• Ashes 2015: News round-up

    Kevin Pietersen has launched a spirited defence of under-fire Australian all-rounder Shane Watson – and says the blame for Australia’s defeat in the first Ashes Test lies with Brad Haddin and Steve Smith.

    ‘Every time the Australians get beaten, it’s always Shane Watson who takes the heat and, surprise surprise, this time it’s no different.’ Pietersen said in a blog for Sportsbet.com.au.

    ‘I’ve seen first-hand what damage he can do and, for me, talk of dropping him is massively premature. He needs to be backed by the Aussies, not hounded.’

    Watson has been panned at home and abroad after he was dismissed lbw in both innings against England, bringing to 14 the total number of times he has been dismissed in that fashion in Ashes Tests.

    After Australia lost the first Test by 169 runs, Pietersen said that the form of both Haddin (22 and 7) and Smith (33 and 33) should be of most concern to the tourists.

    ‘My concern, if I was an Australian supporter, would be on the performances of Brad Haddin and Steve Smith,’ Pietersen said.

    ‘Haddin scored 29 over his two innings, hardly an invaluable contribution, while Smith only scored a handful more runs than Watson –  yet he’s supposed to be their danger man and the form player in the world.’


    Australia remain upbeat about the chances of their attack spearhead, Mitchell Starc, being fit to take the field for the second Test at Lord’s, with the captain, Michael Clarke, claiming the left-armer has reacted positively to treatment on his injured right ankle over the past two days.

    Starc was the standout bowler for the tourists during their 169-run defeat in the first Test in Cardiff, taking seven wickets, but showed visible signs of discomfort during England’s first innings and requiring a cortisone injection to complete the match.

    While Cricket Australia have not specified the nature of the problem, the 25-year-old has developed bone spurs in the area twice already in his career and is understood to be suffering a recurrence of the condition. – The Guardian