Australia and Pakistan in case you were wondering. What a terrible collapse today against a Sri Lankan team without Murali. This match reminded me a lot of England v Pakistan in Multan. As you may remember, that was England’s first match since the Ashes. They played terrific cricket for the first 4 days and only needed less than 200 to win in the final innings. Admittedly, Shoaib bowled a great spell, but Mohammad Sami played a crucial role in Pakistan’s victory which is never a good sign for the opposition.

Anyways, I guess at least Yousaf is back and Mohd Aamer suggested he can perform in test cricket as well. Also I’ve been on the Abdur Rauf bandwagon since I saw him bowl during the domestic pentangular tournament in the winter (thought he was a better prospect than Sohail Khan), so I’m glad that he’s finally in the team and doing well.  There’s enough there to suggest we can be competitive against Australia this winter and next summer.

Speaking of Australia – they are back. The English media has not only forgotten about the Ashes whitewash in 2007/08, but that Australian just beat South Africa in South Africa as well. Brett Lee is out – big deal. I know he still bowls over 90 mph, swings the new ball and can get wicked reverse swing, but his test match average is only 30; his average against England is 40; his average in England is 45. And this was when he before he crossed 30. Don’t get me wrong – one of the greatest one day bowlers of all time and a lethal 3rd or 4th weapon behind Warne and McGrath – but not good enough to carry an attack.

Then there’s the context of how the Aussie attack functioned in South Africa. 4 bowlers slowly throttling the opposition – repeatedly hitting the splice and making the batsmen play; combined with terrific fielding that’s deadly. Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus and Stuart Clark will make the English batsmen toil and it won’t be easy. This strategy worked with McDonald as the 4th seamer so I’m not sure why it wouldn’t with Clark who is better.

I think England can still win because Australia’s batting is slightly vulnerable and Anderson, Flintoff, Broad, Swann and Panesar is an imposing attack. Anderson can play the Simon Jones role to some extent, but I’m slightly concerned that Flintoff and Broad are too similar. Swann has been great, but I’m not sure anyone knows how well Panesar will bowl.

I don’t buy all the Ashes hype but I’m excited. Let’s hope it doesn’t rain!