We are in the count down to the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge next week. I am over in England with the Ashes squad as they prepare.
It has certainly been a difficult few weeks but the team is in really good spirits and adapting well to life under Darren Lehmann.
We have had some really positive batting performances from our top order in the two tour games which has given the squad some real confidence going in to the First Test. The selectors will also have some tough decisions to make with six fully fit quick bowlers to choose from. A lot of preparation has gone into getting the bowlers ready for this series, so it’s pleasing to see that planning come to fruition before we start the first of 10 Ashes Tests over the next six months. We know injuries will occur and therefore having bowlers ready at this stage is so important.
We are under no illusions that this Ashes Series will be a challenge but our preparations have been very good, as all of the players have been for over a month on either the Champions Trophy or Australia A tour. Whilst the attitude of players is to always treat every match the same, everyone is aware how special an Ashes series is.
While the men’s team is over in England our winter work still continues back at the COE. Half of the AIS scholars have returned from their trip to India where our young quicks and a few batters went to work with Glenn McGrath and Craig McDermott at the MRF pace academy in India. The opportunity for our young pace bowlers to spend some time with some of Australia’s fast bowling legends in Indian conditions is invaluable for their preparation as professional cricketers, and hopefully Australian representatives down the track.
Our spinners and the rest of the batters in the program will head to Sri Lanka with Stuart MacGill and Tim Coyle at the end of next week to assimilate themselves in sub-continent conditions. One of the players heading to Sri Lanka is young Indigenous indoor cricket player Adam McDermott, who is highly regarded by Greg Chappell as an all-round spinning talent for the future.
Our Australian Under 19 team is in Darwin at the moment playing in a Tri Series with India and New Zealand. They got off to a great start beating New Zealand in the opening match but were unable to get up over India in their second match. This tournament is great preparation for them as they look towards the U19 ICC World Cup early next year.
The Under 19 program has been positively enhanced by the presence of three past Test players in Stuart Law, McDermott and Chappell. The presence and pride they show to our best young players in valuing the baggy green is really important for the long term culture of our game. I am really proud of the work that is occurring in the Under 19 program.
Finally, construction at the new COE is progressing well and our staff in Brisbane tell me that it’s starting to really take shape. Once it is finished we will be the proud owners of one of the best high performance cricket centres in the world.
All of these winter cricket activities we are undertaking are crucial to the continued success of our high performance program and allow us to continue our player pathway program through a part of the year where cricket is traditionally off the agenda.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia