The Ashes 2023 Team Guide – Australia

The World Test Champion Australia boasts one of the strongest batting units and a fierce pace battery.

The Ashes 2023 Team Guide – Australia
Dillip Mohanty

Written by: Dillip Mohanty

(Sports Editor)

Last updated: 2023-06-15

Beginning The Journey

The World Test Champions Australia will begin their quest to defend the Ashes urn from June 16th at Birmingham as they look to start afresh the new WTC cycle as champions. Having performed well in the past few years, the selectors didn’t have much of a headache despite some outside noise to pick announce the squads for the first two Tests of the marquee series against the Poms.

The Aussies have retained the majority of the squad that toured in 2019 and defended the urn with a big turnaround in the leadership as Pat Cummins replaces Tim Paine as the skipper who has called time on his career. Andrew McDonald has replaced Justin Langer as head coach and has produced results for the team also providing amble opportunities to the players making them secure.

Cummins will lead the team and also the pace attack comprising of some experienced fiery bowlers in the ranks with the likes of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Scott Boland, Cameron Green, Mitchell Marsh and Michael Neser. Nathan Lyon is expected to start as the lone spinner with the impressive Todd Murphy also named in a 17-member squad.

Former skipper Steven Smith will be Cummins’ deputy and will be chasing many records on this tour getting a good warm up playing for Sussex in the County Championship. Marnus Labuschagne (Glamorgan) and Neser are the other squad members who are well acclimatised to the English conditions.

Opener David Warner has cleared the air over his time in Test cricket and has confirmed that this will be his final Ashes series as he desires to retire at SCG against Pakistan early next year. The left handed swashbuckling opener would look to seal another win in England and contribute to the team’s cause scoring heaps of runs to keep his place come December. His former opening partner Marcus Harris is trusted again with a spot in the squad as a back up opener with Usman Khawaja being preferred as Warner’s partner at the top. Khawaja has been a revelation since his comeback in the squad and since has performed consistently all around the world.

Recent Form: After getting thrashed by a depleted Indian side at home in 2020/21, the Aussie have fought back hard in the format winning 11 Tests. Only India and Sri Lanka have beaten them in the subcontinent in 2 and 1 match respectively. Australia even managed to win a three-Test series against Pakistan in Pakistan by drawing the first two games and winning the decider by 115 runs.

The next overseas assignment against Sri Lanka began on solid ground with a gritty ten wicket win at Galle but a solid comeback from the Lankan Lions in the next match ensured the honours were shared. The biggest challenge was the tour of India where spin friendly conditions made life difficult for the batters in the first two Tests but the spinners Lyon, Murphy and Matthew Kuhnemann provided the Indians a taste of their own medicine in the third Test at Indore to clinically win by 9 wickets and then a flat track at Ahmedabad resulted in a draw ensuring both India and Australia meet in the second ever WTC final where a brilliant allround show; first with the bat and then the ball ensured Australia became the first nation to win all the major men’s and women’s ICC trophies.

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The Ashes has always been one of the most entertaining rivalries in the world of sports and the upcoming series promises to be exciting as ever

Dillip Mohanty

Strengths

Australia has picked up almost the same squad that played and retained the Ashes in England in 2019 with the players well ahead in UK to prepare for the WTC final. Three members of the squad also featured for the County sides in domestic competition so the players are well acclimatised and have gelled in well with the conditions.

The batting order is scoring heaps of runs all around the world. David Warner’s struggle for runs ended in the IPL where he scored 516 runs in 14 innings captaining the Delhi Capitals in an unsuccessful campaign. He has plenty of experience playing in English conditions and a solid start alongside in-form Usman Khawaja can do wonders for the Australian team which has a solid middle order comprising of number 1 Test batter Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Travis Head and wicketkeeper Alex Carey. Cameron Green has been a revelation in Test cricket with his allround ability to bat, bowl and field at crunch positions.

Travis Head has sealed his number 5 spot with conviction and scored an imperious century against India at The Oval. His destructive batting can be a counter measure to Bazball with the hosts also vying to shorten the boundary ropes.

Looking at the bowling front, the visitors have flown in an experienced and tremendous bowling attack with skipper Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Scott Boland sealing their spots in the XI. Boland has romped on to the opportunities presented at him and registered brilliant figures of 6/7 against England in their previous meeting at home. The Australian side is presenting a good case of winning the series but there are some factors going against them as well.

Weaknesses

The lower order hasn’t contributed with the bat as expected in recent times. In English conditions, the pitch usually gets better to bat on as the game progresses and if the top and middle order crumbles early then the pressure is transferred at the back end where some notable contributions are required. Since the 2019 Ashes, the Australian lower order has managed only 4 scores of 40 or more runs from their number 8-11 batters.

Josh Hazlewood’s fitness is a sign of worry for the visitors. The fast bowler picked up a niggle during the IPL and has been out of action ever since even missing out on selection in the WTC final. Michael Neser, already in UK playing the County Championship was the replacement. Missing a bowler of Hazlewood’s stature in these conditions could be a sign of worry. Even if the management rushes into playing him without attaining full fitness, the move can backfire.

Usman Khawaja’s Test batting average is only 17.78 in England. A duck and just 13 runs in the 2nd innings of the recent outing against India is concerning for the batting order. Marcus Harris is the backup opener in the squad and has scored heaps of runs in domestic cricket with a handy experience of playing County cricket for three seasons as well. But his performances at the international stage has failed to resonate with the expectations.

The Verdict

The Ashes has always been one of the most entertaining rivalries in the world of sports and the upcoming series promises to be exciting as ever. The 2019 series here in England drew comparisons with the chaotic 2005 series. With the brand of cricket both England and Australia have been playing, its not likely that the series will be one sided. Even the ICC rankings tell the same story with Australia just 2 points ahead to take the number 2 spot with England at number 3 with 114 rating points.

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Dillip Mohanty

Dillip Mohanty

Dillip has over two decades of experience in creating sports content. As the Sports Editor of SportsBoom, Dillip brings in a wealth of experience and expertise to the role. Dillip has worked with leading sports broadcasters and sports web content portals in Asia. He is an adept storyteller and has a special liking for data stories. He has a keen interest in data analysis and uncovering insights from large datasets. He loves to tell the story with rich and compelling data visualisation.

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