When an Ashes series is just around the corner, we usually see both England and Australia get into test match mode early and really focus on the finer points of the game. However, the build-up to the series taking place this summer is very different, with the Cricket World Cup taking place before it. Both teams have many players who play in both ODI and test match formats for their country, and those players are going to prepare for the Ashes battle by hitting the ball far and wide in the World Cup; something that could turn the series into a match of who can hit the ball the best.
England go into the series looking to wrestle back the Urn from Australia after a disappointing 4-0 defeat down under in the 2017/18 edition. Home advantage does play a big part, though, especially in England, where conditions will suit the home side. With this series taking place slightly later than a normal Ashes series due to the World Cup, the final two games are in September, where it will be cool and overcast; perfect conditions for the England swing bowlers.
With that in mind, it is no surprise to see the home side as favourites to win the series. The latest cricket betting has them priced up as 3/4 favourites to win back The Urn from Australia. A big reason for that is, of course, the conditions, but with the likelihood of this series being decided by the bat, it is also a pointer to the fact that England’s batting lineup looks a lot more explosive than the one Australia will field, and they also bat deeper.
After impressing during early World Cup games, Jason Roy is throwing his hat into the ring to be England’s opening batsman in the Ashes. That would mean that he joins captain Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes as batsman or all-rounders who play in both codes for their country. That will be five options who all hopefully get into some kind of form during the World Cup, and five players who can score at a good enough pace for one day cricket; something they will be looking to take into the test match arena with them.
The beauty of having all of these important big hitters available is that England can play aggressively and hope that just two or three of them pay off. If that happens, then they more than make up for one or two being unlucky and getting out early. The speed in which they score is a big thing, and that is going to pose questions to the Australian bowlers and their captain Steve Smith. He will know that if two of these players get to the crease together and they take off for 20 overs, they will score well over 100 runs in that period, which could be a game changer.
Unlike normal years, preparation for the Ashes will not be undertaken in the conventional way, and that could well suit England’s big hitters as they look to regain the title this summer.