Ashes England and Australia ready to pen next chapter

Much has happened in the two years since Australia last visited England, with the Ashes ready to rip up both team's plans all over again.

  • Published:
England and Australia ready to pen next Ashes chapter play

England and Australia ready to pen next Ashes chapter

(Omni Sports)
24/7 Live - Subscribe to the Pulse Newsletter!

In these buzzword times of "brands of cricket" and "momentum" it perhaps jars slightly that England and Australia will begin their latest Ashes joust at a Test venue most closely associated with the batting exploits of James Anderson and Monty Panesar.

Cardiff hosted the first match of the 2009 series, which culminated with England's number 10 and 11 repelling the Australian attack for a fingernail-shredding final 40 minutes. Such attritional, stonewalling cricket has not been on the agenda for either of the old rivals for a while.

Two years ago, England won a third consecutive Ashes series 3-0 against an Australia side who arrived in virtual open mutiny, replaced embattled coach Mickey Arthur with Darren Lehmann as the first Test hovered on the horizon and recovered their poise too late to challenge for the urn.

But the green shoots of Australian recovery would cause the ground to crumble beneath English feet Down Under a few months later, as back-to-back Ashes disagreed with Alastair Cook's men to the tune of a 5-0 mauling.

Led by Lehmann and Michael Clarke's easy authority and spearheaded by the rejuvenated wrecking ball Mitchell Johnson, Australia suddenly appeared to have the foundations for a period of dominance worthy of comparison with their great sides.

They made good on these aspirations with a pulsating 2013-14 series win in South Africa, while an Australian summer framed by the heartbreaking tragedy of Phillip Hughes' death last November ended with Clarke - a close friend of the late batsman - lifting the World Cup on home soil; a nation united in grief became united in triumph.

While Australia were scribing an historic chapter, England appeared determined to soil the remanence of their own golden era.

Andy Flower - the coach who led them to three series wins over the Aussies and a number one world ranking - stepped down; Kevin Pietersen turned from superstar batsman to the star of his own exile soap opera; Graeme Swann's majestic international career sunk amid the Ashes wreckage; Matt Prior's followed soon after.

Recriminations, claims, counter-claims, books, Twitter-spats - all these factors made England's restorative Test series win over India in 2014 feel like a sideshow. By the time everyone was paying attention again, they fluffed their lines spectacularly at the World Cup.

Another flight home from Australia in ignominy. Another coach moved along - the unfortunate Peter Moores on this occasion. It hardly felt like the perfect time for an Ashes summer.

But then New Zealand, Brendon McCullum and all their joie de vivre came to town. England went toe to toe with the Black Caps, drawing a thrill-a-minute Test series 1-1 before improbably outgunning the great entertainers in the limited-overs leg.

In Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler, the English cricketing public have captivating stars who can change the course of a match in a session. After 18 months of ignominy on the field and PR shambles off it, these young men have gone a long way to repairing England's seemingly broken marriage between players and fans.

Naturally, the Australians aren't buying it, and why would they? Opener David Warner will look to lead them blazing out of the blocks, Steve Smith will call upon the imperious form that makes him the world's number-one batsman, while Clarke will support his battery of supreme fast bowlers with his trademark "funky" fields.

Australia will target scoring rates in excess of four-per-over, while England and their newly installed Australian coach Trevor Bayliss will try to match them.

All looking for momentum. All playing the accepted brand of cricket.

But Ashes series have a habit of tearing apart the best laid plans - just ask those who remain from the last England touring party.

Over the course of the five matches clouds will close in, the ball will swing and later spit out of footmarks. Swashbuckling batsmen will become survivors by necessity. Aggression may not always be the answer; it might sometimes be the only thrilling option with careers and captaincies on the line.

No one plans for the likes of Anderson and Panesar to be batting heroes in Ashes series. These things just tend to happen.

Do you ever witness news or have a story that should be featured on Pulse Nigeria?
Submit your stories, pictures and videos to us now via WhatsApp: +2349055172167, Social Media @pulsenigeria247: #PulseEyewitness & DM or Email: eyewitness@pulse.ng. More information here.