Ashes 2019: Batsmen up against mounting challenges of testing conditions, fearsome bowling as England and Australia renew rivalry

Crumbly batting lineups look set to be theme of Ashes 2019 because Australia's well-documented travails against moving ball combined with deployment of last year's bowler-friendly batch of Dukes' balls might have England's seamers licking their lips, their own batsmen might not be relishing the contest quite so much.

Charles Reynolds, Jul 31, 2019 08:36:01 IST

Haven't recovered from the drama of the World Cup yet? Well the schedule doesn't care because it's Ashes time. Hot on the heels of England's thrilling escapades in the final, comes the sport's longest-standing rivalry, and certainly for the two competing nations, the pinnacle of the Test cricket.

Six weeks, five Tests, sport's smallest trophy on the line — the most jam-packed summer of cricket England has ever seen is just getting started. First on the agenda is Edgbaston, a ground where Australia have failed to win in any format since 2001 — the thumping victory in that year's Test also part of the last time Australia won the Ashes on these shores.

Ashes 2019: Batsmen up against mounting challenges of testing conditions, fearsome bowling as England and Australia renew rivalry

Australian batsmen must find a way to keep James Anderson and Stuart Broad silent to have any hopes of winning Ashes 2019. AFP

While England have clearly enjoyed playing in Birmingham in recent years, it is a hoodoo that the tourists might well have high hopes of ending this week as they look to get their campaign to retain the Ashes up and running.

Australia will certainly be buoyed by the return of the entire 'sandpaper three', David Warner and Steve Smith, who were part of their World Cup plans, joined in the national squad by Cameron Bancroft for the first time since their Cape Town shenanigans. And while the latter comes in on the back of County Championship runs and a strong showing in the 'Australia v Australia' warmup game, it is the return of the former two which looks set to really bolster Australian hopes in the series, providing some much needed backbone to a batting lineup that has been all too flaky in their absence.

Crumbly batting lineups look set to be the theme of the series because Australia's well-documented travails against the moving ball combined with the deployment of last year's bowler-friendly batch of Dukes' balls might have England's seamers licking their lips, their own batsmen might not be relishing the contest quite so much.

England's top three has been an open wound of a problem for what feels like an eternity at this point, the team seemingly perennially 36/3 and then bailed out by their lower order. The latest man onto the openers' merry-go-round is Jason Roy, selected on the back of a stellar World Cup with the hope that he can translate that form into red-ball cricket. It is certainly a gamble, and one that England already seemed to be second-guessing, hinting in the build up to this game that Roy's long term future may well lie further down the order — hardly the biggest confidence boost to give to your newest opener.

His opening partner and Surrey teammate Rory Burns is also yet to really prove himself in England colours and is in need of a score to secure his long-term future, while Joe Denly, moved down to number four with Joe Root up to three, is another man who is yet to convince and needs runs to avoid the selectorial axe as well.

England's batsmen could scarcely be up against a harder task, such is the strength of Australia's bowling they look likely to leave out at least one of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood or Peter Siddle, with one of that trio joining the fearsome and certain to play duo of James Pattinson and Pat Cummins — who plays is a nice conundrum for the selectors to have to work out.

However with the ball in hand the hosts are hardly short of resources themselves, England's selection team also having some big decisions to make. James Anderson is back to full fitness, with Jofra Archer reportedly so as well, although the latter might well miss out with England reluctant to rush him back, not to mention play a match with two frontline bowlers potentially carrying slight injury niggles.

Even with Archer missing out, such is the strength of England's options that one of Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad and Sam Curran still won't make the final side. In short, things are not going to be easy for batsmen in this series.

Ultimately then that looks like being where the series will be won and lost. Can one batsman stand up over the course of five Tests and win it for his team? We don't have to wait long to find out.

Updated Date: Jul 31, 2019 08:36:01 IST






Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 3631 113
2 New Zealand 2547 111
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 3778 105
5 Australia 2640 98
6 Sri Lanka 3462 94
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6745 125
2 India 7071 122
3 New Zealand 4837 112
4 Australia 5543 111
5 South Africa 5193 110
6 Pakistan 4756 97
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 7365 283
2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4196 262
4 India 8099 261
5 Australia 5471 261
6 New Zealand 4056 254