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HomeAshesPreview - 1st Ashes Test: Australia v England

Preview – 1st Ashes Test: Australia v England



Last Updated on 7 years by Charbel Coorey

The talk between the teams is over. It’s time for action.

Australia and England will lock horns once again, fighting it out for that coveted little urn. Steven Smith and Joe Root are two of the world’s best batsmen, and face arguably the biggest tests of their respective careers so far – leading out their teams in their first Ashes series as captains.

The build up to the Ashes has seemed like an eternity, with both teams having an eye towards this series for quite a while now. However, Australia and England enter the series still unsure of their best combinations, especially with the bat, and have made interesting selections. It all adds to the drama.

For Australia, there is uncertainty in their quest to protect their 29-year unbeaten run in Brisbane. The selections of Shaun Marsh and (especially) Tim Paine were big shocks. Since the announcement, there has been greater noise around England’s chances in the series. What ever happened to Australia’s youth policy? And to think that Ed Cowan, leading run scorer last season in Australian First-Class cricket, was left out for the younger Daniel Hughes for NSW. Yet, 34 year old Shaun Marsh, if passed fit, will return for the eighth time. Are Australia a little confused?

Australia face a few more issues with David Warner and Shaun Marsh facing injury concerns. Warner should play, and if Marsh doesn’t, the man who should have been playing – Glenn Maxwell, will slot back in.

Despite these issues, Australia start favourites with their strong home record, and the fact that England are also certainly without their own issues. Like a man who claims that he’s “found the one” every time he meets a woman, England have believed to have found the “one” who will partner Alastair Cook at the top of the order every time someone new has come onto the Test scene. Since the retirement of Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook has had 12 opening partners. Mark Stoneman was in good form in the tour matches, can he transfer it to the Tests? This question is in addition to another concern England face, which is the number three position, occupied by James Vince, who is yet to register a fifty in seven Tests.

Then you have Ben Stokes, who so well punched above his weight when England got smashed 5-0 last time in Australia. This time, he couldn’t wait till the Ashes to throw punches, and England will be desperately hoping he’ll be back this series. Plenty of pressure on the middle order and bowlers to perform.

Key to an Australia win

Will the four-bowler strategy work?
The key to an Australia win will be the performance of their three fast bowlers. Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Patrick Cummins are all in solid form, and will sure be ready to go on a bouncy Brisbane pitch against an unsure England top order. 
Hazlewood is consistent as ever, Starc is coming off two hat-tricks in the same game, and Pat Cummins looked very sharp in slow subcontinent conditions earlier in 2017. Can they repeat what Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle did in the last Ashes on Australian soil?
Slicing through England’s top order will not only help set them up for victory in the first Test, but also get in the minds of England’s key players ahead of a long series and make the life of debutant Cameron Bancroft a little easier.

Key to an England win

Strong performance from the top four.

Alastair Cook must step up this time. He’s only had the one huge Ashes series for England – his famous 766 runs in 2010/11. Incidentally, that’s the only series England has won in Australia since 1986-87, so Cook clearly has a big role to play.

A lot of uncertainty lies in the fact that the remaining two players in the top three, Stoneman and Vince, have played just 10 Tests between them, and have less-than-impressive Test records to date. If these two get off to a poor start, the pressure will mount even more on captain Joe Root.

The likes of Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali have been excellent performers in Test cricket recently, can help take advantage of any good platform left by the top order.

Predicted teams:

Australia have a few injury concerns, but they should be 1-11 as planned. Cameron Bancroft deservedly makes his debut, after really strong performances in domestic cricket recently.

Australia: 1 Cameron Bancroft, 2 David Warner, 3 Usman Khawaja, 4 Steven Smith (c), 5 Peter Handscomb, 6 Shaun Marsh, 7 Tim Paine (wk), 8 Mitchell Starc, 9 Patrick Cummins, 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Josh Hazlewood

Jake Ball has got the nod for England’s final pace bowling spot, and it will be fascinating to see what England’s bowlers can do with the Kookaburra. Could the extra seamer in England’s line up be an advantage?

England: 1 Alastair Cook, 2 Mark Stoneman, 3 James Vince, 4 Joe Root (c), 5 Dawid Malan, 6 Moeen Ali, 7 Jonny Bairstow (wk), 8 Chris Woakes, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 Jake Ball, 11 James Anderson

Stats & facts:

  • Australia haven’t lost a Test at the ‘Gabba’ in Brisbane for 29 years, and England haven’t won there since 1986.
  • England have won four of the last five Ashes series.
  • Australia and England have both won the Ashes 32 times. There have been 5 drawn series.
  • Alastair Cook scored 766 runs at 127.66 in the 2010/11 series. Outside of that series, he has scored 1,351 runs vs Australia at an average of just 27.57.
  • Steven Smith averages 68.65 in home Tests for Australia. As captain, he averages 69.02 in all Test matches.
  • James Anderson averages 38.44 in Australia, compared to his home average of 24.29.

It’s all set up for a very interesting Test match. Plenty has been said, and plenty has also been speculated about.

A 1-0 series lead for either team heading into the Adelaide Test will be very important. I predict Australia will maintain their Gabba record, and win the first Test off the back of a strong performance from their fast bowlers.


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Charbel Coorey
Charbel Coorey
Charbel is the owner & founder of, 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

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