It’s the oldest international cricket competition in the world and many still believe that The Ashes is the biggest event in the test arena. There would certainly be no argument from England and Australia fans who can’t wait to see their teams do battle for ‘the urn’ once again.
While there’s always scope for changes to the schedule, The Ashes will generally be played every two years with Australia and England taking it in turn to host.
For the 2021/22 season, Joe Root’s men will arrive Down Under to contest five test matches, the first of which starts in Brisbane on December 8th. The teams will then travel to Adelaide for the second test, ahead of the Christmas break.
In keeping with tradition, Melbourne will host the Boxing Day test while the Sydney Cricket Ground takes the fourth game, starting on January 5th. Finally, with world events dictating a break from regular scheduling, Perth will now host the fifth and final game, beginning on January 14th.
It’s a long and grueling schedule for both teams but what can we expect from this summer’s Ashes series?
Holders have Home Advantage
Australia currently hold the trophy and they will start as favourites for a successful defence. UK betting sites listed at OLBG list the home side as an odds-on option while England are very much the outsiders to reclaim a trophy that they last won in 2015.
Throughout the series, OLBG will provide updates on a host of Ashes markets but the punters, like the odds setters, are expecting a comfortable five tests for Australia.
All Round Strength
Australia have named a 15-man squad for the first two tests of the series and there were some surprises on the list. Usman Khawaja and Travis Head were both recalled despite wasting previous chances to score consistently and to nail down a place in the test side.
Of those who are certain of their place, David Warner, Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne are the key batsmen. In England in 2019, Warner had a wretched series against England’s Stuart Broad, but the left hander found form at the T20 World Cup and it should be a different story on home soil.
In the case of Smith and Labuschagne, no English bowler had an answer to either as both men piled up the runs two years ago. Smith made an incredible 774 runs in just seven innings at 110.47 while Labuschagne averaged over 50 in his first series.
Australia may be vulnerable in other areas of the top order but that’s a prolific trio and one that holds the key to Ashes retention.
Within the bowling department, the hosts are well equipped in all areas. There’s swing, seam and pace from Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins while Nathan Lyon controls the spin department. It’s an effective unit and one that will put England’s inexperienced batters under extreme pressure.
Captain Carrying the Team
England’s Joe Root is having an extraordinary year, even by his own high standards. In test matches across 2021, the tourists’ skipper has 1455 runs, with no fewer than six centuries and an average at just over 66.
Those are impressive numbers, but the problem is that Root is the only genuine world class batsman in the visitors’ camp. The rest of the squad is made up of inexperienced test batters such as Haseeb Hameed, Ollie Pope, Dan Lawrence and Zak Crawley.
Other batsmen, most notably Rory Burns and Dawid Malan have experience and both have scored Ashes centuries, but neither is certain of a regular place.
In the bowling department, England will continue to rely heavily on the new ball pairing of Stuart Broad and James Anderson. They have over 1,000 wickets between them, and we shouldn’t underestimate their effectiveness away from home, but both are in the veteran stages and have suffered from injury recently.
To succeed, the tourists will need better support from the back up seamers including Chris Woakes, Mark Wood and Craig Overton.
It’s Australia’s Ashes to Lose
Even if this inexperienced England side can make competitive totals throughout the series, there are three key wickets that they need to take. Based on their previous records in tests and against this specific opposition, we can expect David Warner, Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne to make big runs across the five tests.
The late addition of Ben Stokes to the squad following an extended break from the game is a real bonus for the tourists. He will strengthen the visitors in the batting and bowling departments, but it appears that he and Joe Root will be expected to carry the side.
England will undoubtedly show fight and character, but their main weakness is a lack of strength in the batting and bowling units and those are areas for Australia to exploit.Sydney Unleashed is one of Australia’s premier entertainment publications exploring the latest in lifestyle trends. From Sydney’s finest restaurants, cafes and bars to the hottest in gadgets, products, and home entertainment, Sydney Unleashed is your one-stop lifestyle platform.