If history is anything to go by, England’s hopes of winning back the Ashes urn could be over before they started.
In 2010, England ventured down to Australia having not won on foreign soil for 24 years.
Although Andrew Strauss’ men held the urn, few thought they were a chance of defending it given their struggles on the rock hard Australian pitches and blazing sun.
But the ECB made one request non-negotiable. They insisted on having a number of warm-up matches to give themselves a chance.
England got their wish and played two three-day matches and a four-day match against an Australia A side.
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PAINE’S TEST CAREER ALL BUT OVER AFTER SHOCK ‘OVERNIGHT’ ASHES BOMBSHELL
Ian Bell went into the first Test off the back of a massive century, captain Strauss had found form and his bowlers went into The Gabba with overs under their belts.
Ultimately England won the series 3-1.
A decade on and England’s chances of winning back the Ashes have been thrown into disarray because of factors out of their control.
The weather gods have not been kind to them, with rain scuppering their first intra-squad tour match.
Next week’s second tour match at Ian Healy Oval in Brisbane is also in doubt, with up to 20mm of rain forecast for Monday and rain expected into the week.
It means their crucial batsmen Joe Root and Ben Stokes, who has not played for England since July, could be denied a hit out in the lead-up to the opening Test.
Pat Cummins is not considered a foregone conclusion to become the 47th Australian men’s Test captain, as Cricket Australia continued board meetings on Thursday night to try and come to a decision.
With the Ashes just two weeks away, the board met just a day after a five-person panel interviewed Cummins and Steve Smith to become Tim Paine’s successor.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, a decision could come as soon as Friday.
Although Cummins has been the hot favourite to take on the leadership responsibilities following Paine’s sexting scandal since the story broke a week ago, the publication says “there are some warm to the redemptive story of Smith”.
Across all sports boards generally ratify the selection of selectors or the selection panel — selectors George Bailey and Tony Dodemaide, chief executive Nick Hockley, chairman Richard Freudenstein and director Mel Jones — but following recent events and a crucial five-match Ashes series days away, the board is giving the matter extra consideration.
Sources have indicated Cummins was reluctant to take on the role in large part because of the extra responsibilities that come with it. The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age also reports this.
Cummins did not miss a Test in the past two Ashes campaigns and has not missed a Test because of injury since 2017, but the 28-year-old fast bowler is relatively inexperienced when it comes to captaincy.
Sensing a leadership change was not far away last season given Paine’s age, Cricket New South Wales made moves to resurrect the issue by handing him the one day captaincy of the Blues.
He impressed in his limited opportunities, guiding a strong NSW side into a List-A final.
But he missed the crucial match because of his earlier IPL responsibilities.
Nonetheless, his teammates have backed Cummins to succeed if he takes on the role.
Smith, meanwhile, earlier this year told News Corp he was ready to captain Australia again having been stood down for a year because of the 2018 sandpaper scandal that rocked the nation and saw three banned, a coach resign and an administration step aside.
Spin bowler Nathan Lyon said he was excited by the prospect of a bowler leading the side but added whichever way Australia’s board turned to, the team was in good health.
“I think it would have a really positive effect, if you look at the guys who are going to be captain and vice-captain and whichever way that goes I think the both of them are extremely well respected within Australian cricket and world cricket as well,” Lyon said.
“I think it’s going to be a real benefit that if you got a bowler’s mindset, also a batter’s mindset. Rather than having two batters’ mindsets, you’ve actually got both mindsets that can come together and really come up with some really good guidance.
“I’m really excited by the fact that we’re potentially going to have a bowler as a captain but in saying that we also got the best one of the best batters and one of the best players to play the game in Smith there as well.
“I think cricket Australia is going to be in some good hands.”
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Cummins also has the support of Shane Warne, but the former vice-captain and Australia’s greatest wicket-taker believes it is time to look past Steve Smith for any leadership role.
In a column for News Corp, Warne said Australia should turn to Marnus Labuschagne as Cummins’ deputy.
“In so many ways, it’s time to move on, and that includes moving on from Steve Smith as an official leader,” Warne wrote.
“We need to go into the Ashes now with a clean slate, not open up old wounds by appointing Steve Smith as vice-captain.
“He’s a leader in the team and you don’t need a C or VC next to your name to be a leader.
“Just by being in the side, Steve Smith will be a valuable asset to Pat Cummins and Marnus Labuschagne, who should be the vice-captain.”
Warne added David Warner had the best cricket brain in the team but had unfairly had a line put through his name following the sandpaper scandal.
He also expressed disappointment Mitch Marsh was not in the XI and the all-rounder would have been his pick as Cummins’ vice-captain were he in the squad.