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5 Ashes 2019 Predictions: Who will step up in the Ashes?

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Last Updated on 5 years by Charbel Coorey

5 Ashes 2019 Predictions: Who will step up in the Ashes? Key players to watch out for in Ashes 2019

Test Cricket’s pinnacle event – The Ashes – is about to kick off for the 71st time since its inception in 1882.

This series is a difficult one to predict. After all, contests over the span of 137 years has Australia just ahead 33-32 in the head-to-head battle. Here, despite the home side enjoying success in an Ashes series on every occasion except one (2010/11) since 2001, both sides have reasons for and against lifting the coveted urn by the end of the five Tests.

I will explore each side’s strengths and weaknesses. Also, below are my five predictions for the big Test series, after thinking long and hard as to what might happen.

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1. Leading run-scorer: Steve Smith (Australia)

There are a few contenders for this one. With both sides fragile in the batting department, much could rest on the big guns to deliver the goods in low-scoring battles.

Steve Smith finally returns to the Test format. 16 months since his last Test, Smith exited the game comfortably placed in the top three Test batsmen in the world, fresh off a very prolific 2017/18 Ashes campaign.

Here, he will be faced with a less-than-warm reception from the England crowds. Plenty of boos. Maybe even some more dressed in sandpaper. While this can be a distraction, it will only spur Smith on, coupled with his ability to bat for long periods that gives him an edge over other batsmen struggling to adjust after a big dose of white-ball cricket.

However, a concern for me is how Smith plays the seaming ball, given he opens up quite a bit to the ball moving away. But, he has enough fight in him to overcome periods of pressure. Also, a characteristic of seaming pitches is that there are good conditions for batting in the Test after the track settles, and it is in these instances where Smith’s hunger for runs can hold he and Australia in good stead. His patience is what could get him to outscore another leading contender in Joe Root, who continues to have an LBW issue. David Warner is also one to watch out for, but how he too handles the moving ball early will be key.

Also read: Three players who were unlucky to miss out on Australia’s Ashes squad

5 Ashes 2019 Predictions: Who will step up in the Ashes? Key players to watch out for in Ashes 2019. Who will win the Ashes? Who will win Ashes 2019?
5 Ashes 2019 Predictions: Steve Smith will be out for a big series.

Leading wicket-taker: Jofra Archer (England)

Another very difficult pick. This is especially so given both sides will have to make adjustments and tough calls to cater for their best possible attacks, with a number of talented bowlers on show.

Australia possess Pat Cummins, the leading wicket-taker from the last Ashes. However, it remains to be seen if he can get the big wickets to go with his consistent bowling. The same applies to Nathan Lyon in more seamer-friendly conditions. Also, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc could have a say, but the former has been a bit short on cricket lately and the latter is not as prolific in red-ball cricket. This could open the door for the excellent James Pattinson, but will he get five Tests under his belt?

Then, onto England. Possessing a number of prolific bowlers in home conditions, England will be tough to handle throughout the series. James Anderson is a massive contender for leading wicket-taker, but his calf injury is a concern that might stop him from playing all five Tests as England might look to manage him. So too are Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes, who recently dismantled Ireland for 38 when hopes of a stunning Test upset were on the cards.

Jofra Archer is my pick. It is a bold call given that he has never played a Test (and misses the first), but the red-ball format is arguably his best – he has taken 131 wickets in 28 First Class matches at just 23.44. His pace and wicket-taking ability could be a key difference in this series, giving England a key dimension in their quest to regain the Ashes.

5 Ashes 2019 Predictions: Jofra Archer will be a big threat this series.

3. England will have to find another opening batting combination

Who would partner Alastair Cook was a big topic of conversation when Andrew Strauss retired in 2012. With Cook retired, both opening spots are now up for debate.

Jason Roy and Rory Burns became England’s 16th opening combination when they were picked to take the field in the recent Test against Ireland. However, evidence from that Test – as well as their careers – give the impression that England’s search for the perfect partnership will continue (P.S. this goes beyond number 11 Jack Leach showing everyone up).

Jason Roy pushes very hard at the ball well in front of his body. This is dangerous against the moving ball. His constant desire for bat on ball is an opportunity for the Australian new ball bowlers to exploit with early movement. Also, Rory Burns’ technique has come under scrutiny, with Michael Holding claiming on commentary that he is not sure if Burns has the technique to cut it at Test level. A candidate for LBW and caught behind, Burns needs to avoid getting his front pad too far across to off-stump too soon, as well as defending deliveries wide outside off-stump.

These technical problems create doubts over England’s openers to provide good starts. I believe England will be forced to try a new opening combination throughout the series.

5 Ashes 2019 Predictions: Who will step up in the Ashes? Key players to watch out for in Ashes 2019. Who will win the Ashes? Who will win Ashes 2019?
5 Ashes 2019 Predictions: England are still searching for their perfect opening combination.

4. There won’t be a drawn match

Barring persistent rain that washes out two or three days, it is very difficult to see how any Test will finish in a draw. The pitch would have to be extremely flat; and even then, both teams’ bowling is stronger than their batting. Indeed, the biggest factor is the disappointing tendency for batsmen to hit out instead of fighting it out in challenging periods, offering the opportunity for wickets.

I expect every Test to have a result, as was the case in 2015, with low-scoring matches a key theme throughout the series.

5 Ashes 2019 Predictions: Who will step up in the Ashes? Key players to watch out for in Ashes 2019. Who will win the Ashes? Who will win Ashes 2019?
5 Ashes 2019 Predictions: The 2015 series had a result in each Test.

5. Series result: England 3-2 Australia

Another tough prediction. Do I go with head or heart? Can this Australian side become the first since 2001 to win an Ashes series in England? Sure, there have been better Australian sides who have been unsuccessful, but those were against better England sides, too. In the end, though, I think England at home will just edge it out.

This is not to say Australia don’t have their advantages. I think their top three is superior to England’s, and this is where they can get ahead. However, England’s middle order, which includes the likes of Ben Stokes (contender for man of the series) and Jos Buttler (and Sam Curran if they choose) has an edge over Australia’s. If Jonny Bairstow can’t find his Test groove, then England have the impressive Ben Foakes to call on. The bowling attacks are also close on paper, but in English conditions, England start as favourites due to their experience, know-how and the Jofra factor.

I don’t think it will be a blowout. I think it will finish 3-2 either way, but am leaning towards England. Australia’s top three, while better than England’s on paper, is still vulnerable against the moving ball. Indeed, so is England’s, but their middle-lower order can bail them out of trouble a little better than Australia’s can.

This could ultimately prove vital in the final analysis.

Also read: Have a Cricket Blog or looking to start one? Check out my Cricket Blogging Tips!

Thanks for reading!

Charbel Coorey
Charbel Cooreyhttps://cricblog.net
Charbel is the owner & founder of cricblog.net, based in Sydney, Australia. He started the website to fulfill his love for the game of cricket. Charbel has also been featured on other publications including OP India, Times of India, and The Roar, among others. For any story tips or questions, you can contact Charbel at charbelcoorey@cricblog.net.

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