The 2019 Ashes Series is underway in all its glory, with the first of five test matches currently being played in Edgbaston. England, fresh from their World Cup success, will be looking to reclaim the coveted urn back from the Australians after their embarrassing 4-0 loss last time around. However, the Aussies have not triumphed on English soil since 2001, almost 20 years ago. Will this be the year they finally break that jinx, or will England continue to dominate their backyard in the Ashes?
Here we take a look at the top 5 batsmen featuring in the tournament, whose form could define which way the trophy goes:
1) Steve Smith:
Despite failing to score a century during the World Cup, the Australian looked in fine form throughout the tournament. He boasts an average of 60 in Tests, and already has eight Ashes centuries to his name and is widely expected to enter double figures over the coming weeks. Smith was undoubtedly the deciding factor in the last series, stamping his authority with three tons and two half-centuries in eight innings, with an astonishing average of 137.4. He will once again be central to Australia’s fortunes, and will certainly have a point to prove after returning from his ban.
2) David Warner:
The Australian veteran has been brilliant form after his return from the ban and will undoubtedly play a crucial role with the bat as well as on the field, for Australia. Fresh from a fantastic IPL season, Warner was in scintillating form throughout the World Cup, scoring 647 runs at an impressive average of nearly 72. Against England, the southpaw has scored an awesome 1522 runs consisting three centuries and eleven half-centuries, in just 19 matches, at an average of 63. He has been a reliable source of runs for the Australian side for a number of years now. Along with fellow star batsmen Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft, his form will have a massive influence on the ultimate outcome of the series.
The Australian opener has formed a formidable opening partnership with David Warner at the top of the order. In 14 innings, they have averaged over 56 when batting together. Another one returning from a ban, he will be looking to make a noteworthy comeback. The Aussies will be heavily reliant on his technique and capability to anchor innings and play big knocks. His solidity and batting ability will be a vital feature if the Australians will want to score big, especially with the likes of James Anderson and Stuart Broad coming at them from the opposite end.
4) Jason Roy:
Ever since the legendary opening pair of Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss retired, England’s opening batting combinations in Test cricket have looked shaky and not up to the mark. Jason Roy is young and has a lot of ability with the willow, as he showed in the World Cup. He will be looking to emulate the same form in the white-ball format, with his aggressive stroke play and direct approach to the game. However, it will surely not be an easy task against the lethal Aussie bowlers like Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc. Roy will certainly need to come to the fore and hold the English top order steady along with captain Joe Root, if England are to triumph.
The England captain has developed consistently over the past few years to become one of the modern-day greats of the game. With the team lacking top-order experience in Test cricket, he is expected to switch to the number 3 position in this series. Root’s batting prowess, coupled with his leadership and experience makes him an indispensable part of the England setup. He has called on the team to bring the coveted trophy back home, especially on the back of their World Cup win. England will be depending on him heavily for stability and experience at the top of the order if they are to succeed.