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Ashes 2023: a way too early preview

Ashes urn
Ashes urn
©Reuters
 

English cricket is on a high after their T20 World Cup win over Pakistan means they are now the first International side to be double World Champions concurrently. Whilst Ben Stokes’ side is yet to replicate that success in recent years there is reason for optimism as the rebuild under Brendon McCullum is gaining traction. We’re still seven months out from England renewing their age-old rivalry with Australia in cricket’s most famous arena but there is still a lot to be positive about even at this early stage in the English camp’s preparations for the 2023 rendition of the Ashes. England will be hoping to dispel the bad memories of the woeful display in their most recent visit down under. Joe Root’s side were humbled in a 4-0 series defeat that was a big departure from the heroics of the immensely competitive and dramatic 2019 summer series. There has been a significant turnaround since those underwhelming performances; a clean sweep against an impressive New Zealand outfit and a fantastic win over India to level the delayed series are signs that England are on the way up. But can their journey back to the top of Test cricket align with an Ashes series in 2023 in which they will try to maintain their unbeaten record on home soil stretching back to 2001? Here’s our early preview of the 2023 Ashes series. 


Whilst it will be tempting for Stokes’ team to have one eye on the Ashes series next year, in the meantime he’ll be keeping his focus on the upcoming series in Pakistan. The three tests will be the first time England have played red-ball cricket in the country since 2005 and they’re coming off the back of some scintillating form this summer. The series against New Zealand was a hard reset and McCullum’s introduction could not have gone better. It was a fitting end to a 3-0 series win that may become a reference point in time. England’s first clean-sweep on home soil since 2011 was not simply about the scoreline and an end to the bleeding from their winter misery, but the manner in which it came about; it was exactly what the coach and captain had asked for from their players. England’s three successive run chases in excess of 275, the wins at Lord’s and Headingley coming after first-innings collapses say a fair bit about how the tides have changed in the English camp. The statement of intent was clear and rubber stamped with the immaculate run chase against India such a few days after the conclusion of the New Zealand series. They pulled off their fourth consecutive and highest successful chase in Test cricket as Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow completed sparkling unbeaten hundreds, making India's celebrated bowling attack look utterly bereft of ideas in near-perfect batting conditions. One more series win followed against South Africa, this time coming from behind to claim victory in the second test by a gargantuan innings and 85 runs, and finish the job emphatically with a nine wicket victory to claim a 2-1 win. Pakistan will be a tough challenge for Stoke and McCullum with Babar Azam’s men out for revenge after the devastating T20 World Cup final defeat, but you wouldn’t bet against the English turning up even if Pakistan themselves are chasing down a World Test Championship final appearance. The series will be a true litmus test of how far this England side are down the road of recovery and should they come away with a historic series win, it will cement the new regime’s legitimacy and further instill belief that Stokes’ team can upset the apple cart and turn over the Aussies once again. 


England are 4/1 to win the Ashes in 2023 according to the sites offering the best betting offers. If England are to do just that though they will need their very best to stand up and be counted. Before McCullum’s arrival England were plagued with a propensity to collapse at the crease, to put themselves in the ideal position only to squander what little opportunity there might have been of producing a result. To the great relief of many England fans, this is a habit they appear to have broken as of late. Joe Root all too often carried the innings with his remarkable calmness and unrivaled ability to turn 50s into 100s, and whilst he will need to do the same against the Australians he will need the support of the middle order. Jonny Bairstow rediscovered some of his best form in the summer just gone by, making light work of the most dangerous bowling attacks in the game and dispatching some of the world’s best to the boundary time and time again. Bairstow’s most entertaining innings of the summer came in the second LV= Insurance Test against New Zealand where he dominated proceedings in one of the most entertaining Test match innings ever. Bairstow was in ‘white-ball mode’ as he smashed 136 off just 92 balls including 14 fours and seven sixes to chase down 299 in 50 overs. He scored four fabulous hundreds and amassed 681 runs to earn himself MVP status this summer. He will have to be on top form again. Stokes also found himself in fine form and will be hoping to replicate some of that going forward into both the Pakistan and Ashes series. The new England captain has taken an aggressive approach to leading the side this summer and the results speak for themselves. Leading from the front with 368 runs and 18 wickets at an average of 25.7. With both bat and ball, the Aussies will consider him a danger man. Then there is the legendary pairing of Stuart Broad and James Anderson. In what could be their last ever Ashes series they will be looking to make their mark. With 566 wickets Broad now stands second only to his long-time new-ball partner Anderson among all Test seamers, having passed his idol Glenn McGrath on the list. Broad, along with Anderson, is among only seven bowlers to take 500 or more Test wickets. Time and time again the two have turned games on their head, most notably in Ashes series. Who could forget Broad’s legendary 8-15 at Trent Bridge in 2015 to clinch the famous urn. The hope is they will be able to remain fit ahead of the all-important showdown because if they are, England will be in a perfect position to regain the Ashes.