England’s tour of Australia: The Ashes 2017-18 – Series Preview
Brief introduction and a slice of history about The Ashes: Gripped by cricket fever, one of the exciting cricketing contests the Ashes has returned to Australia.
The last time both clashed in Australia in the Ashes 2013/14; the Kangaroos whitewashed England 5-0 following the spectacular performance by speedster Mitchell Johnson, who claimed 37 wickets, as the Three Lions batsmen were brought to their knees.
With the Ashes 2017-18 around the corner, we are into the 135th year of the enticing traditional tournament which was officially named as ‘The Ashes’, way back in 1882-83 in Australia when England toured the continental Island.
While talking about the history, the 1882-83 three-match series was won by England 2-1, under the captaincy of Ivo Bligh against Billy Murdoch-led Australia.
Earlier that year, England’s widely read newspaper ‘The Sporting Times’ already dedicated a page to the England Test series loss when Australia beat England at home for the first time, in the same year in August.
The newspaper even remarked the death of England cricket in its edition of August 29, 1882, as it made the post further cynical by terming England cricket died at The Oval in London.
However, thereon, out of first ten Ashes series’ the then outstanding England won nine titles which further demonstrate how the Three Lions dominated the Kangaroos before Australia returned the favour winning nine Ashes series out of 10 between 1989 and 2006-07.
In 69 series played so far, Australia won 32-times, and England equally lifted the title for 32-times while the five Ashes series ended in a draw.
In 2017, with lots of buzz, it’s going to be another fascinating battle which is scheduled to kick-off with the first Test taking place between November 23 and 27 respectively at Gabba in Brisbane.
England would be confident after lifting the coveted Urn in 2015 by 3-2 at home with new captain Joe Root leading a balanced squad after Alastair Cook relinquished his long-served post, earlier this year.
On the other hand, the Australian side is looking forward to resolving its middle-order woes which have been the cause of concern and forced its selectors for ‘horses-for-courses’-selection procedure.
The Captaincy Batlle of The Ashes 2017/18: Steven Smith vs Joe Root:
Steven Smith: The unorthodox batsman is more of a defensive leader, who is further attuned with the quality to play longer innings for his team after shouldering the responsibility.
Marching into the numbers, Smith, as of now, scored at a staggering average of 59.66 after featuring in 56 Tests for Australia. He smashed 20-hundreds and 21 fifties in 104 innings.
Joe Root: The promising top-order batsman is also of the similar approach when it comes to the captaincy as it would be the first time for him to lead his national side in the Ashes which would eventually be the Litmus test for the technically sound batsman before proving his credentials.
The versatile right-handed batsman Root averages 53.76 in 60 Tests, as he has registered 13-hundreds and 32 fifties in 110 innings.
The Ashes 2017-18 Match Dates (Schedule) Australia vs England
Australia Vs England, 1st Test
November 23-27, 2017, 5:30 AM IST
Australia Vs England, 2nd Test – Pink-Ball Fixture
Adelaide Oval (Day/Night)
December 2-6, 09:00 AM IST
Australia Vs England, 3rd Test
WACA in Perth
December 14-18, 2017, 8:00 AM IST
Australia Vs England, 4th Test
Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne
December 26-30, 2017, 05:00 AM IST
Australia Vs England, 5th Test
Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) in Sydney
January 4-8, 2018, 05:00 AM IST
Players in the red-hot form:
Nathan Lyon: The prominent face of slow-bowling for Australia, Nathan Lyon has been at the forefront to leave an imprint with his performances.
In the recently-concluded two-match Test series against Bangladesh, the off-spinner bagged 22 wickets across four innings as the series was levelled one each.
The 29-year-old New South Wales-based Lyon played 69 Tests in which he bagged 269 wickets at an average of 31.83.
Known as Gazza, Lyon bagged 12 five-wicket haul and nine four-wicket haul. His best figures are eight for 50 which came against India at Bengaluru earlier this year.
David Warner: Bold and quick learner of the game, David Warner has been in sublime form in the recently completed ODI series which further saw him smashing 124 in Bengaluru followed by 53 in Nagpur after settling with 42 in Indore.
The left-handed batsman Warner is capable of changing the complexion of the game owing to his aggressive approach.
Moreover, in the series against Bangladesh, Warner smashed two hundreds in his four innings against the Tigers.
Moeen Ali: The 30-year-old Birmingham born all-rounder Moeen Ali has been superb both with the bat and a ball of late which would be a blessing in disguise for the visitors in Australia.
The left-handed batsman and off-spinning all-rounder Ali has proved his mettle with his cameos which further saw him giving his best against South Africa in August, before being again in the wickets column against Windies.
James Anderson: The wily customer James Anderson has been the old-horse for England, who managed a workload to pay rich dividends for his national side with the ball. Recently, in the third and final Lord’s Test, Anderson ripped apart the batting line-up of visiting Windies when he claimed seven for 42 which eventually became his Test-best figures, as he finished the Test with nine wickets into his kitty.
With 506 wickets in 129, Anderson is leading Test wicket-taker for England as he claimed 24 five-wicket haul and 24 four-wicket haul respectively to leave a significant impact, particularly in the red-ball cricket.
