Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

England to keep Aussies guessing

England have settled on their team to begin the defence of the Ashes. They will not, however, be letting the rest of the world know until the toss for the first Test takes place early on Thursday.

The idea is to avoid offering the opposition any semblance of advantage.

The tourists arrived in Brisbane yesterday, excited and desperate for the days to tick by. No Australian seems to think their team can regain the Ashes but the campaign begins at the perfect venue for the home side.

Australia have not been beaten at The Gabba for 25 years, since West Indies prevailed by nine wickets. Since the ground is almost always the venue for the opening Test of a series, Australia are unaccustomed to going behind early, if at all.

Like everybody else, Australia will already know 10 of their opponents and will be working on the presumption that they are pretty sure of the 11th, who will make up the fast bowling attack. The most mysterious third man since Kim Philby is almost certainly Chris Tremlett.

As the man who took the final wicket in England's epic win in the Ashes in Australia nearly three years ago, there may be a sentimental allure to involving Tremlett. That has certainly been helped by the performances of his rivals for the position, Steve Finn and Boyd Rankin.

One has been regularly disappointing until much too late in both matches he has played, the other has been finding the difference between being effective for 10 overs in a one-day match and having to reel off concerted spells over two innings.

If there is an element of Tremlett being picked by default, it may be wiser to pick somebody who has done it before rather than one who has not.

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