Jimmy and Trott will rule, KP will be average


While we may not have a cricketing pedigree that stretches beyond the fifth team at our local club, we do have an informed opinion or two about what will go down in the battle for the little wooden urn.

When asked who he thought would win the Ashes, both in England and Australia over the next six months, former England all-rounder Sir Ian Botham predicted a 10-0 win for his countrymen.

While we may not have a cricketing pedigree that stretches beyond the fifth team at our local club, we do have an informed opinion or two about what will go down in the battle for the little wooden urn.

<b>Our panelists:</b><br><b>Lindsay du Plessis</b>, senior journalist<br><b>Barend Prins</b>, senior journalist<br><b>Shahida Jacobs</b>, senior journalist<br><b>Mayuresh Kulkarni</b>, text commentator<br><b>Gareth Stevens</b>, journalist<br><b>Gareth Allison</b>, text commentator

<b>Prediction 1: Who will make the most runs in the series?</b>

<b>LdP:</b> Never in my life have I wanted anyone to do well as much as I want Chris Rogers to succeed. He seems like such a genuinely down-to-earth guy, with tons of experience in English conditions, and for his sake I hope he takes this second chance with both hands. I'd make massive money on this if I were a betting person and he actually did top the scoring list.
<b>BP:</b> Jonathan Trott. Adept at getting TV viewers to change the channel with his grinding style while irking bowlers with his incessant time-wasting, the Cape Town-born batsmen is adept at scoring runs against Peter Siddle and company. Don't expect these five Tests to be any different.
<b>SJ:</b> It looks like a straight choice between the two captains, but Australians have a rich history of targeting opposition skippers and getting them out cheaply. Michael Clarke might also have a lot on his plate that's why I'm going with Jonathan Trott.
<b>MK:</b> Shane Watson. He is due to make runs and is a great batsman.
<b>GS:</b> Jonathan Trott will make the most runs. He is consistent and has great powers of concentration. He also will not be targeted by the Australians as much as Cook or Pietersen.
<b>GA:</b> It's surely a three-way battle between Michael Clarke, KP and Alastair Cook; the first two seem to be hitting form just at the right time after injury lay-offs, whilst Captain Cook's recent lean run can't last forever. The incentive of facing a team he plundered for a mountain of runs last time out, as well as a maiden series win over the old foe as skipper, will spur him on.

<b>Prediction 2: Who will take the most wickets?</b>

<b>LdP:</b> As with my Champions Trophy prediction, I'm going to go with England paceman James Anderson. This is for the simple reason that I think he'll be the one bowler to stay fit for the whole series, thus giving him the best chance to take lots of wickets on tracks he likes. The Aussies are impressive but fragile, while Broad, Swann and Finn, and even Bresnan, have had recent niggles.
<b>BP:</b> Graeme Swann. While there is a school of thought that some batsmen might have started working the England off-spinner out, but Australia's recent struggles against slow bowling of any kind – Michael Clarke notwithstanding – suggests Swann will pose the tourists difficult questions to answer on a consistent basis.
<b>SJ:</b> Oh Jimmy Jimmy, Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Anderson…I should really stop singing that. The conditions will suit him to a tee.
<b>MK:</b> I am hoping it will be James Pattinson. Starc is also a good bowler, so I think it will be neck-and-neck, but I'm going for Patto.
<b>GS:</b> James Anderson will be dangerous while the ball is swinging, but I feel that if Graeme Swann can stay fit, he will take the most wickets. Mitchell Starc is a dark horse who might cause a surprise in this race.
<b>GA:</b> Anderson or Starc? Both can swing it, but Jimmy has the edge for me in this one. Home conditions and good recent form, coupled with Australia's well-known hesitance against the moving ball, all point to bags of wickets for Lancashire's premier fast man. The line "Hughes c Cook b Anderson" could be one we see a lot of in this series.

<b>Prediction 3: How will KP do in his first home series in a year?</b>

<b>LdP:</b> He's going to do well every third innings, with two relative failures in between. He's been out of the game for so long that it's tough to say how he'll do, despite his century for Surrey upon his return the other week. But knowing KP, he'll get one or two swashbuckling centuries, maybe even a double.
<b>BP:</b> Disappointingly for the most part. According to Damien Martyn he is the one player they fear most, but I have a sneaking suspicion the Aussies will have some plans for KP.
<b>SJ:</b> He's looked in decent nick since coming back from injury so he should do okay. In other words he will look good for a big score and then give his wicket away to a part-time spinner before going on to get a big century later in the series.
<b>MK:</b> He wont do too well or too poorly. I don't see any match winning performances from him.
<b>GS:</b> I don't think KP will set the world alight, but I do feel that he will be good value for his place in the starting line-up. All Englishmen (and South Africans for that matter) try extra hard against Australia, and this extra concentration should hold KP in good stead.
<b>GA:</b> Put simply, he'll storm it. Nathan Lyon in particular will have a job on his hands if he's going to keep the big man quiet. Perhaps the Aussie offie can switch to left-arm-orthodox mid-stride, à la KP's switch hit?

<b>Prediction 4: Who will pick up the first major injury?</b>

<b>LdP:</b> Michael Clarke's back will play up sooner rather than later. This will come in the wake of an innings-rescuing knock that sees him toil in the middle for at least six hours after the top order collapses around him. For England, Stuart Broad will need to leave the field with a bruised ego when Watto gets ahold of him.
<b>BP:</b> James Pattinson. The Aussie quick looks a really good prospect but is made from Balsa wood, sadly. Does he have the legs for a gruelling five-match series, particularly if the Aussie batsmen don't give the bowlers enough runs to play with?
<b>SJ:</b> Onions doesn't have the best of injury records.
<b>MK:</b> Hard to predict, but I am guessing Clarke's back will be problematic again.
<b>GS:</b> Swann is been injury prone of late, as has the Australian captain. It will be a major blow for either side, but one of the two will be the first casualty.
<b>GA:</b> Jackson Bird: bird flu. That, or Stuart Broad with a swollen head.

<b>Prediction 5: What scandal will rock the series?</b>

<b>LdP:</b> I, facetiously, predicted a punch up ahead of the Champions Trophy, and was amused to find myself proven correct. This time, the Aussie players will be far better behaved for fear of further reprimands, but coach Darren Lehmann will be in trouble for going out on the town with his friends, namely Darren Gough and Shane Warne.
<b>BP:</b> The lovers tiff. After some uncomfortably moments at the crease following a vicious sledging session from David Warner, Joe Root finally confesses the