Aus vs Eng, Ashes 2021-22: Australia lead by 33-32 in Ashes series and 146-110 in Test wins
Pat Cummins appointed as Australia's 47th Test captain, first bowler to captain Australia after the great Richie Benaud in 1964.
“There is Test Cricket, And There is Ashes Cricket.”
Those few words from the England Test captain, Joe Root, in a documentary that the England and Wales Cricket board had published a week before the Ashes opener in Brisbane sums up pretty well where this rivalry stands in the scheme of things. For any player, Test Cricket is the pinnacle of the game but for these two nations, England and Australia, Ashes is the ultimate challenge.
What is an Ashes to an English and Australian Player
Any English player will be kidding if he says he doesn’t love the atmosphere of a Day 1 Ashes Test standing on the long on fence; vice versa for the Australian players. The careers of those players gets remembered based on their performance in an Ashes Test match; no matter how many wickets you have taken or how many truckloads of runs have come from your willow, the binoculars will be on you in these Ashes Tests.
It is not the normal circumstances before a buildup to the Ashes as most of the English Test players apart from those participating in the T20 World Cup, have arrived in Australia almost a month ago and have gone through the quarantines and few practice games. However, those have been spoiled by the foul Brisbane weather.
But still there is some news that English off-spinner, Jack Leach going into a restaurant was sledged by some people; that somehow paints that playing against Australia is tough, it’s not being against 11 players on the field but against the whole country. And the England players should fasten their seatbelts to cope up with the away fans especially after what Barmy Army did with Steve Smith and David Warner in 2019.
The Even-Stevens Stats in Ashes Tests
To go by the stats of the greatest rivalry, one can realize this series always remains on the knife’s edge.
Till the last Ashes in 2019, Australia hold the upper hand having won it on 33 occasions compared to England’s 32. So, the English will eye in the 2021-22 series to even the scorecard.
The series scoreline might look close but for an English fan or player, one doesn’t have memorable days on the soil of Australia winning just four Tests this century of which three came in the 2010-11 Ashes. Overall, England have registered 108 victories, 28 less than Australia. But, since that fabulous 2005 Ashes, England have a 5-3 lead over Australia.
Read More: Ind vs NZ Test Series 2021-22 Records: Ajaz's 14 wicket-haul best figures for any visiting bowler
Story of the recent Ashes
That 2010-11 Ashes that England won was because of their batting and it was in those past days when veteran England pacer, Stuart Broad had insisted on scoring huge totals to win away Ashes which was possible thanks to Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Andrew Strauss, Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott and Matt Prior.
On their next tour in 2013-2014, they had been blown away by a brute force named Mitchell Johnson. Their highest score in that Ashes was 353 compared to 570-9 for Australia.
“In England, if you get 300 in your first innings against the Duke’s ball, you will win most of your games,” former England captain Naseer Hussain said.
“But if it’s your normal Australian conditions, if you get 300 in your first innings, you will lose more games than you win,” he added stressing the importance of scoring big runs down under.
In the last Ashes opener in Brisbane, England were going well but suddenly when they lost James Vince, they could only manage 302 and ended up losing the game by 10 wickets.
Yes, the fact is their captain has scored bulk of the runs for them during the last summer and winter in tough sub-continent conditions but it’s not about one man; one has to keep an eye on Ben Stokes, who hasn’t played top-class cricket since June due to mental health issues.
They can’t always take their side to a huge score single-handedly; others need to contribute. They were hammered on their 2017-18 tour too which means the players won’t have good memories of the place.
In case of bowling, if the cloud becomes a friend of games, England players will have smiles on their faces with James Anderson and Stuart Broad asking so many questions. But they have to be smart enough to balance the physical health of the bowlers and choose the right battle to recharge them. Spin will surely play a trick which means Jack Leach has to be in the side.
The Exchange of Australian Captaincy Hat
On the eve of the Ashes, Australia’s captain Tim Paine stunned the cricketing world by stepping down from leadership duties following an off-field scandal where he sent explicit texts to a female co-worker at Cricket Tasmania in 2017. The Australian wicketkeeper batter went on to take an indefinite mental health break couple of days later.
Pat Cummins appeared to be the obvious choice to wear the captaincy hat at that moment and he was officially anointed skipper with former captain Steve Smith being appointed his deputy. The old Australia players were not too amused with Smith being the vice-captain and most of them penned down their thoughts in their columns.
It is not going to be easy for Pat Cummins to bowl a six-over spell and also set a field for other bowlers. What if he gets injured in a 5-match Test series? That’s where he will be requiring the smart head of Smith during a game.
“This is an unexpected privilege which I am grateful for and am very much looking forward to,” said the 47th Australian captain.
What can be Expected from the Ashes
England will surely want to repeat their heroics of 2010-11 but they have to be brave in doing so.
“Of course, it will define my captaincy, I’m not naive enough to think it won’t,” said England captain Joe Root ahead of the Brisbane Test.
Australia will be favorites to win the Ashes but look out for England if the weather stays in a bad mood. The visitors will have to find a way to get rid of Steve Smith who has scored 774, 687 and 508 runs in the last three Ashes series.
Could they find a way? Well, January 8, 2022 will have the answer.
Australia’s confirmed XI for Brisbane Test
David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins (c), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood
England’s probable XI for Brisbane Test
Haseeb Hameed, Rory Burns, Zak Crawley/Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root (c), Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (wk), Ollie Pope, Stuart Broad, Ollie Robinson, Mark Wood, Jack Leach
Read More: Ind vs NZ, 2nd Test, Day 4, Mumbai: India now top-ranked Test team after defeating NZ by 372 runs