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England win their first series since the Ashes. So how do things stand as we count down to when they take on those pesky Aussies again? Let's have a look:


The Captain

Guidance has been sadly lacking since the loss of Vaughan. Trescothick was sadly lacking, and Flintoff just seemed to have too much else to do. It's been a kind start for Strauss with 2 wins out of 2, but he looks promising. Here's hoping.


The Batsmen

Tres has been a little hot and cold, but the rest have been in good nick. Strauss didn't let the captaincy put him off his game, Cook has made a very good start, and both Pietersen and Bell have consolidated themselves as international batsmen. And Collingwood has impressed me as an excellent foil to the big hitters.


The Bowlers

A little depleted, if truth be told. Both Harm and Hoggy are playing ok, but will need to up their game a little for the Aussies. Mahmood is one for the future: a little too inconsistent at present, but great potential. And Monty... what can be said about the man? An English spinner who can actually spin the ball a bit, and one of the finest new characters in the game. A real gem.


The Glovesman

By far the cricketing highlight of the past week for me is the recall of Chris Read. He should be in the team on keeping ability alone, but hopefully the 80 runs he scored in the match will help him retain his place. If England are to retain the Ashes then they just can't afford to miss chances, and he's so much better than Jones behind the stumps that it's beyond a joke. Here's hoping that now he's got the spot he'll keep it.



So the current team is looking ok. But what they really need is someone special, and they're desperate for the return of Freddie. If he's fit, there's a real chance of victory. On current form (and assuming that Vaughan won't be fit and that Simon Jones simply won't have played any matches), then the only change I'd like to see from the side that played today is Flintoff in for Mahmood. Just think, proper batting all the way down to 7 plus a decent attack... I wonder how the opposition are shaping up?

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