick bowler. And England may do some chopping and changing with that slot. For the records, Finn and Onions have 17% bowling contribution potential. On the other hand, Bresnan has 15% on the same parameter. But his ability to reverse swing and add runs with the bat may see him piping the other two over the above mentioned slot. 

Australia:

While England’s road to Ashes 2013 was more or less peaceful, Australia’s was the most dramatic with the coach getting sacked, a player getting nasty to his English counterpart and a horrible campaign at an ICC event in England. But the things seem to have improved with Watson being slated to open the inning with the bat, Warner being kept in the scheme of things and captain Clarke’s back doing fine for now.

Statistically or otherwise, Australia’s batting is heavily dependent on Michael Clarke. The captaincy has not deteriorated his batting form. In fact, it has made him even more prolific run scorer. Since Ashes 2011, Clarke has scored 2533 runs with 9 centuries. It is safe to say that he is one of the best Test batsmen in the last few years. Hence, 16% batting contribution potential is well-justified.

Ashes_Australia_Contribution Potential

Under-fire for various reasons, Warner is the most destructive batsman of this Australian team. This will be Warner’s first Ashes. So, he comes with no baggage of the Ashes losses. And as he is given a chance to start afresh, Warner can play a role to help Australia reclaim the urn. His form in the last 3 years has been on and off. But during that period, he has 1263 runs against his name. Australian team management would hope that Warner justifies his inclusion.

The other W of Australia, Watson’s batting contribution potential is 10%. He was about to quit cricket following the homeworkgate. But Lehman has backed Watson to open the innings, a role where Watson tasted success in the past. His century in the tour game and a new-found trust should be a welcome sign for Australia. In all likelihood, Chris Rogers would partner him. Rogers had a very brief run with the Australian team. But his good run in county cricket and Australia’s need to add experience to their inexperienced batting line up helped him and Haddin earn a recall. While Rogers’ batting contribution potential comes to 4%, Haddin’s with his experience playing cricket at the highest level comes to 11%. Haddin’s inclusion may give Australia an option to field in Mathew Wade as a non-wicket-keeper batsman. Wade who has done a reasonable job with the bat and hence, it is justifiable to say that his batting contribution potential would be 10%.

Australia may be short-supplied when it comes to batting strength. But their pace bowling is on par with England. Siddle is the leader of this Australian squad with 9% contribution potential. Since Ashes 2011, Siddle has scalped 76 wickets in 19 Tests. He may not have the pace Pattinson has, but Siddle knows how to dig deep in trying times and most unfriendly bowling conditions.

Pattinson and Starc would be Siddle’s bowling partners. While both of them have shown the promise, this will be their first Ashes outing. The inexperience may be a bane, but swinging conditions in England will help these two to keep the inexperience harming them a great deal. Pattinson, if he manages not to break-down has pace and stares to intimidate England batsmen. Starc too has shown the promise to become one of the better Australian left-arm pace bowlers. While Pattinson with a slightly better record has a better contribution potential of 12%, Starc has 8% of it.

In spin department though, England has a better hand. Australia have the options of Agar and Nathan Lyon. While Lyon does not possess too many tricks, his earnestness has won his team-mates over. His bowling contribution potential is 8%. But he is no Ajmal to trouble English batsmen. So, Australia may give Agar his debut Test and more.

Stats by: Karna Yajnik



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