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How are England looking ahead of the Ashes?

In 2019 Tim Paine’s Australia arrived in England to defend The Ashes against an England side that had just conquered the world at T20 level. On December 8th Joe Root will lead his England side out in Brisbane looking to beat an Australian side still basking in the glory of their recent T20 World Cup win.

Can this England side become only the third English team to win in Brisbane since the Second World War? Will the famous little Urn return to English hands for the first time since 2015? Or, will Australia do what they always tend to do at home and hammer England? Read on to find out.

Will Australia's recent T20 success translate into Test victory over England

The Objective Odds

Subjectively we could make a very good case for England going to Australia and hammering the hosts 5-0. Conversely, we could make a good case for the Australians inflicting that level of misery on England.

The best place to look for a balanced and unbiased idea of what to expect is the betting odds, and they don’t make for good reading for England fans. According to the best aggregator odds, Australia are 1/3 favourites to win the series with England way out at 4/1.

In terms of Series score, Australia are backed at 9/2 to win 3-1, 6/1 4-1 and 7/1 for a 5-0 whitewash. The best odds for an England win of any kind come at 16/1 for a narrow 3-2 series win. In short there isn’t a bookmaker anywhere on the planet that gives England a cat in hells chance of winning this series.

If you fancy backing the underdogs you can learn more about the best cricket betting sites by reading this review. If you’re an optimist and the kind of person that pays no attention to the betting odds, read on to find out how England are shaping up ahead of that first test in Brisbane.

The Squad

Last month the ECB confirmed the squad of 18 players travelling to Australia for this summer’s Ashes series. The most high-profile name to drop out of the squad was leg-spinner Matt Parkinson who has instead travelled with the Lions squad.

The main squad in full reads as follows:

Joe Root, Jimmy Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Hasseb Hameed, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood.

Preparation

The main squad were due to begin their Ashes warm up with a three-day friendly against the Lions squad at Wellington Point. The game was seen as a great opportunity to assess the sharpness of Ben Stokes who returned from a four month break from all cricket taken to focus on his mental wellbeing.

Unfortunately the game fell to the weather with England sitting at 98-0 and Stokes unable to step up to the wicket with either bat or ball. The most recent Test experience that this England squad has had does not make for good reading.

Last time out against India at home the hosts lost by 157 runs, despite bowling their opponents out for 191 in the first innings. The series in general, which was won 2-1 by India, was characterised by barren spells of English bowling and catastrophic batting collapses.

If neither of those two areas improve by December, England could very well be destroyed by a rampant Steve Smith and Australia’s relentless bowlers.

Over the summer England’s batting line up looked as solid and steady as a house built on paper stilts.

The View from Australia

Whilst things look bleak for England at the moment, the situation for Australia isn’t much better. Despite their recent T20 World Cup victory the hosts are mired in yet another captaincy crisis.

Tim Paine who has been leading the side since the Steve Smith scandal stood down as Australian skipper in mid-November after emerging in a scandal of his own.

The 36-year-old took the decision to stand aside as captain and take a break from the game following the emergence of a historical investigation into sexually inappropriate texts he sent to a female colleague in 2017.

It is becoming a familiar sight to see teary eyed Australian captains apologising in front of the press

This news has obviously rocked Australian cricket and come at the wrong time in terms of preparation for The Ashes. Fast bowler Pat Cummins is the man who has been tasked with taking over from Paine as administrators clearly felt it would be wrong from a PR perspective to hand the captaincy back to the disgraced Steve Smith.

In terms of on the field action, Australia are also looking quite shaky with Covid-19 and Australian government restrictions meaning that their only Test experience in the past 12 months being a feisty three match series with India in December 2020.

The Ashes Verdict

So, can England go to Australia and beat the hosts? Well, probably not. Even with Australia being thrown into chaos in the wake of the Tim Paine scandal we just can’t see anything other than an Australia win.

This England team does not have the discipline either in batting or bowling to tour any of the top sides in the world and win. Let alone in Australia were the odds and the crowds will be heavily against them.

Oh well, at least there’s Christmas to look forward to anyway!