Cricket's oldest and biggest rivals, Australia and England are set to lock horns starting this Wednesday at the Gabba in Brisbane. The Ashes is slated to hold 5-Test matches, with the last match set to be played on the 14th of January.
The Ashes is set to resume after a gap of close to two years as the 2020 edition was canceled due to the pandemic taking over. However, the 2019 edition saw a neck-to-neck battle between the two sides which ended in a 2-2 draw, and the Aussies retained the title courtesy of their 4-0 thrashing in the previous edition.
The preparations have not been ideal for both sides as England who are playing in a way conditions did not get to prepare well due to the wet weather in the country.
On the other hand, the Aussies were dealt with a huge blow when their skipper Tim Paine decided to step down from captaincy and exclude himself from the tournament owing to an off-field scandal.
Two teams filled with world-class players, the series will mark the return of their star English all-rounder Ben Stokes, who returns to the side after a gap of over a year. Can the 2021 ICC T20 champions get the better of the 2019 ICC World Cup champions? Well, this December is certain to be a bonanza for the lovers of the sport.
Match Toss Time: 05:00 IST (23:30 GMT)
Match Start Time: 05:30 Local (00:00 GMT)
Match Venue: The Gabba, Brisbane
Head to Head
Matches played: 351, Australia: 146, England: 110, Draw: 95
Weather conditions and pitch
A huge setback came for Aussies with the withdrawal of their skipper, Tim Paine. However, this stands to be a great chance for Pat Cummins to showcase his captaincy. The hosts have already announced their playing Xl and the inclusion of Marcus Harris over Usman Khawaja seems a puzzling one.
England's Ashes and WC hero, Ben Stokes' return will definitely be a huge boost for the visitors. It will be a tough call between Rory Burns and Zak Crawley, given Crawley's gameplay, he might just be a point ahead of Burns.
We have named a 12-player squad for the first Ashes Test at The Gabba 👇#Ashes— England Cricket (@englandcricket) December 7, 2021
Probable playing Xl
Australia (AUS): David Warner, Marcus Harris, Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood
England (ENG): Rory Burns, Zak Crawley, Dawid Malan, Joe Root, Ollie Pope, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes, Ollie Robinson, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad/ Jack Leach
The Aussie all-rounder Marnus Labuschagne, who averages close to 60 in the longest format is a must pick for this encounter. The English skipper Joe Root is also expected to be among the runs.
English all-rounder Ben Stokes and Aussie opener David Warner are the two other Must-Picks for the first Test between the two sides.
AUS vs ENG fantasy team
Captain and VC picks
On paper, the Aussies look like a more balanced side but do not keep the Englishmen out as they are players in the side who are capable of winning matches single-handedly. It is more like a contest between the pacers as Gabba is known to be a paradise for them.
The conditions are not in favor of the sport as rain is forecasted on all five days of the game. Given the quality of the batsmen on both sides, they might just hold on to their fort.
Cricwizz predicts the 1st Test to be a draw.
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