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England vs Australia: Can Alastair Cook help the hosts regain the Ashes?

Rohan Raj | Updated on: 8 July 2015, 18:32 IST

In a bid to regain the Ashes this year, England will take on familiar foes Australia in the 1st Test at Cardiff on 8 July. If one was to go down the memory lane, English fans won't have much to cherish about following their 5-0 whitewash Down Under in 2013-2014 series. However, the idea of revenge will surely be uppermost in their minds.

Counting on their stellar performance against England back home, the Australian brigade is keen to defend the Ashes trophy on enemy soil. Despite enjoying a good run in the recent games, Michael Clarke's men will be wary of the 3-0 whitewash they suffered during their visit to England.

A History of rivalry

The first Test match between England and Australia was played in Melbourne in 1877, though the Ashes legend began after the ninth Test that was played in 1882.

An Ashes series is traditionally five Tests, hosted in turn by England and Australia at least once every four years.

A total of 68 series have been played between the two cricketing giants with Australia winning 32 against England's 31. The series was also drawn on five occasions.

Australia, who defeated England 5-0 in 2013, completed a clean sweep in Ashes history for the record third time - a feat never matched by their opponents.

Key players

Steven Smith (Aus): Ranked No. 1 as Test batsman. The 26-year-old middle-order batsman has been pivotal for his side in recent outings. The right-handed batsman has smashed five hundreds in his last six Tests at an average of 131.5. Smith will be expected to continue his fine run as Australia gear up to defend the Ashes trophy.

James Anderson (Eng): The right-arm swing maestro is currently ranked No.2 in Tests. Anderson took 22 wickets in five games during Australia's last visit to England. He will once again need to prove his mettle if England intend to regain the Ashes.

Statistics of The Ashes 2013-14 (England tour of Australia)

Top run-scorer: Australian opener David Warner smashed England bowlers all around the park to emerge as the leading run-scorer in the last Ashes series held in Australia. The southpaw amassed 523 runs, including two hundreds and two fifties, in the five matches.

Most wickets: Australia's bowling spearhead Mitchell Johnson took 37 wickets in five Tests to emerge as the leading wicket-taker in the series. His bowling figures of 7/40 in 17.2 overs during the Adelaide Test was also the best by a bowler in the series.

Highest score: Australian captain Michael Clarke registered the highest score by a batsman in the last Ashes series after scoring 148 runs in the Adelaide Test. The innings also secured Australia's mammoth 218-run win against England.

Best sledges in Ashes

2001: Australia's Mark Waugh and England's debutant bowler James Ormond exchanged pleasantries in the fifth Test of the Ashes at The Oval. Waugh instigated Ormond by asking him: "Mate, what are you doing out here, there's no way you're good enough to play for England." Though Australia went on to win the match and the series 4-1, the final Test will always be remembered for Ormond's cracking reply to Waugh: "Maybe not, but at least I'm the best player in my family."

2013: During the first Test of the Ashes in Brisbane, George Bailey and James Anderson were involved in a heated argument after the latter threatened to punch the Australian. As Mitchell Johnson geared up to bowl to Anderson, skipper Michael Clarke walked up to the England player and told him, "Get ready for a broken f****ing arm."

Probable line-up

Australia: Michael Clarke (c), David Warner, Steve Smith, Brad Haddin (wk), Adam Voges, Shane Watson, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon

England: Alastair Cook (c), Adam Lyth, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (wk), Moeen Ali, Stuart Broad, Mark Wood, James Anderson

First published: 8 July 2015, 18:32 IST
Rohan Raj @ro4an_raj

After a poor stint in gully-cricket quashed his hopes of turning pro, Rohan moved away from the playing field and began criticising those who were still on it. Football eases his mind and watching City paint Manchester blue is his elusive dream. When not talking, thinking or dreaming about sports, Rohan can be found listening to EDM or watching movies. A sports correspondent at Catch News, he has previously worked with Hindustan Times, Daily Bhaskar and India Today.