World Cup hangover out of the way, England and Australia rekindle Ashes rivalry
Tim Paine (left) and Joe Root's men gear up for five gruelling Ashes 2019 Tests. (AFP Image)

There’s nothing like good, old, classic dose of Test cricket, and when cricket’s oldest rivalry is set to rekindle, the occasion is just that bit sweeter. It wasn’t too long ago that England and Australia faced each other in the semi-final of the World Cup at Edgbaston, with the eventual winners handing the five-time champions their exit from the tournament.

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Three weeks removed from that convincing win, World Champions England will look to keep their 18-year Ashes streak alive at home when they host Australia in a bid to complete a double. What hypes the Ashes 2019 even further are the returns of David WarnerSteve Smith and Cameron Bancroft to Test cricket, set to walk out to a clattering of boos. Then there is the returning James Pattinson, whose career has been plagued with injuries and perhaps has one final chance to put his international career back on track.

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A series as big as the Ashes is just the tonic everyone needed post the World Cup. For England, it’s a chance to continue the high of attaining World Cup, and ensure the viewers gained do not get lost in the wilderness again. Make no mistake, the Ashes is as huge for England as the World Cup, if not bigger, and to top a season with a World Cup trophy and the Ashes urn could possibly mark an all-time high summer for England and their cricket.

Australia hold the Ashes after drubbing them 4-0 Down Under in 2017-18. But England have not lost an Ashes at home since 2001. Recently, there seem to have emerged a few batting concerns for both teams, with England being bundled out for 85 against Ireland and Australia, in their warm-up match managed 105 and 170. The Edgbaston surface has already created quite the stir with Australia captain Tim Paine calling the surface “different” to that expected.

David Warner and Steven Smith will play their first international Test since being banned last year. (AFP Image)

Dating back to 2014, England have won their previous 11 internationals at Edgbaston, their last defeat at the venue coming in July 2008. On the contrary, Australia haven’t done too well at the venue. In 10 games since 2001, Australia have lost nine and drawn once – during the 2009 Ashes.

What: England vs Australia, 1st Ashes 2019 Test

When: August 1 to 5, 2019

Venue: Edgbaston Cricket Ground, Birmingham

Time: 3:30 pm IST

Weather: Cloudy conditions expected with a high chance of brief spells of shower during the afternoons

Team News

England

Jofra Archer is set to make his Test debut, pairing alongside a returning James Anderson, who has recovered from a calf injury. With Joe Root expected to bat at No. 3, Joe Deny will drop down to No. 4. Jason Roy’s start to Test cricket was promising with a score of 72 at Lord’s last week and he, along with Rory Burns should be a lock in for the opening slot. Stuart Broad and Sam Curran are expected to be the other two seam bowling options with the addition of Ben Stokes’ medium pace.

Probable XI: 1 Roy, 2 Rory Burns, 3 Joe Root (capt), 4 Joe Denly, 5 Ben Stokes, 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Moeen Ali, 8 Chris Woakes 9 Jofra Archer, 10 Sam Curran, 11 James Anderson, 11 Chris Woakes

Australia

Coach Justin Langer has confirmed the inclusion of Pattinson in the Playing XI and Peter Siddle also in strong contention. Mitchell Starc might miss out as he continues his transition from ODIs to the longer formats, meaning that joining Siddle and Pattinson could be Pat Cummins. David Warner was hit in the nets but is expected to be fine by Thursday. Cameron Bancroft is most likely to get the nod over Marcus Harris to open with Warner.

Probable XI: 1 David Warner, 2 Cameron Bancroft, 3 Usman Khawaja, 4 Steve Smith, 5 Tim Travis Head, 6 Marnus Labuschagne/Matthew Wade, 7 Tim Paine (capt/wk), 8 Nathan Lyon, 9 James Pattinson, 10 Pat Cummins, 11 Peter Siddle

Stats and Trivia

– Australia last won an Ashes series in England in the year 2001. Ever since, they are yet to record a win at the Edgbaston Cricket ground

– The Ashes has been won by Australia 33 times while England are just behind with 32

– Root averages 48 at number four in the order but a shade over 40 when batting at number three

– From 15 Test innings in England, Warner has 555 runs at 37.06 with six half-centuries, Smith 853 from 18 at an average of 47.38 with three centuries and three half-centuries

Quotes

“Given there’s been a lot of rain, and the overcast (skies) here, I think the Dukes ball is going to swing around and it looks like, if anything, there might be a bit more pace in it than I was expecting, which again might suit us” – Australia captain Tim Paine expects plenty of movement in Edgbaston