The Ashes series preview: Everything you need to know

Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc AshesPat Cummins and Mitchell Starc.

England and Australia will contest the latest Ashes series this month and the next. It is one of the oldest rivalries in Test cricket – and we have all you need to know about this fabled series.

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When is the Ashes?

The 2023 Ashes series will be played from 16 June to 31 July. Each Test is never split by more than nine days. The shortest gap of four days is between the second and third Test. The longest gap of nine days is between the fourth and fifth. That is, of course, if each match lasts the scheduled five days.

Ashes dates

  • First Test: 16 to 20 June 2023
  • Second Test: 28 June to 2 July 2023
  • Third Test: 6 to 10 July 2023
  • Fourth Test: 19 to 23 July 2023
  • Fifth Test: 27 to 31 July 2023

Where is the Ashes?

Ashes series alternate between countries. This year, the Ashes is in England. Edgbaston in Birmingham will host the series opener. The fifth and final Test will be played at The Oval in London. Interestingly, the England and Wales Cricket Board afforded Headingley in Leeds an Ashes Test ahead of Trent Bridge in Nottingham this time.

Ashes venues

  • First Test: Edgbaston, Birmingham
  • Second Test: Lord’s, London
  • Third Test: Headingley, Leeds
  • Fourth Test: Old Trafford, Manchester
  • Fifth Test: The Oval, London

Who are the current Ashes title holders?

Australia are the reigning Ashes title holders. The hosts won the 2021-22 series four-nil. England lost in Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne before a draw in Sydney and another win for Australia in Hobart. There have been 72 Ashes series since the first in 1882. Australia have won 34 series and England 32, with six draws.

When last did England win the Ashes?

England last won the Ashes series in 2015. The hosts won the five-match series three-two. Joe Root and Stuart Broad were England’s top run-scorer and wicket-taker, respectively, in that series.

Who are the Ashes favourites this time?

Australia and England currently occupy second and third position, respectively, in the International Cricket Council’s Test rankings. England will have home advantage for this Ashes series – and relatively dynamic leadership in head coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes. Australia have not won an Ashes series in England since 2001.

Ashes squads

England Ashes squad

England have named a 15-man squad for the first two Ashes Tests. Jonny Bairstow has effectively been preferred to Ben Foakes. It will be interesting to see if Josh Tongue plays ahead of Chris Woakes again.

  1. Ben Stokes (captain)
  2. Ollie Pope
  3. Jonny Bairstow
  4. Joe Root
  5. James Anderson
  6. Stuart Broad
  7. Harry Brook
  8. Ben Duckett
  9. Zak Crawley
  10. Matthew Potts
  11. Ollie Robinson
  12. Dan Lawrence
  13. Chris Woakes
  14. Mark Wood
  15. Josh Tongue

Australia Ashes squad

Australia have named a 17-man Ashes squad, which includes wicketkeeper-batsman Josh Inglis, who has not been capped at Test level. Batsman David Warner, who will likely retire from Test cricket soon, has also been included.

  1. Pat Cummins (captain)
  2. Scott Boland
  3. Alex Carey
  4. Cameron Green
  5. Marcus Harris
  6. Josh Hazlewood
  7. Travis Head
  8. Josh Inglis
  9. Usman Khawaja
  10. Marnus Labuschagne
  11. Nathan Lyon
  12. Mitchell Marsh
  13. Todd Murphy
  14. Matthew Renshaw
  15. Steve Smith
  16. Mitchell Starc
  17. David Warner

Ashes injury and fitness updates

England have lost spinner Jack Leach for the entire 2023 Ashes series. He has been sidelined by a back injury sustained during early June’s one-off Test against Ireland. England have drawn spinning all-rounder Moeen Ali out of Test retirement to replace Leach.

Ben Stokes became the first captain to win a Test without batting, bowling or keeping wicket recently. He has quashed concerns about bowling fitness, after being deployed with the ball relatively sparingly by England and others recently.

England have been cautious with James Anderson and Ollie Robinson. They were rested for the one-off Test against Ireland. Both are expected to be fully fit and available for the opening Ashes Test at Edgbaston.

Australia are looking forward to the full fitness of fast bowler Josh Hazlewood, who has all but recovered from a side strain sustained while playing for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the 2023 Indian Premier League.

3 Ashes stars to watch from each team

Each team has several world-beaters. Here are three from each, in particular.

England Ashes players

1. Joe Root

Root won’t have the England captaincy in an Ashes series for the first time since 2015. Let’s see if the removal of the responsibility empowers or limits his primary role with the bat. With Leach sidelined, Root could have more of a role to play with the ball as well.

2. Josh Tongue

Tongue, alongside team-mate Mark Wood and Australian duo Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, will be among the fastest bowlers showcased in this Ashes series. If selected ahead of Woakes again, Tongue might open the bowling with Anderson, with Broad to bowl first change.

3. Zak  Crawley

Crawley is averaging a mere 28.26 after 63 Test innings, but continues to collect support from McCullum and Stokes, and will likely open the batting alongside the in-form Ben Duckett. Unless Bairstow is pushed up the order, England don’t have another specialist batsman in the squad.

Australia Ashes players

1. Cameron Green

Green will come into this Ashes series on the back of a stint with the Mumbai Indians in the 2023 IPL. But as former Australia Test captain and IPL veteran Shane Watson knows, the transition from franchise T20 to international Test cricket can be “extreme”.

2. Marnus Labuschagne

Labuschagne and team-mate Steven Smith prepared for the Ashes series via respective stints with Glamorgan and Sussex in the English County Championship. Labuschagne hit 65 and 170 not out against Yorkshire at Headingley – the venue for the third 2023 Ashes series Test.

3. Todd Murphy

Murphy took seven wickets on Test debut against India in Nagpur earlier this year. It’s improbable he will feature in the same Ashes XI as fellow spinner Nathan Lyon. If selected alongside or instead of Lyon, though, Murphy should enjoy the challenge of bowling in less spin-friendly conditions.

Ashes captains – Pat Cummins v Ben Stokes

This Ashes series will present several battles within the war. Cummins v Stokes might be among the most intriguing. Cummins has brought a relatively relaxed approach during the series build-up, preferring to be “slightly underdone than overdone”.

Stokes, meanwhile, is in the throes of the fast-paced, attacking ‘Bazball’ era. Cummins will go into the Ashes series opener on the back of a challenging World Test Championship final against India, while Stokes will only have a three-day finish against Ireland to go on.

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