The phrase With every respect… is one of those that often crops up in those social media lists of What English people say; and what they really mean! As in: With no respect whatsoever…
But it really is with every respect that we have to disagree with Charles Dagnall here:
As Martin Woodward quickly pointed out in reply, a draw would leave England needing to win the T20 series 2-1 – something which they only just managed against New Zealand last winter; and which seems a very tall order against the World Champion Australians.
The truth is that the Test is Do Or Die for England – if they win it they will have the momentum, and the prospect of nicking a result in one of the three T20s to retain The Ashes becomes realistic. And let’s be in no doubt, it would be “nicking”: T20 is the Australians strongest format, thanks mostly to the power of their batting, and a 3-0 victory for the Southern Stars is more-than plausible.
So winning the Test has to be England’s aim and (last years crumbling defeat to India notwithstanding) they have some reasons to be hopeful. Winning a Test isn’t about crashing your way to 250 at a Strike Rate of 100 – it’s about taking 20 wickets, and it is England that have the sturdier bowling attack.
Not only are they stronger, England’s bowlers have more red-ball experience than the Australians. All domestic cricket in England was red-ball until this season (Australia’s top-tier domestic competitions have long been all-white-ball) and England have the only bowler in either side who has played a significant amount of competitive red-ball cricket this season – Kate Cross, who has been playing men’s league cricket with some success.
But there is also one key thing standing in England’s way: the pitch! There have been 3 (men’s) county champs games played at the Spitfire Ground this season, two of which were high-scoring draws; plus a tour match where Australia Men made over 500 in their first innings. It goes without saying that if England are going to get a result, they need a bowler-friendly “result” pitch! (So please… someone forward this article to the groundsman at Canterbury!)
* Of course if England lose the Test, they could technically still retain The Ball** by winning all three T20s; but honestly… see above – Charlotte Edwards is more likely to walk on the moon!
** As everyone on this site knows, the Women’s Ashes trophy is not an Urn!