Australia and England will face off in the 71st Ashes series starting tonight at 8:00PM AEST at Edgbaston Cricket Ground in Birmingham, England. It will be the first international test match that exiled Aussies Steve Smith, David Warner, and Cameron Bancroft have appeared in since the infamous ‘Sandpapergate’ scandal in Cape Town in March of last year. English media and fans intend to create a hellish atmosphere for the returning Australians, however, Australian captain Tim Paine seems unbothered by any hostilities. “It doesn’t affect us,” Paine said. “It doesn’t matter if we play at Edgbaston, the Gabba, or on the moon. We think our best cricket is good enough.”
Whilst each nation’s starting 11 will not be named until the toss later tonight, it has been reported that long-time spearhead Mitchell Starc will sensationally be overlooked in favour of Victorian quick James Pattinson who has not played test cricket in three years. Pattinson is set to join a bowling attack led by Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, and Nathan Lyon. Former wicket-keeper Matt Wade is tipped to be named in the side as a specialist batsman alongside returning trio Bancroft, Warner, and Smith, as well as Usman Khawaja and Travis Head.
A number of familiar faces are set to throw on the English jersey including fast-bowling pair Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad, as well as skipper Joe Root. Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali will also log a considerable amount of overs alongside Anderson and Broad. There are concerns about the lack of experience in Englands top order with Joe Root the only player in England’s top four who has more than seven test caps to their name. Rory Burns, Jason Roy, and Joe Denly will join Root at the top of the order with Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, and Jonny Bairstow following them.
Despite Australia coming away with a convincing 4-0 victory the last time these two nations faced off in the Ashes, England are the favourites to wrestle the urn back from their long-time rivals. Fans should expect another memorable encounter in this 137-year rivalry.