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2021/22 Ashes Preview – What can England do down under?

England v India Lords Test 2021

Australia v England – The Ashes

It’s been a sensational year of cricket on the field in 2021, with the T20 World Cup, the inaugural Hundred 10 over tournament and some fascinating match ups against India among the highlights, but the most anticipated competition is still to come (at least for England and Australia fans) as The Ashes is back in Australia this winter.

The build up to the tournament however has been far less sensational. Covid and travel restrictions have continued to be problematic for all parties, whilst strong allegations of racist behaviour has ripped through Yorkshire and English cricket. Equality and diversity is being questioned throughout the game and will continue to dominate a lot of the headlines for the following years to come.

Australia have also been rocked by Tim Paine’s sexting scandal, resulting in the newly appointed captain stepping down just a few weeks before the first test. He replaced Steve Smith, who also stepped down due to ball tampering and the credibility of international cricket is under the microscope.

Yet the show continues to go on and both sets of players will be desperate to get out on the field and test themselves in the fiercest rivalry in cricket. It’s been an astonishing 10 years since England managed to win just one test match away from home in Australia, let alone a series as 4-0 and 5-0 drubbings have humiliated England during the last two away outings. England completely maxed out their calendar across all three formats of the game, including 12 test matches in total, winning just 4 of those 12. Depth throughout the formats is seemingly one of England’s strengths at present, but physical and mental fatigue could play a part with the gruelling task of battling against Australia over the winter ahead.

The Aussies however have hardly played any red ball cricket at all! Largely due to covid and travel restrictions, the squad will be looking to find some form quickly and could be caught cold if England are able to start strong and aggressive.

Squads

The match squads are likely to change throughout the series but the first test line ups have been announced for the crucial opener at The Gabba. Since Paine’s departure, the home sides 11 was largely predictable, with key members such as David Warner, Steven Smith, captain Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyan and Josh Hazlewood all included. Travis Head got the nod over Usman Khawaja in the middle order, whilst Alex Carey has come in behind the stumps. Marcus Harris will open with Warner and the Aussies will be feeling extremely confident, having not lost in Brisbane since the 1986-87 series.

The England line-up had some selection dilemma’s, which has included the exclusion of Jimmy Anderson, who is getting up to speed for the 2nd test. Burns and Hameed will have an incredibly important job opening for the visitors, with Malan, Root and the returning Stokes ready to play a vital role with the bat. Ollie Pope has made the team instead of the more experienced Jonny Bairstow, whilst arguably the best T20 batsmen in the world Jos Buttler will wicket for England.  With rain forecast, England are looking to capitalise with four quicks as Woakes, Robinson, Wood and Broad lead the charge.

England (2-2) Australia | 2019 Ashes

It feels like a lifetime ago, but England and Australia put on a real show back in the summer of 2019 as Australia more than deserved their draw to retain the Ashes.

1st Test | The away side got off to the perfect start with a win in Birmingham. Steve Smith put on a batting masterclass, aggressively scoring 144 & 142 in his two innings that never allowed England into the game. The hosts had a realistic chance to hang onto the draw at the start of the final day, but Nathan Lyon and Pat Cummins ripped through the order and left England needing to look into the mirror as they game was wrapped up by tea.

2nd Test | The expected Ashes drama was ramped up in the second test at Lord’s with Australia fending off the onslaught to grab a vital draw. It was neck and neck after the first innings, but with the majority of play over and rain delays throughout, it was going to take an aggressive approach to force a result. Up stepped Ben Stokes who ramped up the pace with a quick century, allowing England to declare with just 48 overs left in the final day. Australia at 5.6 an over could have won the match but three wickets in the first 14 overs pushed Australia back and gave England a strong sniff of a win. But the Southern Hemisphere rival kept their cool and batted their way to the draw.

3rd Test | Headingley hosted one of the all time test match classics with incredible highs and lows throughout the five days, resulting in a one wicket win by England to keep them in the running to win the Ashes. A dismal 67 runs were scored by England in their first innings with Australia setting a target of 359 across both innings. For England to somehow win this bizarre contest, they would need a record 4th innings run chase. Openers Roy and Burns went for a combined 15 and the inevitable embarrassment was staring the home side right in their faces. Root and Denley sparked revival however, with 126 runs scored before the man of the match in the previous test Ben Stokes, took the game to Australia once more. Still incredibly unlikely, Stokes and 11th man Leach needed 73 runs to win and with no wickets in hand, it was deemed impossible. But Leach stayed calm, scoring 1 run while at the other end, Stokes exploded and despite numerous opportunities for Australia to seal the win in the field, he held his nerve and secured an outstanding win.

4th Test | There was no heroics from Root or Stokes in this match at Old Trafford as Australia dominated from the off, ensuring that the urn would be back down under once again. A double century in the first innings from who else but Steve Smith put Australia significantly in the driving seat and they never looked back.

5th Test | The Oval held the final match of the the 2019 Ashes and England played confidently to ensure the series ended in a draw. Jofra Archer’s relentless pace secured key wickets across the five days, resulting in a player of the match award in his first Ashes series. Steve Smith, with an sparkling 774 runs across the tournament won the player of the series and Australia avoided defeat in Britain for the first time since 2001.

Australia (4-0) England | 2017/18 Ashes

England were dispatched with ease during the 2017/18 Ashes in Australia, often dominating early in matches with the bat to force England to try and play to survive. Outside of the fourth test match in Melbourne, where England scored 491 to earn a draw, there was very little positives to take. England will be desperate to ensure that they get a win on the board early in 2021/22 to give themselves a chance of winning.

England Fixtures this Summer

The Summer of 2022 brings lot’s of great international cricket. For a chance to watch England in style this summer, please enquire through the links below.

2022 England v India ODI Series

2022 England v India T20 Series

2022 England v New Zealand Test Series

2022 England v South Africa – ODI Series

2022 England v South Africa – Test Series

2022 England v South Africa – T20 Series