England vs Australia: Our Top Fantasy Picks for The Ashes

Earn the 'Urn' Credits: Evening Standard

England vs Australia; a cricketing rivalry that has never disappointed. Whenever these two sides clash, fans are treated to some high-voltage drama. The excitement doubles when it comes to The Ashes, as ace on-field performances along with some very entertaining sledging spice up the competition for the Holy Urn!

The Fixtures

The legendary Test Series, in its 71st edition now, begins at Edgbaston on Thursday. This is what the Ashes Calendar looks like:

Date  Venue
1-5 August, 2019 Edgbaston, Birmingham
14-18 August, 2019 Lord’s, London
22-26 August, 2019 Headingley, Leeds
4-8 September, 2019 Old Trafford, Manchester
12-16 September, 2019 The Oval, London


The Squads

After a lot of speculation that the England Cricket Management has been giving more importance to the Ashes than the World Cup, they have been successful in preserving the Test series in the English Summer. Keeping the English conditions in mind, the squads for both England & Australia have been selected and this is what they look like:

Team Australia: Tim Paine, Pat Cummins (vc), Travis Head, Cameron Bancroft, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Nasser, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner.

Team England: Joe Root, Ben Stokes(vc), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jason Roy, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes.

Pitch & Conditions

The warm English summer is here with just that hint of rain, making it perfect for bowlers. The moving ball will be a huge concern for both teams and the side with a better middle-order show will most likely ace the series. However, if previous Ashes Captains like Michael Vaughan, Alastair Cook & some greats of the Ashes like Glenn McGrath are to be believed, every match will have a result and this series is not going to see any draw unless the heavens open to interrupt proceedings.

Win Big this Ashes

Our Fantasy Picks: Playing 11 for The 1st Ashes Test

If recent reports are to be believed, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins & Josh Hazlewood will not be playing together in order to reportedly extend their cricketing careers. James Pattinson is guaranteed to play the opener at Edgbaston while Siddle looks in contention for the same. Mitchell Starc is likely to miss out, which makes Cummins the only guaranteed bowler to continue after the 2017-18 encounter.

Steve Smith(VC), David Warner, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Pat Cummins, Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes, Tim Paine, Stuart Broad, James Anderson(C).

For the bowling paradise at Birmingham, the ideal 11 would likely be the above, keeping in mind Steve Smith’s return to the Ashes after the infamous sandpaper incident.

Our Prediction for the 1st Test

Smith’s the only technically sound batsman that can take Anderson’s heavy swing & pace abilities. If he gets some support from Warner he might just be able to build a big inning announcing his return to the game for Australia. Also, Steve Smith has 8 centuries in the Ashes which makes him a strong contender as Captain in the 11.

With both teams having strong bowling line-ups & a fragile batting order, the batsmen that will hold their nerves would definitely take their teams over the line. We’re going with Joe Root’s men given the scare they’ve been given by Ireland recently, making them aware of the loopholes in their batting, and Chris Woakes’ current form with the ball.

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