When is the Ashes?
The 2023 Ashes series will be played from 16 June to 31 July. Each Test is never split by more than nine days. The shortest gap of four days is between the second and third Tests. The longest gap of nine days is between the fourth and fifth. That is, of course, if each match lasts the scheduled five days.
First Test: 16 to 20 June 2023 Second Test: 28 June to 2 July 2023 Third Test: 6 to 10 July 2023 Fourth Test: 19 to 23 July 2023 Fifth Test: 27 to 31 July 2023
Where is the Ashes being played?
Ashes series alternate between countries. This year, the Ashes is being held in England. Edgbaston in Birmingham will host the series opener. The fifth and final Test will be played at The Oval in London. Interestingly, the England and Wales Cricket Board afforded Headingley in Leeds an Ashes Test ahead of Trent Bridge in Nottingham this time.
First Test: Edgbaston, Birmingham Second Test: Lord's, London Third Test: Headingley, Leeds Fourth Test: Old Trafford, Manchester Fifth Test: The Oval, London
Who are the holders of the Ashes?
Australia are the reigning Ashes title holders. The hosts won the 2021-22 series 4-0. England lost in Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne before a draw in Sydney and another win for Australia in Hobart. There have been 72 Ashes series since the first in 1882. Australia have won 34 series and England 32, with six draws.
When last did England win?
England last won the Ashes series in 2015. The hosts won the five-match series 3-2. Joe Root and Stuart Broad were England's top run-scorer and wicket-taker, respectively, in that series.
Who are the favourites to win the Ashes?
Australia and England currently occupy second and third positions, respectively, in the International Cricket Council's Test rankings. England will have home advantage for this Ashes series - and relatively dynamic leadership in head coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes. Australia have not won an Ashes series in England since 2001.
England have named a 15-man squad for the first two Ashes Tests. Jonny Bairstow has effectively been preferred to Ben Foakes. It will be interesting to see if Josh Tongue plays ahead of Chris Woakes again.
Ben Stokes (captain) Ollie Pope Jonny Bairstow Joe Root James Anderson Stuart Broad Harry Brook Ben Duckett Zak Crawley Matthew Potts Ollie Robinson Dan Lawrence Chris Woakes Mark Wood Josh Tongue
Australia have named a 17-man Ashes squad, which includes wicketkeeper-batsman Josh Inglis, who has not been capped at Test level. Batsman David Warner, who will likely retire from Test cricket soon, has also been included.
Pat Cummins (captain) Scott Boland Alex Carey Cameron Green Marcus Harris Josh Hazlewood Travis Head Josh Inglis Usman Khawaja Marnus Labuschagne Nathan Lyon Mitchell Marsh Todd Murphy Matthew Renshaw Steve Smith Mitchell Starc David Warner
Ashes injury and fitness updates
England have lost spinner Jack Leach for the entire 2023 Ashes series. He has been sidelined by a back injury sustained during early June's one-off Test against Ireland. England might recall one of their spinning all-rounders in Moeen Ali, Will Jacks or Rehan Ahmed as Leach's replacement.
Stokes became the first captain to win a Test without batting, bowling or keeping wicket recently. He has quashed concerns about bowling fitness, after being deployed with the ball relatively sparingly by England and others recently.
England have been cautious with James Anderson and Ollie Robinson. They were rested for the one-off Test against Ireland. Both are expected to be fully fit and available for the opening Ashes Test at Edgbaston.
Australia are looking forward to the full fitness of fast bowler Josh Hazlewood, who has all but recovered from a side strain sustained while playing for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the 2023 Indian Premier League.
Star players to keep an eye on in The Ashes
Root won't have the England captaincy in an Ashes series for the first time since 2015. Let's see if the removal of the responsibility empowers or limits his primary role with the bat. With Leach sidelined, Root could have more of a role to play with the ball as well.
Tongue, alongside team-mate Mark Wood and Australian duo Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, will be among the fastest bowlers showcased in this Ashes series. If selected ahead of Woakes again, Tongue might open the bowling with Anderson, with Broad to bowl first change.
Crawley is averaging a mere 28.26 after 63 Test innings but continues to collect support from McCullum and Stokes, and will likely open the batting alongside the in-form Ben Duckett. Unless Bairstow is pushed up the order, England don't have another specialist batsman in the squad.
Green will come into this Ashes series on the back of a successful stint with the Mumbai Indians in the 2023 IPL. But as former Australia Test captain and IPL veteran Shane Watson knows, the transition from franchise T20 to international Test cricket can be "extreme".
Labuschagne and team-mate Steven Smith prepared for the Ashes series via respective stints with Glamorgan and Sussex in the English County Championship. Labuschagne hit 65 and 170 not out against Yorkshire at Headingley - the venue for the third 2023 Ashes series Test.
Murphy took seven wickets on Test debut against India in Nagpur earlier this year. It's improbable he will feature in the same Ashes XI as fellow spinner Nathan Lyon. If selected alongside or instead of Lyon, though, Murphy should enjoy the challenge of bowling in less spin-friendly conditions.
Pat Cummins v Ben Stokes
This Ashes series will present several battles within the war. Cummins v Stokes might be among the most intriguing. Cummins has brought a relatively relaxed approach during the series build-up, preferring to be "slightly underdone than overdone".
Stokes, meanwhile, is in the throes of the fast-paced, attacking 'Bazball' era. Cummins will go into the Ashes series opener on the back of a challenging World Test Championship final against India, while Stokes will only have a three-day finish against Ireland to go on.
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