Less than a month after England’s dramatic World Cup win over New Zealand, Joe Root’s side will begin their Ashes campaign tomorrow against Australia at Edgbaston.
England will be looking to regain the Ashes from their arch-rivals following Australia’s 4-0 victory in the last series down under, however the tourists will need to win their first Test series in England in nearly twenty years if they are to retain the coveted urn.
England Team News
Despite being skittled for 85 in the first innings of their game against Ireland at Lords last week, England have kept their faith in the same top four with Jason Roy and Rory Burns set to open.
However, there is a slight change in the batting line-up with captain Root moving up the order to bat at three and Joe Denly moving down to number four.
Root has previously been reluctant to bat higher in red-ball cricket but as England’s best batsman, he will be aiming to provide more solidity to a top-order that has failed far too much in recent years.
England’s greatest ever fast bowler James Anderson has recovered from a calf injury and will spearhead the bowling attack alongside Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes with Olly Stone, Sam Curran and World Cup hero Jofra Archer missing out.
Australia Team News
Australia have welcomed back Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft following their ‘sandpapergate’ bans and it is believed Bancroft will be favoured ahead of Marcus Harris to open the innings alongside Warner.
Bancroft has scored 726 runs for Durham in the County Championship this year at an average of 45.37 and his knowledge and success in English conditions means the Australian selectors are likely to choose him ahead of the inexperienced Harris, whose only taste of playing in England came in the warm-up games.
There are still question marks surrounding their middle order with Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh and Matthew Wade vying to bat at either five or six.
Like England, the visitors have a wealth of fast-bowling talent with Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Peter Siddle, James Pattinson and Michael Neser in their squad and, with Pattinson guaranteed to play at Edgbaston, the deadly trio of Cummins, Starc and Hazlewood will be broken up.
The three were key to Australia’s Ashes triumph in the previous series but have all struggled with injuries. In fact, Hazlewood missed the World Cup to ensure he was fit for this series and both he and Starc are expected to miss out in favour of Cummins, Pattinson and Siddle.
England have an excellent record at Edgbaston having won all of their previous 11 internationals at the ground, whereas Australia have only won three of the 14 Ashes Tests played at the venue, with their last victory coming in 2001.
It was also the scene of England’s recent eight-wicket thrashing of Australia in the World Cup semi-finals, a result the hosts would love to repeat in the Ashes opener.
Ben Stokes, England: “Both teams are desperate to win, both sets of players are desperate to perform because Ashes series are where you get scrutinised and criticised more, or praised if you do well.”
Tim Paine, Australia: “If we can be really clear, come out and execute well, it doesn’t matter if we play at Edgbaston or on the moon, we think our best cricket is good enough.”
This is the first time LFS have covered cricket in some time, its been over a year since we wrote about the great sport. As the Ashes goes on, we hope to bring you daily coverage as England look to continue their fantastic summer.