As the battle for the Ashes approaches, both Australia and England have been playing warm up matches. Australia have split their squad in to 2 teams, and are playing for selection. England are playing a warm up match against Ireland. Both encounters have thrown up some unexpected results (with the ENG V IRE match still underway)
World cup form means nothing.
England have played poorly, despite having recently triumphed at the one day World Cup. Ireland have surprised at the home of cricket - Lords - and are in with a real shot of winning the one-off test. The best resistance from England has been from a nightwatchman, Jack Leach, who has battled his way to 92 before falling. For those not very familiar with test cricket, a Nightwatchman is someone that normally bats lower down the order, after the specialist batsmen. When it is coming close to the end of the day, teams sometimes send a Nightwatchman out to bat, to try and protect the recognised batsmen from having to come in for a short period, risking quick wickets.
Anyway, ESPNcricinfo's match report so far can be found here and it paints a fairly bleak picture of the performance of England. If Ireland can pull off a remarkable and totally unexpected win, it will surely be the greatest moment in Irish cricket ever.
Here is a highlights package from youtube, source: England and Wales cricket board channel
Australian Batsmen also struggling.
Australia's "selfie" match has produced very little except wickets, wickets and more wickets. The batsmen mostly struggled on a very lively pitch, which was deliberately prepared that way to test them. So far most have failed the test, with only fringe players Labuschagne and Bancroft (returning from the ball tampering scandle) along with David Warner making notable scores in the match.
The bowling stocks look stronger, with numerous contenders vying for positions. The most interesting conundrum for selectors is whether to pick Mitchell Starc. Usually one of the first bowlers picked, he appears out of sorts, and carrying niggling injuries, with other's pushing hard for his position.
Whatever happens in the Ashes series ahead, the lead up has certainly been interesting.
Thanks for reading,
P.S. I have shifted directions and will be posting my Sportstalk content from this account now, with my Actifit reports coming from my main account @jk6276.