Australia out to prove Gabba remains a fortress as Cummins era starts with Ashes battle

By Sports Desk December 05, 2021

Australia will be expected to ensure normal service is resumed in the heat of an Ashes battle at the Gabba when they start a new era on Wednesday.

The Tim Paine sexting scandal presented Pat Cummins with the opportunity to become the first fast bowler to captain the Australia Test side.

Cummins was appointed less than a fortnight before his side start their defence of the urn against fierce rivals England, with Steve Smith his assistant as Paine takes an indefinite mental health break from cricket. 

The paceman has long since been talked of as a potential successor to Paine and gets his chance earlier than expected.

Cummins was already on a high from playing his part in Australia's maiden T20 World Cup triumph in Dubai last month and should thrive on the extra responsibility of being skipper.

Australia have not played a Test since they were consigned to a 2-1 home defeat to India in January and although England have had plenty of action in the longest format this year, poor weather in Brisbane has badly hampered their preparations.

Stats Perform picks out some of the storylines, sprinkled with some Opta data, from an Australia perspective before one of the great sporting rivalries gets under way again.

 

Cummins to get Australia going?

Cummins has led Australia's pace attack on many occasions and was the pick of the bowlers in a 2-2 Ashes series draw in England two years ago, taking 29 wickets at average of 19.62.

Since the start of 2018, no bowler has claimed more scalps in the longest format than the 28-year-old's 128 - which have come at 19.9 apiece.

Cummins, the number one Test bowler in the world, will no doubt be licking his lips at the prospect of ripping into what has been a fragile England batting line-up.

Josh Hazlewood will also pose a huge threat and Mitchell Starc will be out to silence critics such as Shane Warne, while Jhye Richardson and Michael Neser show Australia's strength in depth in the pace ranks.

 

Gabba no longer a fortress?

Australia had not lost a Test at the Gabba for 33 years until India's famous victory in January.

Joe Root fanned the flames last month by stating the hostile Brisbane venue is no longer such a "stronghold" for Australia.

It has most certainly not been a happy hunting ground for England, who have only won four of 21 Tests at the stage for the curtain-raiser for the series. The tourists' last Test win at the Gabba came in November 1986.

England have not won a Test in Australia since January 2011, losing nine and drawing one of their previous 10 contests, and they will be braced for a barrage of pace when they start their quest to regain the urn this week.

 

England must find an answer to Smith and Labuschagne 

The England bowlers had seen more than enough of Smith by the end of the 2019 series.

He racked up 774 runs at an average of 110.57 from seven innings, reaching three figures on three occasions and scoring a sublime 211 at Old Trafford.

The former skipper broke his own record for number of runs in a Test series in the 21st century. Only the great Don Bradman (19) and Jack Hobbs (12) have more Ashes centuries than Smith's 11.

Marnus Labuschagne was also outstanding in England two years ago, averaging 50.42. He has been a revelation at number three and will have a big role to play.

 

Australia in safe hands with Carey?

Alex Carey will take the gloves and make his Test debut at the Gabba in the absence of Paine.

Carey has plenty of experience at the age of 30 and has 83 international white-ball experiences under his belt.

He comes into his Test bow on the back of making a timely century for South Australia against Queensland in the Sheffield Shield and has a chance to cement his spot in the side.

Related items

  • West Indies squads named for T20Is and CG United ODIs vs Bangladesh West Indies squads named for T20Is and CG United ODIs vs Bangladesh

    Cricket West Indies’ (CWI) Selection Panel on Tuesday announced the West Indies Men’s squad for the upcoming three-match T20 International Series and the three-match CG United One-Day International Series against Bangladesh.

    Rovman Powell has been announced as the new Vice Captain for the T20Is while left-arm fast bowler Obed McCoy returns after recovering from injuries. There are also recalls for experienced wicket-keeper batter Devon Thomas and allrounder Keemo Paul. In the CG United ODI Series squad, there is a call up for left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie.

    “We know Rovman’s history. He has captained the West Indies before and is also the captain of his CPL franchise. Our role is to look at future leaders as well and we have identified a few, including himself, who we will be putting programmes around to ensure we keep them involved in that aspect of the cricket,” said lead selector Dr the Hon. Desmond Haynes.

    “Thomas is a very versatile cricketer, who has been knocking on the door in all formats. He has been doing well in franchise cricket and with that level of talent, we must ensure we keep him interested. He brings a lot to the table and is basically a four-dimensional player, he can bat, bowl, he is brilliant in the field, and he can keep wicket as well. McCoy has done exceptionally well in the IPL and enjoyed a successful stint in England as well, so we are confident that he is back to his best in terms of playing and fitness. Generally, we have to start looking at the bigger picture of getting these players playing together as often as possible in preparation for the ICC T20 World Cup later down in the year. We need to ensure we are fielding a very strong side for that tournament,” Haynes added.

    The T20I Series opens with back-to-back matches on Saturday, 2 July and Sunday, 3 July at the Windsor Park in Dominica. This will see a return to international cricket at the fully refurbished venue, where international cricket is being hosted for the first time since the hurricane damage of 2017. The Series climaxes with the third and final match on Tuesday, 7 July at the Guyana National Stadium. The CG United ODI Series will be played at the Guyana National Stadium on Friday, 10 July, Monday 13 July and Thursday, 16 July.

    Online ticket sales are now live via the new WINDIES TICKETS service, presented by Mastercard, at www.tickets.windiestickets.com. Fans can purchase in advance without the need to travel to box offices to save tickets to their mobile phones which can then be presented for scanning at the stadium entrance. Fans who register for the WINDIES TICKETS service and purchase tickets will also receive offers and promotions for future games.

