What are The Ashes?
Way back in 1882, the Australian Cricket Team won a Test against England at The Oval (their first test win on English soil). A sarcastic obituary in an English newspaper stated that England cricket had ‘died‘ and that the body will be cremated and taken back to Australia.
The then England captain Ivo Bligh later vowed to win the next series between the two teams and ‘regain the Ashes‘. Here’s when The Ashes came into existence, during the 1882-83 tour of Australia, which England won and Bligh was presented with a small urn, that reportedly contained the ashes of a cricket ball.
Over the years, many replicas of The Ashes urn have been produced, a trophy which is no taller than 6 inches. It has been a fiercely contested tournament between these two countries since over a century, with both teams currently tied, having won the series 32 times each.
The Ashes has to be contested atleast once in every four years, and is sometimes contested once a year as well, depending on both teams’ international schedule. England are the current holders of the urn, having won 3 out of 5 tests in the 2015 Ashes hosted in England. Now, we are all set for the 2017-18 battle between England and Australia, where Joe Root will be captaining England for the first time in the Ashes.
There’s a lot of hype building up as we inch closer to this year’s Ashes series, with both teams having a few problems. For England, a huge blow came in as Ben Stokes didn’t board the flight to Australia with the rest of the England team, getting arrested a day before the Ashes squad could be announced. His participation is in doubt, but the team is preparing to play without him.
After video footage of his fight coming out, ECB stated that it will be very difficult to pick Stokes for this series. However, they still have a good bunch of players, and the bowling attack will be led by the experienced duo of James Anderson & Stuart Broad. Anderson recently reached the 500-test wickets milestone.
On paper and on current form, the English squad looks tougher, but it’s never easy to beat Australia in their own backyard. The last time the Ashes was contested down under was in 2013-14, where Australia swept the series 5-0, and they will be looking to regain the Ashes urn after a gap of 4 years!
Australia is fielding a relatively inexperienced team, not one that would intimidate you. However, you can expect high levels of hostility from the Australian players, with David Warner recently stating that this series will be like ‘war’.
- England – Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman, Joe Root (c), Dawid Malan, Gary Ballance, James Vince, Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Mason Crane, Ben Foakes, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Jake Ball, Craig Overton,
Steven FinnTom Curran (replaces injured Finn), Ben Stokes(Stokes’ availability is kept on hold until investigations are done).
- Australia – Steven Smith(c), David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Cameron Bancroft, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird, Chadd Sayers, Glenn Maxwell (injury cover for marsh & Warner).
There was a fight for the wicket-keeper spot between Peter Nevill & Matthew Wade but the Aussie selectors decided to shock everyone as they included Tim Paine, someone who last played a test for Australia 7 years back. What a nice time to return, eh?
To be honest, both teams don’t have the great names that you are used to seeing in an Ashes series, but both will have to do with what they have. Regardless of the players playing, the series is expected to be a hard-fought one.
Fixtures and Venues
- 1st Magellan Ashes Test – The Gabba, Brisbane – 23rd November 2017
- 2nd Magellan Ashes Test – Adelaide Oval, Adelaide – 2nd December 2017
- 3rd Magellan Ashes Test – WACA Ground, Perth – 14th December 2017
- 4th Magellan Ashes Test – MCG, Melbourne – 26th December 2017
- 5th Magellan Ashes Test – SCG, Sydney – 4th January 2018
England seem to have a strong squad, with the batting led by stalwarts Alastair Cook & Joe Root, and the bowlers in good rhythm as well. Cook has the burden of captaincy off him and we expect runs to flow from his blade. Moeen Ali did brilliant in recent series against South Africa & West Indies, while bowling machine Chris Woakes can also be considered handy with the bat.
There’s a little worry in the batting line up if they lose Cook & Root early, exposing the likes of Stoneman & Malan, who don’t have a lot of experience at the highest level. If you ask me, I’d like to see James Vince find a spot in the team over Malan, Stoneman or Ballance, as he has experience of playing in Australia during the Big Bash League.
Australia will have fast bowling issues, with Mitchell Starc just back after a long injury break and Josh Hazlewood still recovering from a strain he picked up in Bangladesh. The batting has similar issues with only Warner and Smith being the reliant batsmen.
After a rough patch, Warner hit some good form in Bangladesh, which he continued in the ODIs in India, with some good knocks, even though Australia ended up losing the series 4-1. All in all, will Australia repeat their 5-0 whitewash of 2013-14? Certainly not.
Keep watching this space for more updates on the 2017-18 Ashes series. You can also subscribe to Read Scoops updates, and don’t forget to leave a comment if you have anything to say about what you’ve just read!