The oldest rivalry in international cricket history is set to resume with England and Australia locking horns in the first Test of The Ashes series in Birmingham on August 1. The Test match will also mark the beginning of World Test Championship, ICC’s dream project which had been in the pipeline for some time.
Australia are the holders of The Ashes urn after they won the last series at home 4-0 against England. The most famous trophy in the sport has been won by Australia 33 times while England are just behind with 32 and are looking like the favourites to reclaim it in September.
The Ashes series has been played a total of 70 times (346 Tests) with Australia winning a total of 144 matches as compared to England’s 108. 94 Tests have ended in draws.
Apart from a trophy, the winning team will get the urn which contains the mythical remains of England cricket. British newspaper, The Sporting Times, had famously said that English cricket had died and “the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia” after England lost the first Test at The Oval in 1882.
The very next year England captain Ivo Bligh vowed to “regain those ashes” and that is how fans and the media started calling it The Ashes series. The contents of the urn are reputed to be the ashes of a wooden bail, and were humorously described as “the ashes of Australian cricket”.
England are riding high on confidence before heading into the Ashes this year after just having being crowned world champions. Australia, who were knocked out by England in the semi-finals of the World Cup, will be looking to exact revenge albeit in the longest format.
Beating England in the first Test will be easier said than done though, with the hosts being unbeaten at Edgbaston in all three formats since 2014.
On top of that, three of Australia’s players – Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft – are making their return to the Test arena following the completion of their ball-tampering bans.
Fans who turn up at the stadium from August 1 are sure make life difficult for the tainted trio with England fast bowler Stuart Broad even sounding a warning by calling the Edgbaston crowd as “tasty”.
“Edgbaston will be tasty won’t it? I think you use it. I think they’d be wrong not to prepare and expect, certainly the Birmingham, Old Trafford and Headingley crowds to be quite lively.
“I’m sure the Barmy Army will make them (Smith and Warner) slightly nervous because they are an intimidating unit, but I don’t think it will affect their performances,” Broad told cricket.com.au.
All the matches would start at 3:30 PM IST and 11 AM BST (local time). The five Tests are spread over a total of 47 days. Here is the full schedule of the iconic series:
Aug 01 (Thu) – Aug 05 (Mon): England vs Australia 1st Test at Edgbaston, Birmingham
Aug 14 (Wed) – Aug 18 (Sun): England vs Australia 2nd Test at Lord’s, London
Aug 22 (Thu) – Aug 26 (Mon): England vs Australia 3rd Test at Headingley, Leeds
Sep 04 (Wed) – Sep 08 (Sun): England vs Australia 4th Test at Old Trafford, Manchester
Sep 12 (Thu) – Sep 16 (Mon): England vs Australia 5th Test at The Oval, London
England (first test): Joe Root (captain), Moeen Ali, Jimmy
Anderson, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Rory
Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jason Roy, Ben
Stokes, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes.
Australia: Tim Paine (captain), Cameron Bancroft, Pat
Cummins, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman
Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh,
Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith,
Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner.