Oh, the Ashes.
It’s really the pinnacle of Test cricket, as far as I am concerned. Five Tests, Australia v England. A rivalry that dates back to 1882, when Australia first beat England in a Test match on English soil and The Sporting Times declared that English cricket had died, and “the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.” The following year England went to Australia in an attempt to regain the Ashes.
And the rest is history. To date, the two sides have played 330 Ashes Test matches. Australia have won 134, England 106, and there have been 90 draws. At the series level, Australia have won 33, England 32, and there have been 5 draws. And so if England can beat Australia this summer, they will draw level with Australia in Ashes series victories, something that would have been damn near unthinkable back in, say, 2003.
Australia are the current holders of the trophy, having dismantled England 4-0 during the winter of 2017-18 in Australia. But things are a little different now. First of all, there’s the fact that Australia has not won an Ashes series in England since the summer of 2001 — winning the 5th Test at the Oval in London two weeks before the towers fell — and furthermore England have just come off a 3-0 whitewash of Sri Lanka, while Australia just crumbled to a series loss to India on their home soil for the first time. And Australia aren’t just a shambles on the field, their clubhouse and front office are a bit in disarray too. And, finally, the last blow to the Aussies: they only have one final Test series before this summer: two tests against Sri Lanka at home. While England have three Tests against the West Indies.
Advantage, in almost every aspect: England.
But this is cricket — Test cricket. And this is the Ashes. And this is Australia. And this is England. And Australia will have Steve Smith and David Warner back from their ball tampering bans. And England will have already had a long hard slog of a summer by the time the coin is flipped for the first Ashes test on 1 Aug. at Edgbaston.
I could see it going either way. Right now I am thinking 2-1 to England. But literally any other result could happen and I would not be too surprised. 5-0 Australia? 3-2 England? Series drawn? I wouldn’t bat an eye to any of those outcomes.
The good news for people in the states is that all five matches of the series are available on Willow.TV.
Here’s the rundown:
1 Aug.: Edgbaston, Birmingham
14 Aug.: Lord’s, London
22 Aug.: Headingley, Leeds
4 Sept.: Old Trafford, Manchester (no, not that Old Trafford, soccer fans)
12 Sept.: Kennington Oval, London
Savor these matches. Drink them in. They are the pinnacle of what cricket has to offer.
Well, they are the pinnacle until we get the Pakistan v India Test series that we all deserve.