iconimg Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Ian Chappell
May 24, 2009
Players swear by the IPL but some English fans may have reason to curse the lucrative tournament. Two prospective Ashes opponents — Australian fast bowler Brett Lee and English all-rounder Andrew Flintoff — might become the cause of English crowd’s dislike for the Indian T20 league. If it weren’t for a stint in the IPL after an ankle operation, Lee wouldn’t have had much chance of making it to the England-bound Test squad. On the other hand, Flintoff’s short stay in the IPL resulted in a knee injury, another operation and some doubt about whether he’ll be available for the 2009 edition of the Ashes.

Flintoff, who missed the series against the West Indies and is out of the T20 World Championships, is struggling to get fit in time for the Tests. If England lose because of his absence, there’s no doubt, the home fans will curse the IPL.

The Aussie fans, on the other hand, can say a quiet prayer of thanks to the IPL because without it, their team would have missed Lee’s services.

As it is, the Australian selectors have made some strange choices. Andrew McDonald’s selection as an all-rounder, and Nathan Hauritz’s as the sole slow bowler defies logic.

McDonald doesn’t bat well enough to be in the top six and his bowling is that of a part-timer. His greatest virtue as a bowler is his accuracy and Hauritz is also better equipped to contain batsmen rather than run through a line-up as required in Test matches.

It is disappointing that leg-spinner Bryce McGain was discarded on the basis of one, albeit horrendous, Test performance. Leg-spinners can confuse English batsmen and for that they don’t have to bowl like Shane Warne.

Also, the team lacks a back-up opening batsman. This may sound strange in view of Phillip Hughes’s successful run but there will come a time, when the tide turns against the him. If it happens at the beginning of the Ashes, then Australia will lack a suitable alternative.

What makes this situation even more worrying for Australia is the improvement in England’s swing bowling. The English seamers destroyed the West Indies recently.

Remember how England beat Australia in 2005?

By good and, at times, great swing bowling. Well, they’re building up another attacking force. Jimmy Anderson has come of age, Stuart Broad is improving rapidly and Graham Onions and Tim Bresnan looked capable when the ball was swinging.

If England have the luxury of adding Flintoff to this group of bowlers, the attack will look so much more dangerous.