With Australia touring England, it will mark the 71st Ashes series to be played between the two historic rivals. The series which began in 1883 and has been played for 134 years, will be back in its traditional five-Test format. To be played at Edgbaston, Lord's, Headingley, Old Trafford, and The Oval, England will be eager to regain the Ashes following Australia's triumph at home in 2017-18. On the other side, Australia would hope to become the first visiting team to win an Ashes since England beat them in 2010-11. At the same time, Tim Paine-captained Australia would want to end their 18-year drought of clinching the Ashes in England.
Away from the plenty of traditions being maintained, there are quite a few 'new' things for the upcoming Ashes. It suggests a change in climate for cricket and an ever-evolving nature of the sport.
Start of the ICC World Test Championship
The gripe with previous Test cricket model was that not all teams were playing each other or not enough. Additionally, the biggest concern was to give each match some context. Enter, World Test Championship. The WTC will witness the top nine Test teams in the world compete in 71 Test matches across 27 series and will be played over two years.
It all gets underway on 1 August. Ashes, like any other Test series, counts for 120 points with 24 points for each match. A tie will mean shared points between England and Australia and a draw would mean 8 points each.
Player names and numbers on shirts
For the longest time, Test kits were all-white. That would end with the start of the Test Championship. With cricket moving into a new direction and in gathering the shortened attention spans, the ICC wants to make players more easily identifiable to encourage engagement in Test cricket. Numbers and names have long been used in shorter formats.
In 2001, England introduced debut cap number under the Three Lions crest, since then other teams followed suit.
The advent of coloured shirts with player names began at the 1992 World Cup, while squad numbers were added for the 1999 tournament.
The decision to implement concussion substitutes was taken during the ICC Annual Conference earlier in the month. The rule has been applied to international cricket following a two-year trial period which involved usage of substitutes in domestic cricket.
"Decisions on replacements will continue to be made by the team medical representative and the player should be a like-for-like replacement who will need to be approved by the Match Referee," the ICC had said in a statement.
The debate had begun after the fatal bouncer to Australia opener Philip Hughes in 2014. He was taken to hospital but couldn't survive the blow in the Sheffield Shield match. Cricket Australia (CA) had introduced concussion substitutes in their domestic tournaments and the Big Bash League from the 2016-17 season.
Points to be docked for slow over-rate
Slow over rates will have larger bearing now than before. Earlier, captains ran the risk of being fined and subsequently collecting demerit points for slow over rates. Now, ICC will dock points and fine the entire side for any violations.
“In World Test Championship matches, a team that is behind the required over-rate at the end of a match will have two competition points deducted for each over it is behind,” the ICC said in a statement.
“Captains will no longer be suspended for repeated or serious over-rate breaches. All players should be held equally responsible for slow over-rates, and as such will be fined at the same level as the captain,” the ICC stated.