It is the biggest even of the summer as England and Australia battle for the Ashes. The first Test will be played at Edgbaston in Birmingham from Thursday, August 1. Australia have the urn following their 4-0 win down under and England will be desperate to clinch it back.
The ODI World Champions received a scare in Test cricket recently. Ireland pushed them hard, but fell short only just. The all-round skills of England side and the inexperience of Ireland side helped the hosts to come through unscathed. Ashes will be a different cup of tea, though.
A struggling top-order will mean Joe Root will come at number three for England. All-rounder Ben Stokes will lend weight to the middle-order, so England hope to play to their strengths.
England chose to stick with Chris Woakes and leave the exciting Jofra Archer on the bench along with Sam Curran. Still, the attack has James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Moeen Ali give them a solid outlook.
Australia have won 4-0 against England in 2018, but they haven’t won in England since 2001. The 2015 series saw England win 3-2, with Stuart Broad setting the series winner at Trent Bridge. Australia were also breezily brushed aside in the recent ICC World Cup semi-final.
The returning David Warner and Steve Smith give hope for Australia of getting it right. Usman Khawaja and James Pattinson are sure to play. The only question for the Aussies will be on Warner’s opening partner – Marcus Harris or Cameron Bancroft.
Fantasy Players to Watch
Ben Stokes has missed the last Ashes due to off-field incidents. This time around, he would be looking to make the most of his abilities.
Steve Smith can be seen practicing additional hours in the nets to iron out his flaws. The determined middle-order batsman can be Australia’s best bet in any conditions.
James Pattinson is one of the best bowlers in Australia, when he is fit. At the start of this series, he looks to be at the top of his game and fitness. The pacer could be a dark horse pick.
England: 1 Rory Burns 2 Jason Roy 3 Joe Root (C) 4 Joe Denly 5 Jos Buttler 6 Ben Stokes 7 Jonny Bairstow 8 Moeen Ali 9 Chris Woakes 10 Chris Broad 11 James Anderson
Australia: 1 Cameron Bancroft 2 David Warner 3 Usman Khawaja 4 Steve Smith 5 Travis Head 6 Mitchell Marsh 7 Tim Paine (C & WK) 8 James Pattinson 9 Pat Cummins 10 Peter Siddle 11 Nathan Lyon
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