2009 Ashes Squad - Australia
Ricky Ponting (c), Michael Clarke (vc), Stuart Clark, Brad Haddin, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, Phillip Hughes, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Simon Katich, Brett Lee, Graham Manou, Andrew McDonald, Marcus North, Peter Siddle, Shane Watson.
2005 Ashes Squad - Australia
*Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Michael Clarke, Jason Gillespie, Brad Haddin, Matthew Hayden, Brad Hodge,Justin Langer, Michael Kasprowicz, Simon Katich, Brett Lee, Stuart MacGill, Damien Martyn, Glenn McGrath, Shaun Tait, Shane Warne, Stuart Clark (added 9/8/05)
Andrew Symonds has been left out of the marquee series, despite Ricky Ponting's encouraging words. This must be a particularly bitter blow for Symonds, who missed the 2005 Ashes, did well in 2006-07 (made a great century at Melbourne). Now it is quite likely that Symonds, who at one point in his life had the choice of pursuing an England Test career or an Australia Test career, will never tour England for an Ashes series.
Brad Haddin, Michael Clarke, Brett Lee and Stuart Clark are the survivors from that ill-fated 2005 series, apart from Ponting. In this first Ashes series in the post Warne era, Australia have picked only one spinner - Nathan Hauritz, and the spin bowling advantage this time around will be with England who have more experienced spin bowlers in Swann and Panesar. Bryce McGain has expectedly been left out after his ill-fated encounter with a rampant South African batting line up at Cape Town. Phillip Hughes will doubtless be the great Australian hope this time around. England have been nice enough to give him a nice long look in at Middlesex.
Despite the fact that there are only 5 survivors from the 2005 series, only Graham Manou, the South Australian wicketkeeper who will tour as a back up from Brad Haddin is an uncapped Test player for Australia. Australia have had a rough season in 2008-09 - they lost in India, and then lost at home to South Africa. They won an impressive series victory in South Africa though, one which should give them great confidence going into this Ashes series against an England side, which even though it plays well at home, seems to lack explosive talent other than Flintoff and Pietersen. As the West Indies showed recently, England can be beaten. England are not without their personnel problems either.
The players to watch for Australia in my view are Andrew McDonald and Stuart Clark. If they can give Australia control with the ball, Australia will be hard to beat. This should be a fascinating series. It lacks the aura of the 2005 clash which was between one of the 2 or 3 best Test teams in history and the best English side in living memory. This one will be a more low key affair i suspect. One thing to watch for will be the possibility of reverse swing. Marcus Trescothick wrote about having identified the best type of "polish" to enable the ball the swing. Will England continue to employ Murray Mints? Will Australia?
Australia will be difficult to beat.