The surprise sacking of coach Mickey Arthur by the Australians just a couple of weeks before the Ashes series has been met with mixed emotions on these shores.
Initially, as the news broke, the departure of Arthur seemed to pile on the misery for the poor old Aussies, but this soon turned to worry as the great Darren Lehmann was announced as his replacement.
I have been lucky enough to see Lehmann, who is nicknamed ‘Boof’, play at North Marine Road on several occasions for Yorkshire as he was very much a fans favourite, and he seems to have carried this likeability into his coaching career, which had seen him steadily progress to coach the Australia A team, the role he was undertaking when his promotion occured.
Now the Australians have appointed Lehmann I think you will instantly see a lot more fight from the tourists, as in recent months they seemed to be in disarray, and possibly heading for a heavy Ashes defeat.
I still believe England will have too much for their rivals and a 3-1 series success is my prediction, but I believe it will be a lot more competitive with Lehmann in charge.
The Aussies came to this country having never really recovered from the infamous ‘homework’ incident back in India in March.
This saw four players - vice-captain Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson, James Pattinson and Usman Khawaja - dropped for the third Test of the tour to India for failing to submit presentations on team strategy.
All-rounder Watson then returned to captain the side for the fourth Test in place of the injured Michael Clarke, but defeat in Delhi saw Australia lose the series 4-0.
To add to the Aussies’ woes, last month, opening batsman David Warner was fined £3,700 for posting abusive comments to journalists on his Twitter account.
The opener obviously likes to keep Cricket Australia busy as he was later suspended until the first Ashes Test, and fined £7,000, for punching England and Yorkshire batsman Joe Root in a bar following Australia’s defeat to England in the Champions Trophy.
Australia are coming off the back of that thrashing in India, so they will be eager to avoid a repeat in the Ashes series, which starts at Trent Bridge on Wednesday July 10.
Lehmann is reported to be considering asking legendary former spinner Shane Warne for help during the series, this would also be a massive boost for the tourists with his wealth of cricketing experience and knowledge.
The major issue in the hosts’ line-up is who will open alongside skipper Alastair Cook.
Nick Compton has been left out of the England side for the four-dayer against Essex, which starts on Sunday, with Root stepping up to the role he has been more accustomed to in the past for Yorkshire.
I think Root should replace Compton in the Ashes with Kevin Pietersen slotting back into the batting order.
BY ANDY BLOOMFIELD