Ashes preview-England: Uncertainty, injuries put visitors on back foot

Joe Root’s men face Australia in first of five-Test series from November 23 in Brisbane

Ashes, which is being termed as cricket’s oldest rivalry, is set to begin in less than a week’s time and both teams have finalised their preparations for the first match, which will begin on November 23 in Brisbane.

In the second and final preview for the series, we are looking at the strengths and weaknesses of the visiting side – England, who are also defending their Ashes title this time around.

Strength

Despite the absence of star all-rounder Ben Stokes, England’s main strength remains in their lower middle-order batting, where left-handed batsman David Malan, wicketkeeper batsman Jonny Bairstow and all-rounders Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes are more than capable of putting valuable contribution when it needed the most.

Their presence also gives freedom to the likes captain Joe Root and veteran opener Alastair Cook, who knows that even if they fall early, there is plenty left in the tank.

With England eyeing to avoid repeating the episode of 2013 Ashes whitewash, it is imperative that visitors lower middle-order continue to deliver like they are doing for some time, which can give them real edge over the home side.

Weakness

The batting order does not contain a lot of players who are inexperienced such as Mark Stoneman, Dawid Malan and James Vince. The side looks over-reliant on Alastair Cook, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow for putting runs on the board.

England’s weakness is surely their bowling attack, which is weaken by the absence of Stokes and his replacement Steven Finn, who is also ruled out after sustaining injury.

Absence of Stokes and Finn, Ball is not the only worry for Root, as his most trusted weapons in pace department – James Anderson and Stuart Broad, are at the twilight of their careers, and it has to be seen if they have what it takes to survive five-Test series, and there is no great backup as well. Jake Ball is tipped to make an instant impact as he is tall fast bowler. England will be looking towards to him to make a contribution like what Chris Tremlett in 2010 series in Australia which visitors won by 3-1.

In all, there is crisis time for England in the bowling department, who looks short on options and Root will have to use all of his leadership skills to make sure his team won’t produce the same kind of performances which led to historic whitewash four years ago.

Key player:

By the look of things, England’s most important player is all-rounder Chris Woakes, who provides visitors’ that X factor which Australia is missing. Woakes have the ability to fill the third pacer slot and is a complete bowler who can provide important runs lower down the order as well.

Conclusion:

Australia’s problems aside, but England are in a real mess going into this Ashes, and it will be nothing less than a miracle if they retain their title come January 8, 2018.

 

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