Australia's 'Dad's Army' will find England's young team tough to beat

International cricket's oldest and most celebrated rivalry will resume on Thursday in probably the most eagerly-awaited Ashes series of all time.

cricket 88 (photo credit: )
cricket 88
(photo credit: )
International cricket's oldest and most celebrated rivalry will resume on Thursday in probably the most eagerly-awaited Ashes series of all time. England regained the Ashes from Australia in the summer of 2005 in a series that is widely considered to be the most-exciting in living memory. That series will always be remembered for the second Test, at Edgbaston, which England won by two runs - the smallest victory in Ashes history, and the second closest such victory margin in all Tests. If England would have lost that match it would have almost certainly lost the series. Following the victory belief coursed throughout the team as well as the country. Before last summer England had failed to regain the Ashes for 16 years. Ironically fans in Australia and around the world had grown bored with the series complaining that Australia, officially the world's best Test team, had taken the fun out of cricket. But the England win achieved through talismanic figures such as Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff and Kevin "KP" Pieterson encouraged renewed interest in the event with most of the tickets for the upcoming series selling out on the day of release. The Australian team contains probably two of the best bowlers that have ever played the sport in Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath as well as a wicket-keeper in Adam Gilchrist who has transformed the modern game with both gloves and bat. It also boasts a formidable batting line-up including captain Ricky Ponting, Justin Langer, Damien Martyn and Mathew Hayden. All the players mentioned above have one thing in common - they are old. They have been dubbed the "Dad's army" by the British press and it would be a surprise if any of them played in the next Ashes series in England in 2008. The Australian side is virtually unchanged from the last series which was hampered around by an injury to Glenn Mcgrath who missed two Tests of the five-match series. Perhaps the Aussies should have invested in some younger players before the 2005 series, and this could be their downfall this time. Justin Langer, the vice-captain of the Australian team has rubbished the 'age problems' retorting: "With age comes enormous experience and expertise and I would challenge anyone to write off any of my team-mates." England, due to various injuries to captain Michael Vaghan and bowler Simon Jones have been forced to invest in some youth. The injury-list was compounded by the withdrawal only days ago of Marcus Trescothick, the most experienced batsman in the side who returned home citing "mental problems". Young Sikh bowler Monty Panesaar has been brought in to add some zest to England's attack. Panesar's battle with the finest spin bowler in the history of the game, Shane Warne, will be a sight to behold. Sajid Mahmoud, of Pakistani descent and Alistair Cook will also come into the side. This injection of youth along with a quick bowling attack led by Stephen Harmison and Matthew Hoggard could make all the difference. Many "ex-pat" Aussies and Brits in Israel are eagerly awaiting the resumption of hostilities and will be getting up at 2am each morning to watch the matches on television. In a clear sign of the impending internet revolution, the BBC will be showing highlights on the world wide web of each day's play minutes after the last ball has been played saving many Englishman and those following in Israel some beauty sleep. The Ashes legend dates back to the ninth Test match between the countries which was played at the Oval in London in 1882. Following the Australian victory a mock obituary appeared in The Sporting Times claiming English cricket had "died at the Oval" and that "The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia." If England can regain the Ashes by the end of the five-Test series, which ends in Sydney in January, then many Australian newspapers could be writing new obituaries - not only for cricket in Australia but for most of the Australian team who could be overshadowed by their younger, fitter opposition. Sports fans around the world are in for a treat (if they can stay awake!)