Opinion: Ashes predictions were a mixed bag

Afghanistan

Before the Ashes began, what feels like eons ago, we at C365 made a number of predictions, just for the fun of it. Turns out we're pretty average at guessing the future, but we did get a few things right. Kind of…

Before the Ashes began, what feels like eons ago, we at C365 made a number of predictions, just for the fun of it. Turns out we're pretty average at guessing the future, but we did get a few things right. Kind of…

Here are our predictions (<a href='http://www.cricket365.com/soapbox/story/8813726/Cricket365-s-All-Important-Ashes-Predictions' class='instorylink'><b>read the original list here</b></a>), compared to what actually happened over the course of the past five Tests in England. Hopefully we'll be more successful when the little urn ventures Down Under at the end of the year.

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

<b>We said:</b> Chris Rogers, Jonathan Trott (x2), Shane Watson, Kevin Pietersen<br><b>In reality:</b> Ian Bell (562 runs at an average of 62.44)

Interestingly, the Rogers and Watson predictions were made with either extreme optimism or slight irony, but they turned out to be pretty accurate. Watson was the second-highest run-getter, and Rogers would have been there if it weren't for Watto's ton in the fifth Test.

But Bell was a class above the rest, scoring three centuries and two fifties in the series. He wasn't in good form ahead of the Ashes, but turned out to be the saving grace for the hosts as their top three failed more often than not. Trott, tipped by many for glory ahead of the series, only scored two half centuries and averaged 29.30.

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

<b>We said:</b> James Anderson (x3), Graeme Swann and James Pattinson<br><b>In reality:</b> Graeme Swann (26 wickets at 29.03)

When you're done laughing at the fact that one of us tipped Pattinson, you'll notice that Swanny had his name in the Goblet of Fire. He took the most wickets, though he didn't have the best average as that belonged to Australia paceman Ryan Harris (19.58).

Harris played one less Test than Swann and ended second on the list with 24 wickets, while Anderson was joint third on the list. He started the series with a 10-wicket haul, one of two in the series (the other was Stuart Broad) but faded away as the series progressed.

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

<b>We Said:</b> Neither here nor there<br><b>In reality:</b> We were right, mostly. KP made one century.

The prediction where we said he's do well every three knocks was almost correct, as he got a vital half century at Trent Bridge in the second innings and then failed for single figures twice at Lord's.

He then got a lone series ton in the first knock in Manchester (113), before getting eight in the second. Overall, he did not look his usual flashy self, and was hidden in the shadows thanks to Bell's brilliance. Two fifties at The Oval upped his average to 43, and the second knock made sure he went out with a bang.

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

<b>We said:</b> Michael Clarke (x3) and James Pattinson<br><b>In reality:</b> James Pattinson (lower back stress fracture)

The first Test saw worries surrounding Stuart Broad's shoulder, while the second revolved around Kevin Pietersen, but both were fine in the end. Australia, meanwhile, were again reduced in the bowling department, as Pattinson and Jackson Bird suffered back injuries.

Pattinson was the first player to exit the series though, as his lower back problem once again flared up in the wake of the second Test. He had taken seven wickets in the two games he played. Tim Bresnan was also later ruled out with a similar issue, while Ashton Agar went home with a viral illness.

It's worth noting that back-knacked Michael Clarke played all five Tests, though he was rested for the tour games in between Tests. To be fair, this might be due to the relatively short time he spent in the middle, making most of his runs in one knock in Manchester (187).

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

<b>We said:</b> Darren Lehmann being naughty, Twitter scandal, on-field banter, ball tampering<br><b>In reality:</b> Good lord, where do we start?

This series was dominated by off-field drama, from David Warner's brother saying mean things about Shane Watson on Twitter, to Stuart Broad causing Australians to go apoplectic with rage when he refused to walk, to Darren Lehmann getting fined for calling Broad a 'blatant cheat'.

On top of that we had Mickey Arthur saying Shane Watson was like 'cancer' and that he and Michael Clarke hated each other, and then Pup and Kevin Pietersen had some mid-pitch playground banter. Also, Monty Panesar relieved himself on a nightclub bouncer, and players were accused of trying to trick technology.

Then we had tons of drama surrounding the Decision Review System, with umpires Aleem Dar, Marais Erasmus and Kumar Dharmasena chucking their names away big time early on. The inventor of Hot Spot was also dragged through the mud, because of the silicone tape saga.

And finally, <b>Prediction 6: Who will win the Ashes and by what margin?</b>

<b>We Said:</b> England to win 3-1 (x2), or 2-1 (x2)<br><b>In reality:</b> England won 3-0

This was all prompted by Ian Botham's hubristic prediction that England would win 5-0, which none of us took seriously. The first Test nearly made Englishers choke of their Cornish pasties, as the hosts narrowly won by 14 runs in exciting circumstances.

The Aussies then lost the second and the fourth Tests by decent margins as England showed their quality via the winning of key sessions. England weren't brilliant, but they were consistently good enough, and Ian Bell's form certainly helped.

The third and fifth Tests were rain-affected, resulting in draws, though the match at Old Trafford could have gone the Aussies' way of rain hadn't ruined day five. In fact, Australia improved with each Test, especially their batting, which bodes well for the end of the year.

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