Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Ashes whitewash to stump up best value

Australia captain Michael Clarke bats during day one of the International Warm up match at New Road against Worcestershire. Tuesday July 2, 2013

Australian cricket is at its lowest ebb and their chances of recapturing the Ashes nose-dived even further with the sacking of coach Mickey Arthur prior to next week's first Test at Trent Bridge.

It's the poorest group of players ever to venture forth from Down Under and their problems are well documented, not least by the actions of batsman David Warner punching England's Joe Root in a bar in Birmingham after the tourists lost to their bitter rivals.

South African-born Arthur had an impossible task trying to impose discipline on an unruly bunch with limited talent – the Aussies have won only one of their last 10 Test matches – and doubts surrounding the fitness of skipper Michael Clarke, sees their hopes of winning a match, dimming quicker than dying embers.

Arthurs says he doesn't blame the players for his demise but who else carries the can?

He has been replaced by former Test batsman Darren Lehmann in a last-ditch move by the powers that be to try and generate some team spirit.

An easy win over Somerset in the first of two warm-up matches before that July 10 Test opener, saw half-centuries from Usman Khawaja, Phil Hughes and vice-captain Brad Haddin – they are currently in action against Worcestershire – but much more than that will be required if they are to threaten England.

The Aussies will start the series with a new opening partnership in 35-year-old Chris Rogers who has just the one Test match under his belt, alongside Shane Watson.

Both were together for the first time this week against Worcestershire.

It seems only the weather can prevent England from celebrating and hence odds of 2/5 for ouright victory.

The value lies in the 14/1 for a 5-0 whitewash.

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