The 2023 cricket season is in full swing, and a number of huge test series have taken place already this year. India managed to hang on to the Border–Gavaskar Trophy for the eighth consecutive year following a 2-1 victory over Australia. England and New Zealand both had to settle for a draw in their series against each other, with the second test match, in particular, being a thriller that saw the Kiwis win by just one run.
But don’t think that the best of the action is now over. Far from it, the best cricketing episode of the year is still to come. To be exact, it will be upon us on June 16th when England hosts Australia to contest The Ashes series.
The Ashes is the oldest and most competitive rivalry in all of cricket. The series has been contested every two years or so since 1882, and 2023’s installment promises to be tighter than ever. That is reflected in the cricket online betting odds provided by Bovada, which simply cannot split the two sides three months out from the first test.
In recent years, Australia have had a stranglehold on the Ashes, unlike anything we have seen since the turn of the millennium. Between 1989 and 2003, the Aussies won eight consecutive series against their eternal rivals with an aggregate score of 28-7. Between 2005 and 2015, England enjoyed some dominance of their own, but in recent years, momentum has swung back to the side from down under.
The Australians have successfully clung onto the famous little earn for the last six years. This year, England will be looking to change that by successfully regaining the trophy. And in preparation for them doing exactly that, here’s a breakdown of how the most recent Ashes series on English soil played out.
Australia Take an Early Lead
The most recent Ashes series to take place in the Northern Hemisphere came back in 2019. England headed into the tussle full of confidence and momentum. Ben Stokes’ heroics just two weeks prior to the first test had secured the Cricket World Cup for England for the first time in the country’s history.
But that momentum was all but extinguished in the first test of the 2019 Ashes Series. The incomparable Steve Smith – perhaps the finest batsman on the planet both back then and even now – slapped a whopping 286 runs in his two innings as Australia romped to victory by 251 runs. It was a defeat made all the more disappointing for the hosts considering they held a 90-run lead following the first innings.
Following typically poor weather conditions, the second test at Lord’s finished as a draw with more than one whole day of play being rained off. But it was the third test where the series truly burst into life.
Ben Stokes’ Heroics Keep England Alive
Australia knew that a win at Headingley would ensure that they would successfully retain the Ashes on English soil for the first time in 18 years. And it looked like that was a certainty after the tourists bowled the hosts out for a paltry 67. Australia hit modest scores in both of their innings, leaving England with a difficult but reachable 358 to win.
If the hosts were able to reach the target, it would be the highest run chase in the history of English test cricket. And they were well on course to reach the target at lunch on day four. England were 238/4 and had Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow batting impeccably. But following the lunch break, all hell broke loose.
Bairstow was the first to fall, kicking a Josh Hazlewood ball to slip. Then, the floodgates opened. Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes, Jofra Archer, and Stuart Broad were all dismissed cheaply leaving England at 286/9, still a mighty 72 runs away from victory with just one wicket in hand. Step up, Ben Stokes.
England’s knight in shining armor took the fight to the Australians, smashing fours and sixes all over Yorkshire. Jack Leach would resolutely defend the few balls he faced, leaving Stokes to sweep home the match-winning boundary much to the delight to England fans the world over.
The Tourists Seal the Deal
Heading into the fourth test at Old Trafford, both teams knew that defeat was not an option, and it was the Australians who left their mark on proceedings. Thanks to an impeccable double century from Steve Smith, the Aussies scored an imposing 497 in their first innings. England would reply with just 301, and the writing was on the wall.
The Aussies would return to the crease and add a further 186 runs before declaring and setting England 382 to win. This time, there was to be no more heroics. The hosts were bowled out for 197, leaving Australia to celebrate retaining the ashes on foreign soil for the first time in almost two decades.
England would win the final test by 135 runs, restoring some pride. But as the urn is retained by the reigning champions if a series finishes as a draw, it was Australia who headed back down under with the bragging rights, and with the tiny trophy in tow.
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