Ex-Oz skipper Taylor believes Punter’’s team is favourite to win Ashes

March 12th, 2009 - 12:37 pm ICT by ANI  

Sydney, Mar.12 (ANI): Australias series defeat of South Africa on the latters home turf, has convinced former skipper Mark Taylor that Ponting’’s boys will start as favourites for this year’’s Ashes series.
Taylor also said that ageing stars such as Brett Lee, Stuart Clark and Andrew Symonds would have a tough time breaking back into a revitalized Test line-up. “It just shows the value of going with young players,” Fox Sports quoted Taylor, as saying after Australia’’s 175-run victory in the second Test at Durban.
“This is an ideal situation for Australian cricket because the older blokes have to try to push the younger blokes out and that’’s not going to be easy,” Taylor said.
“The selectors have some tough choices to make, but I can”t see them making too many changes. Brett Lee has played no cricket at all and Stuart Clark has just come back in grade cricket.
“Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus have been terrific and Doug Bollinger was good in his only Test (in Sydney) so if Stuart Clark and Brett Lee do come back the selectors are going to have quite a few quicks to choose from.” Taylor’’s former vice-captain Ian Healy claimed Clark and Lee had credits for their past performance, but had to find fitness and form after long lay-offs from injury before they could be considered again.
“They”ve got some good bowling to do to prove themselves,” Healy said.
However, given the hectic schedule and injury record of the team recently, he said Australia had to ensure all its fast bowlers were fit and firing.
“We”re going to need them all,” he said.
Healy also believes Symonds is struggling.
“He’’s not in form. We”ve got to be a bit patient with Symonds and see how he goes in the Sheffield Shield final and maybe the IPL. He’’s got a bit of ground to make up,” said Healy. Healy said Marcus North can make number six in the batting order his own if he can become more consistent than Symonds in that position.
He said the two centuries Symonds had made in 41 innings in 26 Tests was not enough.
Taylor and Healy were both excited about the impressive nature of Australia’’s victories, giving it three in a row after the win in Sydney and redressing the balance of South Africa’’s 2-1 win in Australia in the summer.
Phillip Hughes, 20, has made a spectacular start in place of the retired Matthew Hayden, scoring two centuries in the just-completed second Test.
Johnson, with 12 wickets at 21, and Siddle, with 11 wickets at 18, have been the stand-out bowlers in the series.
Taylor compared this series victory with Australia’’s 1995 triumph in the West Indies, when the visitors became unofficial world Test champion.
In that series he went in with an untried pace attack of Glenn McGrath, Paul Reiffel and Brendon Julian after opening bowlers Craig McDermott and Damien Fleming were ruled out with injury.
This time Australia’’s young bowling brigade ensured it would retain the now official ranking as the leading Test nation.
Healy felt the euphoria was more like Australia’’s unexpected Ashes victory in 1989.
“It’’s the start of a new cycle. Our last cricket cycle was 20 years, maybe a bit less by the time it took us to build up. Now I reckon this (series win) is extremely exciting,” said Healy.

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