Any team hoping to win a Test series away from home requires the ultimate combination of skill and fortune coming together. Below are five things England need to go their way in order to claim victory in The Ashes.
The day/night Test
There is somewhat of a received wisdom that the day/night Test in Adelaide represents England’s best chance of a victory this series. The idea is that the evening session where the floodlights come into play create another opportunity for the ball to swing, suiting England’s seam attack. And with the fifth Test match likely to change location from Perth, there appears to be a strong chance that either Sydney or Melbourne may play host to another fixture which would be a day/night game. And if one pink-ball Test is good for England, that means two is even better.
Ollie Robinson continues his metronomic ways
When the squad for this series was announced, head coach Chris Silverwood said that England’s bowling attack will rely on “supreme accuracy” in their attempts to regularly take 20 Australian wickets. And Ollie Robinson represents a key part of that plan. Dubbed as the ‘Josh Hazlewood’ of England’s attack, Robinson’s metronomic action and relentless accuracy has seen him have an incredibly strong start to his Test career (off-field issues aside). In his first five matches, Robinson has taken 28 wickets at an average of 19.6, and crucially, conceded just 2.63 runs an over in the process. If England are hoping to squeeze 10 Australian wickets out over the course of a long day in the field, such miserly ways will be vital to any success they have.
Joe Root continues to be the best in the world
At risk of falling into the trap of simply saying that England must bat, bowl and field well to win this Ashes series, they really do need their skipper to fire on all cylinders and continue the form that has seen him rise to being the No.1 ranked Test batter. His numbers in 2021 are already phenomenal having scored 1,455 runs at an average of 66.13 with six centuries to go with it. However, as Root says himself, he knows that this series will define his legacy as captain. And whilst he may have already moved heaven and earth for his country this year, he’ll need to do so once more if England are to have a chance at victory.
Picking the right attack first up
There have been plenty of rumours that the pitch at the Gabba is likely to be a green seamer following the un-seasonal, and incredibly wet, weather that Australia has been receiving. This has furthered the idea that England may opt once again to pick an XI without a frontline spinner and go for an all-seam attack. It is a decision where hindsight will be a beautiful thing. Get it right, and it will be a tactical masterstroke that could see England jump ahead in the series. Get it wrong, and it will be the first point of criticism if England find themselves behind the eight-ball as soon as the series has begun.
Day one, session one
The old cliche of Test cricket is that whilst you can’t win a match in a session, you can lose one. And given the lack of preparation that both the England and Australia camp’s have had, both sides will be desperate to make sure they’re not the one losing the game by lunch on day one. In the words of Stuart Broad, the first Test is likely to be “a bit of a lottery.”
“I don’t think anyone knows how the pitch will play or how batters will settle having not faced a red ball for months. “It’s going to be a mental game. Mistakes will be made by both sides and it will be a case of whoever can capitalise on the key moments.”
Test wins are incredibly hard to come by. But if ever there is to be a cheap win available one way or another, this is it.