The cricket World Cup may have come to an end, but that does not mean that the cricket action is over. Far from it as Australia’s team have stayed on in England to participate in the biggest test series of the summer as they take on the hosts in a five-test battle to secure the famous Ashes.
This test series is one of the oldest in cricket history and it is also one of the hardest fought. Australia regained the trophy with a convincing 4-0 win over England on home soil back in the 2017/18 series in the Australian summer and Joe Root will know his England team, unbeaten in an Ashes series on home soil since 2001, now face a huge battle in order to win the coveted Ashes trophy back from their opponents from Down Under.
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The Ashes History
The phrase The Ashes was penned back in the 1892 series when England lost at The Oval to Australia and The Sporting Times reported the death of English cricket in a mock obituary. They stated that English cricket would be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.
In the very next series, England skipper Ivo Bligh stated he wanted to go and regain the ashes for English cricket, which he duly did and in the spirit of things, he was presented with an urn, with the cremated remains of a cricket ball or bails inside. So the Ashes was born and it is a phrase that has been used right the way through to the present day.
Historically, it is an even contest as the stats below will show.
Ashes Series Performance
- 70 Series played in total
- Australia lead with 33 wins
- England have 32 wins
- Only five series have ever finished in draws
Ashes Test Match Performances
- In total, there have been 330 Ashes Test Matches played over the years.
- Australia lead the way comfortably with 134 victories.
- England have won 106 Test Matches in comparison
- 90 Tests between the two teams have finished as a draw, although it is worth noting that the vast majority of these draws have taken place in England.
Ashes Record Breakers
- Sir Donald Bradman, the legendary Australian batsman, holds the record for the most runs ever in the Ashes series with 5,028.
- Australian spin bowling legend Shane Warne has the most wickets in Ashes series history with 195 wickets taken against England.
- The Aussies have whitewashed England 5-0 on three previous occasions, all on home soil, in 1920/21, 2006/07 and 2013/14.
- England have never managed to whitewash the Australian team but did manage a 5-1 victory in 1978/79 in Australia.
- Australia’s last win on English soil in an Ashes series came almost 20 years ago in 2001.
The Last Series
Last time in Australia, the hosts were entirely dominant in the series and put on a masterclass of batting to earn a comfortable 4-0 win in the series. England were comprehensively outplayed in the five tests, Australia winning the first three very comfortably as England’s bowlers toiled trying to get the batsmen out.
England only managed a draw in the fourth test thanks to a combination of a double century from Alistair Cook and rain stopping play on Day 4 which meant that even after declaring, the Australians didn’t have time to scuttle England out in their second innings.
The comprehensive wins in this series, one by ten wickets and two by an innings defeat, means England will have some tough questions to answer when the teams clash once again this summer.
Key Men for Each Team
England – Ben Stokes
Stokes missed the last series in Australia, but his ability with the bat and ball is going to be crucial to England this summer. England’s bowlers toiled against the Aussies last time out and Stoke, Archer and Anderson will likely be the main men to try and unsettle the Aussies batting line up. If they can do that, and Stokes can replicate his recent successes with the bat, then England could go well.
Australia – Mitchell Starc
The Australian pace bowler is the real threat in the Australian attack and his ability with the bat cannot be underestimated too. Starc always gets some useful runs down the order and he is very quick and in English conditions, especially in the late summer, he could be a real threat. If he takes wickets regularly as he did on home soil, Australia could have a very good summer indeed.
I think this series will be a very closely fought one and I can see a couple of test matches finishing in draws. I think the Aussies will get off to a strong start at Lords, as I fancy them to earn a draw at Edgbaston and a win at Lords, but I fancy England to bounce back immediately to win at Headingly.
Old Trafford could be the key test and my gut feeling is that this one will also be a draw, setting up a final one-test decider at The Oval, where I think Australia’s ability to handle the pressure will be enough for them to claim the win and with it, retain the Ashes.