Ashes preview 2023

By Peter Moore

Friday will see the start of the eagerly awaited Ashes series when England lock horns with Australia in the first test at Edgbaston.

Australia wiped the floor with England down under 18 months ago and go into the series on the back of being crowned World Test Champions.

Australia possesses the world’s number one test batter in Marnus Labuschagne and the ever-reliable Steve Smith.

Under Pat Cummins Australia have a potent pace attack that includes the experienced Josh Hazlewood and Mitychell Starc along with off spinner Nathan Lyon.

Scott Boland- who tormented England during the 4-0 hammering in 2021/22 by taking seven wickets on debut at the MCG, including taking 6-7 in the second innings along with seven more at Sydney is an ideal choice for the Aussies to back up Hazlewood who comes into this Ashes series struggling with fitness.

However, the odds may slightly be tipped towards England to regain the ashes with the stat that no Australian side has succeeded in winning an Ashes series in England for 22 years.

Both David Warner and Usman Khawaja have poor records in England, but on their day both can prove to be match winners.

England’s plans were thrown into disarray with spinner Jack Leach ruled out of the series with a back stress fracture. He has been replaced by Moenn Ali, who had previously retired from Test cricket.

Ali went on record stating that he no longer wanted to play international red ball cricket and instead concentrate on the white ball version of the game.

His selection has caused a fair amount of debate around the cricketing world as to whether he should have been picked or not.

Going in to a series without a main front line spinner is a big handicap, it will remain to be seen if Mooen answering a SOS call will be the right decision or not, considering he hasn’t a good record with the ball against Australia.

Another selection for the hosts that has caused a huge talking point is the decision not to pick the best keeper in the land Ben Foakes. Again, the selectors are backing Jonny Bairstow after his remarkable summer of 2022, mainly helped by his Bazball approach which the England management have encouraged this side to play.

His middle order replacement Harry Brook will be playing his first Ashes series after averaging a shade over 80 in his previous six Tests, including four centuries.

The home sides attack will once again be led by the ever-reliable Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad, but with no Jofra Archer available it will be down to the likes of Ollie Robinson, Matthew Potts, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood and newcomer Josh Tongue who impressed in his debut test against Ireland to pose a threat to Australia.

The concern for the England management will be can the quick bowlers remain fit for what is going to be a very hard thought series.

Only time will tell. But for now, let battle commence on Friday for what promises to be a fascinating few weeks ahead.