Starc reality means Root and Bell must thrive

Joe Root
Joe Root
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THERE are some areas for each team that are crucial if they are going to go on and win the Ashes.

At least two of the England batters need to show superb form if we are going to score enough runs to regain the Ashes.

Ian Bell and Joe Root are the two best players of out-and-out pace bowling in the England team.

Bell had a tremendous series in England two years ago and he has to do the same again.

I sense his spot is under pressure but I think he can slip under the radar for this series with expectations elsewhere.

Root has to deal with that expectation that the whole nation will have on him to go out and get runs.

In the past, Australia have bowled well at him. The plan being to pitch the ball up and bowl with very little width.

There is no doubt that Root has it all, both mentally and technically.

If these two can put runs on the board then England have got a serious chance of succeeding.

On the flip side, however, is the threat of the Australian bowling attack.

They were absolutely brutal in the last series.

The loss of Ryan Harris is a big factor.

He took 46 wickets at 19 apiece in the last two series and will be a big miss for Australia after his retirement.

One of the reasons Mitchell Johnson excelled against England was that Harris got some good players out regularly and Johnson terrorised the rest!

Josh Hazelwood will now be expected to fill that role but does not have Harris’ experience or record.

The left-arm fast armoury of the two Mitchells – Starc and Johnson –will also be key.

The question is whether they can control the swinging Dukes ball.

If they can, then they will destroy the England batting line-up. Bowling at 92mph with swing is almost impossible for batters new to the crease to face.

If Starc can control the Dukes ball as well as he did the white Kookaburra in the World Cup then it will be all over by the third Test.

Can England do the same to the Australian top order?

Australian batsmen have struggled against the swinging Dukes ball in England over the years and this series will be no different.

There will be a huge burden on Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad but if they bowl well, then the damage can be done.

Even in the last series that ended in a 5-0 defeat, England regularly had Australia in trouble and five wickets down.

If England can put runs on the board, then Brad Haddin and the lower order may struggle to counter-attack as effectively as before.

Spin will also be key in this series.

Nathan Lyon has now played 40 Test matches and is a highly-rated off spinner who will be bowling into the foot holes.

Moeen Ali will be under pressure to find some form and I know I would prefer to have Lyon as my spinner.

However if England are bold and include Adil Rashid too then this gives the team a huge number of options.

I think Moeen could go up the order and include Rashid at eight to ease some of the spin burden as well.

It promises to be an exciting series.

England have been so positive this summer and I hope that continues.

Bring it on, Australia!