The Ashes will be decided by which team’s fast bowlers can endure the demanding schedule, says Geoffrey Boycott.
According to BT Sport pundit Boycott, hosts Australia are favourites for the Ashes “firstly because in recent times most Test teams haven’t travelled very well.”
“Secondly, they [Australia] have more firepower than us, in Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins.
“On paper Starc and Cummins have more pace and are going to generate more pace and bounce than anything we can – and that’s quite a plus. But the minus side is: can they stay fit?
“Cummins has only played five Test matches since he came on the scene [he made his debut in 2011] because he’s been injured quite a bit. He plays one-day cricket but bowling 10 overs in three spells of three or four overs, that’s pretty straight-forward and easy. When you’ve got to bowl all day, 20 overs, and maybe once again the next day, then you’ve got a second innings two days later, even one day later, and then after four days of rest you’ve got another Test match, same again. That’s very different to bowling 10 overs. So although on paper they look stronger on the bowling, can they stay fit?
“Already [James] Pattinson’s gone down, their fourth seamer, he won’t play for six months. That’s just an example. And that’s why our two bowlers in Broad and Anderson have got to stay fit too. Anderson in the last two Test series abroad – India and South Africa – has been injured. In South Africa he was a shadow of himself because he didn’t play the first Test in Durban and it took him a while to find his form. That’s the problem – if you get injured there’s going to be no time to get match fit because the Test matches come so fast.”
Boycott also issued a warning to the “cocky” Australians.
“It’s alright the Australians being cocky, confident, quite a bit of bravado, trying to get their punches in first. I’ve heard what Cummins has said – ‘there’s going to be a lot of bouncers to England’ – and Starc’s said this and that, that’s all good, it’s talk. But they won’t be bowling quick and they won’t be bowling bouncers if they get an injury and they’re sat on their a*** in the dressing room, will they?”
With both batting line-ups “wobbly” apart from two quality player on either side, Boycott stressed it was the main fast bowlers who will determine the outcome of the series.
“Four years ago Broad bowled very well. He had a huge amount of pressure that tested his character and his mental strength and he bowled superbly and he stuck at it well, because they abused him all over. I don’t think he’s lost it, I think he’s still a good bowler. Anderson’s a very good bowler but again it’s about fitness. At his age, stay fit. Five Tests in seven weeks will test the bowlers enormously.”
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