Steven Smith: Since making his international mark for Australia in 2010, prodigious Smith made things look better in the nutshell while rotating the strike at his will, as he racked up 20 centuries in 56 Tests which further saw him scoring at the phenomenal average of 59.66.
With England already have their premium fast bowlers to play their part; Smith is equally good at facing the challenges which would be an exceptional thing to watch out for while playing the ball according to its merit even being unconventional with the bat.
Alastair Cook: Would have stood up for Ben Stokes, but it is yet to be confirmed whether he would be allowed to go or not with the case pending in Bristol following the street-brawl last month.
Anyway, the left-handed Cook has dominated the best of the attacks and he has equalled garnered runs against the topspin bowling of distinct opponents being a senior most campaigner with the bat.
The 32-year-old Gloucester-born Cook further went on to enjoy the throne for five years – to dictate his own terms which was eventually followed by occasional failures.
Experienced campaigner, Cook is further very much aware of the Australian conditions, as banking on his strength, he would be aiming to help his juniors to strike chords against a side which boasts about fast bowling stocks.
Cook has further smashed highest overall Test runs as England batsman which further reveals his knack for playing longer innings with 31 centuries already under his belt.
Analysing the Hosts Australia 2017/18:
Strength: Precisely, the strength of the hosts relies upon their fast bowling department which consists of the pace trio – Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins delivering goods owing to the short-bowling ploy against the Three Lions on lively surfaces back home.
Cummins has made a significant impact recently and shared the burden with New South Wales-based 26-year-old Hazlewood, who spearheaded the bowling attack to yield the desired results. Hazlewood featured in 31 Tests so far which further saw him picking 118 wickets at an average of 25.75.
Australia is heavily relying on Smith and Warner to play a significant role with the bat.
Weakness: As the limited-overs’ series in India made it clear, Australia’s batting line-up has been rusty particularly in the middle-order which plays a significant role particularly in the longer version of the game.
Moreover, with Starc and Hazlewood returning, it would be crucial how Smith will make most of out of his pacers.
Opportunity: First and foremost, Australian selectors have a chance to pick an inform and quality players, as the premium domestic competition has had already kick-started on October 26 between six-state-based teams.
Threat: The fair share of the top-order batsman including Steven Smith’s Deputy David Warner has been vocal coming hard at England bowlers which could eventually cost host too much, as the visitors this time around would be coming as underdogs.
Away Team England:
Strength: England would solely rely on its experienced campaigners in the form of former captain and opener Alastair Cook including skipper Joe Root himself followed by fast-bowling duo James Anderson and Stuart Broad, who have had shared 894 wickets in 238 Tests while donning the coveted Three Lions Jersey.
On the other side, Cook so far played 147 Tests in which he amassed 11,629 runs at an average of 46.33 which included 31-hundred and 55 fifties and his appearance at the top could be an imperative role, as he has the ability to carry alongside youngsters.
Weakness: ECB decided to pick three uncapped players in the form of pacer Craig Overton followed by gloveman Ben Foakes and leg-spinner Mason Crane could also further backfire for the England in the high-octane series.
Surprisingly, England used at least 12 distinct openers since former skipper Andrew Strauss announced his retirement in 2012.
Secondly, the middle-order seems a worrying sign for the visiting England, as James Vince and Garry Ballance have been struggling of late.
Whether they will leave an impact or not – the time will decide, but such a gamble could cost the England team owing to the bouncier tracks in Australia.
Opportunity: England would like to dominate in their own way after winning the series against Windies and routing South Africa at home recently before competing against Steven Smith-led Australia.
England has a golden chance to take a revenge of the whitewash – to play some competitive cricket before making Australia fight more in their home.
Threat: Ben Stokes’ inclusion in the squad still remains an unresolved mystery, with lanky fast bowler Steve Finn already in-line, in the place of the Durham-based all-rounder. England would be hurt badly if the 26-year-old player would miss out to book his seat for Australia.
The visitors are highly-likely going to be disheartened if they would travel without the services of Stokes.
The Channel Nine will broadcast series between the bitter rivals in Australia and BT Sport in the United Kingdom (UK) followed by Sony Pictures Sports Network (SPN) in India on Sony Six including its high-definition channel.
The Sony Pictures Sports Network (SPN) has fetched the contract for six-years following a broadcast deal in the Indian sub-continent which would further provide the live telecast in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in particular.
Moreover, in the United States of America (USA) and Canada Willow TV will telecast the traditional series followed by SuperSport in South Africa.
ABC is bound to provide ball-to-ball updates as a radio partner for the Magellan Ashes.
The matches could be streamed on SonyLIV.
Where can you get the tickets from:
You can visit Cricket Australia’s official website to grab the tickets against the minimum price of AUS$30.
Last Ashes Ten Test meetings in the head-to-head contest home/away:
England- 3, Australia- 7, Draw – 0
Last Five Test meetings with recent first against different oppositons:
Australia: W L L D L
England: W L W W W
Here’re the Squads of Australia and England for the Ashes 2017/18:
Australia’s 13-man squad for the Ashes 2017/18:
Steven Smith (C), Cameron Bancroft, David Warner, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine (Wk), Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Marsh, Jackson Bird, Chad Sayers
Joe Root, Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Mason Crane, Ben Foakes, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ben Stokes/Steven Finn, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes.
Tahir Ibn Manzoor
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