There are cricket tournaments and then there is the Ashes. The biggest Test cricket rivalry in history is all set to begin as England take on Australia at home for the latest Ashes battle.
Joe Root’s men will square off against a strong Australian side led by the dynamic Tim Paine. Playing at home, England will certainly start as favorites – the last time they have lost an Ashes series at home was way back in 2001 when Steve Waugh’s Australia managed to pull off a stunning series win.
The first Test of Ashes 2019 will begin at Edgbaston, considered as the fortress for England. The second Test will be played at the iconic Lord’s, followed by Headingley, Manchester and Kennington Oval.
It promises to be a cracker of a series as both sides would like to register a historic win. England, playing at home, would be desperate to continue their amazing run where they recently won the ODI World Cup. An Ashes win at home would make things that much better and would take cricket to its greatest heights in the country.
Australia, meanwhile, has been a team in transformation for a while. After the ugly ball-tampering saga early last year, their cricket had derailed significantly. While they have been impressive in the shorter formats of late, it remains to be seen if they will be able to replicate that in the Test format. After all, they did lose the Test series to India at home earlier this year.
However, the return of Steve Smith and David Warner – the men in the middle of the ball-tampering scandal – would be a massive boost to Australia. Both Warner and Smith have been an integral part of Australia’s Test setup in the past few years and their return would make a massive difference to the side. What has helped that both the batsmen, after their one-year ban, have been actively playing cricket in the past three months – first the IPL followed by the World Cup – and would be battle ready come the Ashes. Smith, especially, thrives in this format and was one of the best in the world before the ban, averaging 61.37 in 64 Tests. He might well be the man for Australia this Ashes.
Apart from these too, Australia would be reliant on Usman Khawaja to settle the batting order. Australia’s bowlers Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon would have a big role to play as they are in form and to win the Ashes they would have to produce their best.
England has a solid team, and the players to watch out for them would be captain Joe Root, all-rounder Ben Stokes and their prime bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad. Jofra Archer, who will be making his Ashes debut, can be a real threat too.
It should hence be an absolutely exciting Ashes series. The result of the first Test at Edgbaston might well decide who has the upper hand going ahead. Regardless of the results, though, the Ashes is a series that needs to be savored for the intense rivalry and those fascinating battles within the battles. Let’s hope Ashes 2019 lies up to its billing and delivers with aplomb.