The Ashes are on the agenda – England Cricket

By Philip Oliver   
England won The Ashes in 2005

England won The Ashes in 2005

There appears to be a lot of cricket still to be played before England and Australia line-up at Cardiff on 8th July for the first Ashes Test.

The ICC World Twenty20 might be a major cricket tournament in its own right, but the Ashes captains, regardless of their public denials, are already thinking ahead to the big one, as they know it will soon be upon them.

The World Twenty20 will provide each team with between five and seven matches (unless they crash out in the first round). The only proper Test match preparation for the tourists will be four day matches against Sussex and England Lions.

More significantly, England and Australia will probably face each other only once in any format before Cardiff. Their Super Eights clash is the only opportunity to lay down markers and statements of intent ahead of the Test series.

England famously did that in style by winning the Twenty20 clash before the 2005 Ashes by 100 runs. The Matthew Hayden – Simon Jones confrontation in that match at Southampton is credited by England as a key moment in that summer.

However, it is often forgotten that the teams also faced each other in seven One Day internationals before the Test series began, winning three apiece, with one abandonment and one tie, which meant the NatWest series was shared.

Personal battles were drawn-up and the close nature of the encounters made both sides realise that the major contest would be tight.

This time that period of familiarisation and eyeballing will be condensed into one Twenty20 match. Ashes protagonists such as Andrew Strauss, Andrew Flintoff, and Phillip Hughes might be missing, but that clash will be a high octane one that both teams will want to dominate.

So if any English or Australian player denies that they are thinking about the Ashes, we should be sceptical. If they are not, they should be, as the summer’s main event will soon be upon them.

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