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Gladstone Small on the cricketing year ahead


The summer of 2019 is now upon us and with the Easter weekend temperatures reaching into the 20s, cricketers across the country will be getting primed to start another season’s campaign. Already the domestic county season is underway and judging from the scoreboards registering high totals with many century makers, it would seem bowlers are in need of rains to help moisture and green up the pitches.

And what a feast of a menu there is for all cricket lovers this year!

England have named their squads for the opening preliminaries and the usual queries about selections have ensued, particularly the debate concerning Jofra Acher. I have yet to see the youngster in live action, but he certainly looks talented, and if his cricket abilities are deemed sufficient to improve an already impressive line up, then I am all for him being included straight away.

England’s form of the past couple years has seen them tagged as favourites for what will be a very exciting Cricket World Cup 2019. Given ICC renowned preference for high-scoring pitches, I expect matches will be dominated by bat rather than ball, and this will favour England team which is packed throughout with explosive batting. However, Australia and India cannot be ruled out, with New Zealand being my outsiders that can deliver a knockout punch. But I also expect there will be a few surprises as the tournament progresses with teams like Afghanistan and Windies able to cause upsets. Consistency will be paramount with any team that loses more than one match probably missing out on a semi-finals spot, which means there’s pressure and importance on every group match. My prediction is that having never won this, the oldest of all the international ODI trophies, England will finally break that run on home soil in mid-July.

If the World Cup is the appetising starters, then there isn’t long to wait before the main Ashes dish is served up. These contests seem to come around very fast, and home team advantage has been the the clincher for the past few bouts.

Generally, our England bowlers with the Duke ball and softer, seamer-friendly pitches have the tools to make them much more effective on their home pitches. More pertinently, the record-breaking pair of Anderson and Broad will be well rested having had little cricket leading up to this series, and will be eager to renew battle with the arch enemies. Focus quite rightly will also be on the England batsmen, who collectively were less than impressive in their last test series which resulted in a resounding defeat to the West Indies. Joe Root’s captaincy has also come in for some scrutiny, but I expect our best batsman to rise to the challenge in his first Ashes series and to captain the team well.

Australia, quite rightly in my opinion, have recalled their two most senior batsmen back into their ranks after sitting out the last year following the “Sandpaper gate” incident. Their team will certainly be strengthened and the players in question will be even more eager to express their undoubted talents – this will make them very dangerous opponents. Also, the Aussies will need to drop that “choir boy cloak” that clearly doesn’t fit how they have been brought up and have always played their cricket.

It’s going to be another enthralling Ashes series as the prevailing conditions here at home tends to bring these teams closer together in terms of relative abilities. The winners will be the team able to capitalise on the moments when presented to seize that advantage. England has a very experienced squad of test players and I fully expect them to use this home advantage to win the Ashes.

Cue for big celebrations at the end of what could indeed be a historic double-winners summer for England!

A lot of international cricketing action is happening on home soil this summer, but if you’d like to follow England further-a-field you can do so accompanied by Gladstone Small himself! Why not check out our hosted cricket tours to Sri Lanka, South African and more?


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