    In Dominica, there is great excitement on the Nature Isle for the return of international cricket with tickets available in three price categories providing a range of viewing positions for every budget. Ticket prices range from US$6 (EC$15) for the Mound/Grounds, to US$15 (EC$40) for the standard seats and US$25 (EC$70) premium seating in the Shillingford Stand.

    In Guyana, the prices will range from US$6 (GUY$1200) for the Mound/Grounds, to US$15 (GUY$3000) for the Orange Stand or US$25 (GUY$5000) for the best seats in the Red and Green Stands, as the fans in Guyana welcome the busiest “Summer of Cricket” to the South American mainland. 

    Fans can watch live on ESPN Caribbean and listen to live radio commentary on the Windies Cricket YouTube channel.

     

    FULL SQUADS

    T20 Internationals

    Nicholas Pooran (Captain)

    Rovman Powell (Vice Captain)

    Shamarh Brooks

    Akeal Hosein

    Alzarri Joseph

    Brandon King

    Kyle Mayers 

    Obed McCoy

    Keemo Paul

    Romario Shepherd

    Odean Smith

    Devon Thomas

    Hayden Walsh Jr.

    Reserve: Dominic Drakes

     

    One-Day Internationals

    Nicholas Pooran (Captain)

    Shai Hope (Vice Captain)

    Shamarh Brooks

    Kaecy Carty

    Akeal Hosein

    Alzarri Joseph

    Brandon King

    Kyle Mayers

    Gudakesh Motie

    Keemo Paul

    Anderson Phillip

    Rovman Powell

    Jayden Seales

    Reserve: Romario Shepherd

     

     

  • Insigne: Toronto move motivated by need for fresh challenge Insigne: Toronto move motivated by need for fresh challenge

    Lorenzo Insigne says his move to Major League Soccer side Toronto FC came about due to his need for a new challenge after spending his entire career with Napoli.

    The Italy international agreed to join Toronto in January, going on to finish the 2021-22 Serie A season with 11 goals in 32 appearances for Luciano Spalletti's Napoli before heading to Canada.

    Insigne scored 122 goals in 434 appearances for his hometown club, a tally which is only bettered by Dries Mertens (148) and represents seven goals more than the late, great Diego Maradona netted for the Partenopei (115).

    Speaking at his first news conference in Toronto, Insigne refuted the suggestion that MLS represented a step down for a player of his quality.

    Asked whether he had been presented with other options, Insigne said: "I didn't receive any [other] offers at that time. It was very early when I first met the president, and I still had my contract with Napoli. I could have stayed in Europe. 

    "I'm 31, so I still have many years in front of me, but I wanted to choose happiness and the wellbeing of my family. 

    "As I mentioned before, I won a lot with Napoli, and I lost as well. But I wanted a change and more importantly, a challenge, either in another European club or here in North America. 

    "I've heard people saying that soccer in North America is not real soccer, but I've seen it and it's not true. 

    "It is a challenge because of the move, but I'm really grateful to the opportunity the president gave me and the whole organisation has given me, and the love and the effort that everybody is putting into this. I'm very thankful, and I want to repay the love with my performances during the season."

    Insigne joins a team that sits 11th in the Eastern Conference, but he is already targeting silverware.

    "I am very happy to be here. This is a big and new adventure for me and my family, this is the first time we have been away from Napoli," he said.

    "But it was a great choice, because when I first met the president, he talked to me about Toronto as a city and especially about the team. 

    "He struck me as a really great person, and the project that he explained to me about the team stuck with me.

    "I made the decision, not for the money, but for a new life for my family and my kids, and for their wellbeing. The project is certainly a challenge, and I would like to be part of winning the championship.

    "I played for Napoli for 10 years and for the Italian national team, winning the Euros. So, I don't have any problem with being under pressure, and I'd rather have my actions speak for me on the pitch."

  • Wimbledon: Swiatek makes it 36 wins on the bounce despite topsy-turvy second set Wimbledon: Swiatek makes it 36 wins on the bounce despite topsy-turvy second set

    Iga Swiatek is through to the second round at Wimbledon thanks to a straight-sets defeat of Jana Fett on Tuesday.

    While the top seed did not have it all her own way in the second set, she ultimately had more than enough to see off Fett 6-0 6-3.

    All early signs pointed to a comfortable win for Swiatek as world number 252 Fett looked nervous, committing 14 unforced errors to her opponent's four in the first set.

    As such, Swiatek's first-set bagel arrived with the Pole barely breaking a sweat, but her level dropped in the second and allowed Fett a foothold.

    Fett broke to love in the first game of the second set, and although Swiatek instantly hit back, the Croatian then broke again before managing to consolidate and go 3-1 up.

    But she passed up five break points as Swiatek began to build her way back, and the world number one was soon a break to the good, with Fett's 23 unforced errors, which included nine double faults, proving her downfall.

    A sloppy return from Fett gave Swiatek match point, and the former put her next shot straight into the net as the favourite became the first female player since Martina Hingis in 1997 to win 36 successive matches.

    Data slam: Swiatek bagels again

    Remarkably, Swiatek's first-set bagel was her 17th of the season. This century, only Serena Williams (25 in 2013) and Kim Clijsters (18 in 2003) have managed more in a single year.

    While Fett made life a little trickier in the second, the nature of Swiatek's first-set performance almost made victory a formality and few would bet against her repeating her bagel feat in the second round.

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
    Swiatek – 10/15
    Fett – 7/23

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
    Swiatek – 0/3
    Fett – 1/9

    BREAK POINTS WON
    Swiatek – 6/10
    Fett – 2/8

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.