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The first Test for England

It seems like forever for cricket fans but after two long years of waiting, tonight is the night, The Ashes is back!

(England take control in the 4th Test at Trent Bridge 2015)

It seems a long while ago now for us fans since England regained the urn with a spectacular innings and 78 run defeat of the Aussies at Trent Bridge back on home soil in 2015. I expect it will feel even longer still for the England squad of 2017, as they prepare for their opening match against Steve Smith’s Australia tonight.

Even if we avoid mentioning the debacle of key all-rounder Ben Stokes, who will miss the tour after being charged with violent conduct, it has been a turbulent couple of years for English cricket. From that 4th test victory back in 2015 only 5 of the England XI retain their place in the side, and centurion that day Joe Root now captains his country after succeeding opener Alistair Cook. These changes, combined with the fact that an English cricket side hasn’t won in Brisbane at “the Gabba” since 1986, mean the word Test is only too apt to describe the task facing Root’s Barmy Army.

Level at 32 series a piece with 5 draws to match, there has been very little separating these two sides since the inaugural series in 1882. What we do know however, is that home advantage plays a decisive role. In the history of the competition the home side has come out on top 52.2% of the time, with the away side taking the spoils on just 40% of occasions. These stats become even more skewed if you consider the recent history. Only twice in the last ten Ashes series have the tourists come out on top, which makes grim reading for us English, particularly in light of a 5-0 whitewash on our last visit in 2013-14.

Unsurprisingly then, the bookies have made Australia firm favourite to regain the urn this time around. One thing we do know about the English though, is we do love an underdog, and with the tide of cricketing opinion, at least in this country, firmly against us, that is exactly what we are. This will not phase Root and his men. In fact they will be relishing the chance to prove their critics wrong and become only the second team this century to escape from down under with the trophy firmly in English rucksacks.

As the story of The Ashes series once again unfolds FCapitalSport will be keeping you up to date with the latest news and debates coming out of the England camp. For more information keep updated regularly on our website, and find our new FCapitalSport Podcast on Itunes! Come on England!

England team: Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Joe Root (capt), Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, Jake Ball, James Anderson.

London Players to Watch

(No 2 Batsman) Mark Stoneman – Surrey

(No 5 Batsman) Dawid Malan – Middlesex