On Thursday, the oldest rivalry in cricket returns as England hosts arch-rival Australia in the first of five Test matches as the 2019 Ashes series opens for the 71st time, in a rivalry that stretches all the way back to 1861, according to CricInfo. Through the years, the two nations have been very closely matched, at least when it comes to winning the trophy. Australia has taken the silverware 33 times, with England triumphing in 32 Ashes series — meaning that wins in three of the five Tests — which are scheduled to extend from August 1 until September 16 — would bring England level with their rivals.
For England and Australia, beating the other has historically been enough, but for the first time, the 2019 Ashes will have more at stake than the bragging rights between the two British commonwealth nations. The August 1 opening day of the first Ashes Test will also mark the opening of the inaugural World Test Championship which, as ICC Cricket describes, will be a two-year, competition among the top nine Test nations, which will take place over 21 series and 71 Test matches.
The Ashes, which generally takes place every two years, is normally the biggest event of the season on both the England and Australia cricket calendars, but this year, the first Ashes test arrives with what ESPN called “indecent haste,” taking place a little more than two weeks after England’s dramatic victory in the Cricket World Cup, as The Inquisitr reported. This, perhaps, strips this year’s Ashes of at least some of its luster.
Be sure to watch a preview of the opening Ashes Test match between host England and visiting Australia at Edgbaston, in the video below, courtesy of CricBuzz.
Despite a top order that was utterly destroyed by Ireland — playing only its third-ever Test match, just one week ago at Lord’s, as CricInfo reported — England are expected to stick with their opening combination of Jason Roy and Rory Burns, according to Metro UK, with Captain Joe Root moving up the order from fourth the third.
They will need to deal with Australia’s fast bowling trio of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, and Pat Cummins, however, per The Stats Zone.
Australia also sees the return of Cameron Bancroft from a nine-month suspension after the South Africa ball-tampering scandal that also resulted in suspensions for opener David Warner and then-Captain Steve Smith. Warner and Bancroft are set to make their return to Test matches in the Ashes opener, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.