How prepared are England for the Ashes?

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The English team may have lost yet another 50-over final, but their real test is yet to come. It’s a legendary test, one that they call Ashes, a sarcastic title that has gone on to become a peerless tournament even as favouritism for the longer format of the game continues to dwindle amongst the younger generation of fans.

Already the English and the Australian cricketing priorities have shifted towards the Ashes with both teams doing their best to ensure a comprehensive performance in the upcoming test series. England, with their quite impressive performances in test match series at the start of the season, however go into the tournament as favourites posing a huge threat to the Australian hopes for re-conquering the Ashes.

England Team Strengths: The English players are peaking well, just in time for the Ashes. England enjoyed a few good test match series against India and New Zealand (both home and away) which would enable the team to go into the Ashes with a positive bent of mind. Injured Kevin Pietersen’s comeback would also boost the English morale leaving them to select the best playing 11 from the availability of the best 15-member squad.

Key Players: Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Alastair Cook, Joe Root, Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell, Monty Panesar, Kevin Pietersen

England Team Weaknesses: Although the English team doesn’t have any weaknesses per se, it needs to look beyond its Champions Trophy performance and concentrate solely on the Ashes. England also would need to look beyond the controversies that shrouded its performance so as to ensure a thorough cricketing display in a tournament where winning’s nothing short of a legacy.

Opportunities and Threats: Winning and retaining the Ashes for the third consecutive time in recent years would be quite an incentive for England. Though they haven’t exactly been ruthlessly dominating in tests as Australia, a few years previously, the present-day English test squad has put itself firmly on the path to achieving cricketing glory. Winning the Ashes would then just give them one more victory to add to their already bulging victories’ pile.

But even as the English team looks to add yet another feather to its test-playing cap, against Australia, complacency is a factor that the team needs to avoid at all costs. The Australians have already begun their preparations in earnest even as the English take on New Zealand in a couple of T20 matches, to sum up the Kiwis’ tour of England. England cannot take their opponents lightly and thus jeopardise their chances of retaining the Ashes for the third time.

Head-to-Head

Australia have a slight edge over England (31-30) in the 66 Ashes test series that the two teams have played since the start of the tournament. The past two series in 2009 and 2010-11 however saw England lift the urn aloft over their rivals.

Series Prediction

England win and retain the Ashes 3-0.

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