By George Marrable
- England are in Brisbane ready to battle Australia in the 1st test
- They have played a number of warm-up games over the last month to prepare
- Australia will be looking to regain the Ashes after losing in England
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – The war of words between Australia and England is nearly over as Joe Root and his side take on Australia in the 1st test at the Gabba.
England come into the series high on confidence after back-to-back series wins against both South Africa and West Indies. They will no doubt be fired up following numerous comments from current and former Australian players, and will be looking to silence their critics in the series.
England Squad to tour Australia 2017-18
Joe Root (captain), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow (wicketkeeper), Jake Ball, Gary Balance, Stuart Broad, Alistair Cook, Mason Crane, Tom Curran, Ben Foakes, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes.
Despite coming into the series as underdog’s, England have been dominant in recent Ashes series. The tourists have won four of the last 5 series, but their only defeat was the most recent series down under.
England were victorious in the most recent Ashes series, beating Australia 3-2 in England. It was one of the closest series in recent history, and will be remembered by many for Stuart Broad’s heroics at Trent Bridge. Broad took 8-15 on his home ground as he ripped through Australia, and will be hoping to replicate that form at the Gabba in the 1st test.
The visitors will have bad memories of their most recent tour to Australia when they were whitewashed 5-0. It was a hugely disappointing series for everyone involved as Australia, in particular Mitchell Johnson, dominated England, and they will be looking to bounce back from that series defeat.
Ashes 2017/18 Schedule (GMT Times)
23-27 November – 1st Test, Brisbane (12am)
2-6 December – 2nd Test, Adelaide (4am, Day/Night Test)
14-18 December – 3rd Test, Perth (2:30am)
26-30 December – 4th Test, Melbourne (11:30pm)
4-8 January 2018 – 5th Test, Sydney (11:30pm)
14 January – 1st ODI, Melbourne (3:20am)
19 January – 2nd ODI, Brisbane (4:20am)
21 January – 3rd ODI, Sydney (3:20am)
26 January – 4th ODI, Adelaide (3:50am)
28 January – 5th ODI, Perth (6:20am)
Can England continue their test form into the Ashes?
There are a number of stars within England’s side, as well as a number of newcomers, and it will be intriguing to see whether the team has gelled in time for the series.
Without a doubt, England will be looking to their main man and captain, Joe Root to make a different in the series. Root, coming off a record-breaking summer, is currently ranked at number two in the ICC Test Batsmen Rankings, and his input will be vital when he comes in at number four in the lineup.
The Yorkshire batsman had a stellar summer against South Africa and West Indies as he equalled a world-record 12 matches in a row. He is currently averaging 53.76 in test matches, and has threw 100’s and four 50’s in his previous matches against Australia, and will, once again, be hoping to put them to the sword.
Alistair Cook, the only other batsman in the top 10 batting rankings, will be looking tp pick up his form after a slightly disappointing run of form in the warm up matches. However, he will be encouraged as he finally seems to have found a reliable opening partner in Surrey’s Mark Stoneman.
After being selected for the tour on the back of an average debut series against West Indies, Stoneman has not looked back, and is yet to make a score under 50 in the warm-up matches. If both of them find their feet early, it could give England a vital foundation to build their series upon.
England’s main concern coming into the series was their middle-to-lower order batting, which has been inconsistent for a while now. Dawid Malan, although being unsure of his place before selection, has found his form recently, including a 109 in their match against a Cricket Australia XI. Malan, along with James Vince, Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali, will be looking to ensure they don’t collapse in the middle order.
The big miss for England is, undoubtedly, Ben Stokes, who will not be available until the 3rd test at the very earliest after an incident in a Bristol nightclub. It is now up to Chris Woakes, returning to the side after injury, to fill the all-rounder spot. He has shown he can fill the bowling slot over the last 12-18 months, but questions remain over his batting. Woakes averages 32.14 in test matches which, whilst impressive for a lower order batsman, has a way to go to replicate Ben Stokes performances recently.
Alongside Woakes in the bowling department, James Anderson and Stuart Broad will once again lead the attack. The number one and ten ranked bowlers, respectively, have been a thorn in Australia’s side many times over the years and both will be looking to counter the many Australian critics of them.
Who are Australia’s danger men?
The upcoming opposition for England is full of star-studded and dangerous players, least of all Steve Smith – the only batsman above Joe Root in the test rankings. Smith is averaging 56.85 in test matches, and has the advantage over Joe Root of captaining in a previous Ashes series.
Smith, however, is not the only star in Australia’s side, with the likes of David Warner, Mitchell Starc, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon and Josh Hazlewood all in the side for the 1st test.
It will be David Warner who will be most familiar to England fans, with his aggressive batting in recent series getting their innings off to a positive and fast start. He made back-to-back hundreds in their recent test series against Bangladesh, and will be looking to continue that form into the series.
Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon will be Australia’s key bowlers against England, with the, both playing different roles. Starc will look to blow England away with his sharp left-arm over bowling, just like Mitchell Johnson did in 2013-14. Lyon, however, has emerged as a vital bowler for Australia, and just recently took 22 wickets in two matches for them against Bangladesh.
Who will win the Ashes?
Both side have immense amounts of quality and come into the series in very good form, but Australia will have the edge playing at home, with a very vocal and hostile atmosphere waiting for the England side.
Bowlers like Anderson and Broad have been crucial for many years for England, but will have to adapt in Australian conditions. But, if they continue their form from recent warm up matches, and England’s batting lineup continues to fire, then they could very well record another victory down under.
The 1st Ashes test between England and Australia starts 23 November in Brisbane.
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