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England, Australia set for Ashes battle

Clarke’s men are aiming to reverse a 14-year stretch without a series win in England, while the home team is eager to wrest the urn lost in 2013-14

England, Australia set for Ashes battle - Cricket News
Michael Clarke will be eager to add an away Ashes win to his already celebrated leadership career.
After a lengthy build-up towards the oldest and most storied rivalry in cricket, England and Australia will get down to the business of contesting the Ashes when the first match of the five-Test starts in Cardiff on Wednesday (July 8).
Australia, the current holder of the urn, won 5-0 at home when it last faced England in 2013-14. However, the last time Australia won an Ashes series in England was 14 years ago, in 2001. Since then, it has lost in 2005, 2009 and 2013, making this series a highly anticipated and even contest.
Michael Clarke, the Australia captain, was part of each of those three defeats, and will be eager to add an away Ashes win to his already celebrated leadership career.
England will be taking its first steps under the stewardship of Trevor Bayliss, the newly appointed coach, and Alastair Cook will be looking to lead a newly galvanised side to another triumph at home. England acquitted itself well in its recent Test and One-Day International series against New Zealand, playing an aggressive brand of cricket that promised results and entertainment. Andrew Strauss, the former captain and current director of cricket, was positive that England would be no pushover. “I think if Australia do win, they'll have to play some outstanding cricket to do so,” said Strauss.
The last Ashes in England ended with the home team winning 3-0, but the series was more closely contested than the margin suggests, with both sides having chances to win matches at various stages. England pulled ahead in the decisive moments against an Australian side that was still finding its feet. How well the Australians gelled under Darren Lehmann, who had taken charge just before the 2013 Ashes, was evident in the subsequent 5-0 sweep.
However, this time around, Australia will be missing a key component of its attack, with Ryan Harris having announced his international retirement. Harris had been the standout bowler in the series in England in 2013, and did admirably in the 2013-14 leg at home too, though Mitchell Johnson stole the spotlight with an incredible 37 wickets in five Tests then.
Harris’s absence means Australia’s pace attack is likely to remain Johnson, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood – the same trio that did duty in the side’s series win in the West Indies. Starc, the Man of the Tournament during Australia’s ICC World Cup 2015 win, has been among the wickets with the red ball too, and said being consistent was the secret behind his recent success. "I have worked a long time for my stock delivery being at a left-hander," said Starc. "The consistency is getting to where it needs to be and I'm starting to see results."
For its part, England’s attack could feature Mark Wood, the Durham pacer who picked up nine wickets in the two Tests against New Zealand, his debut series. The spin department is manned by Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, and England will most likely pick only one of the two to complement the pace attack.
Australia’s selectors will also have a tough choice in picking between the all-round talents of Mitchell Marsh and Shane Watson, while Nathan Lyon is expected to shoulder the spinning duties.
With both sides keyed up to win a series that has held a special place in the hearts of players and fans for more than a century, the action promises to be enthralling from start to finish.
Teams (from):
England: Alastair Cook (capt), Adam Lyth, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (wk), Moeen Ali, Stuart Broad, Mark Wood, James Anderson, Steven Finn, Adil Rashid.
Australia: David Warner, Chris Rogers, Steven Smith, Michael Clarke (capt), Adam Voges, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin (wk), Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Fawad Ahmed, Peter Nevill.

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