Test cricket is back with a mouth-watering contest on the cards

After a humdinger of a final in the ICC CWC 2019, England will experience the relaxed ambience of test matches. England and Australia will renew their famed rivalry through a five-match test series starting August 01. We review the marquee contest.  

The preparations

By winning the world cup, England reasserted their position as one-day cricket’s number one team. The test team, however, has not been able to match the white-ball outfit’s consistency. A primary reason has been the opening slot. England has tried several players at that position in the last five years or so. Jason Roy is the latest choice, who is selected for the one-off test against Ireland, starting later this month. Will he be able to carry forward his white-ball form to test cricket? An interesting inclusion! 

England practice session
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Dawn

On the bowling front, Jofra Archer seems to be a prime contender for an Ashes berth. Along with injury-prone Warwickshire pace bowler Olly Stone, they will make a fantastic new-ball pair. If James Anderson recovers from his calf injury in time, a fiery English seam attack will confront a domineering Aussie top order. 

Jofra Archer
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The Independent

Twenty four Australians, meanwhile, get ready to square off against each other in a four-day match in Southampton. It’ll be the final audition for the Aussie players. The likes of David Warner, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood will line up for the Brad Haddin-selected team. The Graeme Hick-selected side comprises of Steven Smith, Tim Paine and Cameron Bancroft, etc. Bancroft, in particular, will be looking to stake a claim for an Ashes spot after coming back from the ball-tampering ban. Usman Khawaja is still recovering from the hamstring injury he sustained in the ICC CWC 2019. His absence renders the number three position up for grabs. Will Bancroft be able to exorcise the ghosts of Newlands?   

Pat Cummins
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Infotainment Factory
The Dukes ball

Remember what Virat Kohli said, “That Dukes ball; it buries egos very quickly!”  The red Dukes ball is pretty different from the white Kookaburra one. It has a reputation of jagging around and making life difficult for batsmen. On top of that, England has chosen the older Dukes ball for the series. With a more prominent seam, it’s a godsend for seamers. Mate, the ball will talk!

Dukes cricket ball
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The Telegraph
New and untested

The 2019 Ashes will be the first of the inaugural 2019-21 ICC World Test Championship. The test championship comes almost a decade after the ICC first mooted the idea. It’s finally coming to life after two failed attempts. For the first time, we may also see players with names and numbers on their shirts. Will these measures revive red-ball cricket and bring crowds to the stadiums?

 

The 2019 Ashes will also see the introduction of ‘like for like’ concussion substitutes. A player hit on the head by a ball can be replaced by a substitute who can bat and ball. The decision on the substitution would be made by the team’s medical representative with approval from the match referee. It’ll be interesting to see the ramifications of this move.

It’ll be an interesting one and a half months of red-ball cricket — a refreshing departure from heart-in-the-mouth finishes! So sit back and watch an even contest between bat and ball. Let’s just hope that the English weather plays ball too!

Jersey with number
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News18