NEWS

Ashes will be like a war, says Aussie star Warner

October 17, 2017

The upcoming Ashes series will be like "war", according to Australian vice-captain David Warner.

Speaking as the start of England's tour down under nears, the hard-hitting opening batsman began the traditional verbal battle by telling radio station ABC Grandstand: "As soon as you step on that line it's war." He promised plenty of hostility towards the England players on the field, adding: "I try and look in the opposition's eyes and try and work out 'how can I dislike this player, how can I get on top of him?"

Such sentiments will, of course, be meat and drink to experienced tourists, who know full well that the lead-up to the series will contain plenty of hype, banter and the inevitable predictions of a 5-0 win for the home side. 

Former Aussie fast bowling star Glenn McGrath is usually the man to make such a prediction, but this time radio commentator Jim Maxwell was first, telling the BBC this result would come about because England are sending their "worst ever batting line-up" to Australia. 

However, the last series down under did indeed end 5-0 to Australia, as it did in 2006-07. In between, though, England secured their first Ashes series win away since 1986-87 with a 3-1 win in which all the victories were by an innings. 

The last three Ashes series down under were the prelude to a summer in which India came to England, and the same will be true next summer. 

Fans booking corporate hospitality for the final test at the Kia Oval may recall some of those matches. In 2007, Anil Kumble made his only Test century for India as they piled up over 600 in their first innings, dominating a drawn match that clinched a 1-0 series win. 

Four years later, however, they had just been usurped by England as the top-ranked Test side after the home team, needing to win the four-match series by at least two Tests, were 3-0 going into the game. England went on to win by an innings to make it 4-0.

If England had been triumphant in 2011 from the Ashes onwards, the situation was very different in 2014. Not only had they been whitewashed down under, but had lost the two-match series at home to Sri Lanka that began the summer and then lost to India at Lord's. However, wins at the Ageas Bowl and Old Trafford had turned the series around and England made it 3-1 at the Kia Oval with another innings win.

As the Ashes approaches, therefore, it is hard to determine what bearing it may have on next summer's India series. This is even more true with England facing New Zealand away and Pakistan at home in short series between the two five-match encounters. 

However, as in 2011 India are likely to arrive as still the number one-ranked Test team even though with only three home Tests this winter - compared with 13 last year - and a tough trip to second-placed South Africa coming up, they may not be leading the table by as much as they do now.  
 
England are currently in third place behind the South Africans, despite beating the Proteas 31 this summer, while Australia are in fifth place, which may warrant a more sober assessment of their Ashes hopes than talk of winning 5-0.

Image: Getty, from Keith Prowse subscription

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