First time in 131 years of history of Ashes, we are going to witness the series twice in a calendar year. The second leg of Ashes \u201913 commences on 21st November and the test campaign will entertain one and all till 7th January of the New Year. England, after the recent success of previous Ashes, are once again confident to retain the Ashes on Aussie soil as well. Australia, on the other hand, is also quietly confident largely due to home conditions and good ODI series against India in the subcontinent. The build-up to this series is already looking phenomenal and regardless of how the things go, we are certainly going to see a tremendous response to it.
The core of the visitors is almost the same as the one which won the Ashes a couple of months ago. England\u2019s campaign in international Cricket has been exceptional in the recent past. They were triumphant in Ashes and after that they were the runners-up in the last ever Champions Trophy where they lost to India in the final by a small margin.
There are a few changes in the team that arrived in Australia as compared to the one which played at home earlier in the year; however, we are likely to see almost the same final eleven coming out on the field. We might see a change in the opening combination with Michael Carberry opening the innings along with skipper Alastair Cook. If it happens to be true, Joe Root will drop to four-down with Jonny Bairstow missing out. Another likely change which we might see is Steven Finn making way for Boyd Rankin or Chris Tremlett, largely due to the bounce they can extract from the pitch.
The biggest positive England would derive is from the fact that they secured the home Ashes without any major contribution from Captain Cook. His previous outing in Australia was spectacular amassing a ton of runs which secured a 3-1 victory. If he comes even close to his best form, things are going to be tougher for the home team. This team seems to be well prepared for the series as the last of their tour practice games after they drew the first two games. This English side is certainly looking good on paper and has delivered the results at home, but can they challenge the Australians in Australia? Well, only time will tell.
Contrary to the visitors, the home team hasn\u2019t got the results going down their way and would need to step up to the challenge. They lost the earlier Ashes 3-0 and didn\u2019t do particularly well in Champions Trophy either. However, they played brilliantly well against India in the recently concluded ODI series where they lost 3-2. Earlier in the year, their batting was their biggest problem which seems to have settled now.
George Bailey, although a new-born in Test format, has played splendidly well in the shorter version of the game. His inclusion is likely to provide much needed solidity to the lower-middle order. James Faulkner showed his class with the bat and bowl displaying his potential as an all-rounder and how useful he can be at number 7. Shane Watson\u2019s hamstring problem would keep him from bowling long spells tempting Aussie think tank to go with an extra pace bowler. David Warner had a horrible outing in the previous Ashes series, but his recent run in Ryobi cup has brought him back to the Australian lineup. He almost scored a double century in a match with few good scores in other games as well. Johnson is looking in form of his life firing fireballs at over 90mph and making it hard for even the best in the business. The bowling looks good, but it\u2019s their batting which is going to matter. Michael Clarke had a good Ashes earlier and would look to match, if not improve on it. Steve Smith announced his entry in Test Cricket with aggressive intent and solid temperament and scored well in previous Ashes.
All in all, the new look Australian lineup looks more solid and better balanced than what we saw in England a few months back. With the knowledge of home conditions, things are definitely going to be interesting.
Previous Ashes was a one sided affair, but things were actually quite closer than the 3-0 score-line suggests. With home advantage in Australian court now, things are definitely going to get even. Going by the last test affair between the sides, England clearly seems to be the favorite, but things have changed since then. Australia is now having the home advantage and a stronger looking batting unit. England looks as stronger as they were back at home, but the home advantage is no longer with them. Both the teams look well-balanced on paper with the visitors looking a little better. The pitches in Australia will favor hit-the-deck bowlers much more than the swing bowlers and both the teams have them at their disposal. I expect Aussies to do better this time and tackle the potent England team. However, keeping everything in mind, England seems to be a better side than Australia.
Series Winner: England, 2.10 @ Bet365
In the last Ashes in Australia, England was triumphant 3-1. Current England skipper, Alastair Cook, scored heavily that time which shifted the ball in England's box. He scored three centuries, including a double at Gabba. He is a classy batsman and seems to like Australia. I think he will be the top scorer from England's squad in this Ashes.
Series Top Batsman - England: Alastair Cook, 4.00 @ William Hill