England are all set to take on the mighty Australia in the 1st Test of the Ashes 2015 at The Sophia Gardens in Cardiff on Wednesday. If an England fan recollects the memories of Ashes 2013-14, they will not have much moments to cherish about. The only thing that will be swirling in the minds of the English now would be 'revenge'.
Australia had whitewashed England 5-0 in the last Ashes series at their home and now have travelled across the oceans to face the England team for yet another Ashes series. England would feel that they have the advantage of playing at home and the ever-special Barmy Army to back them up with their chants and roars.
Surprisingly, the men in the baggie green have failed to lift the Ashes trophy in England after 2001 and this time Michael Clarke and co would look to set that record straight. But it will not be easy against this new-look England side. Although, Alastair Cook does not have the likes of Andrew Flintoff, Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Strauss and Stephen Harmison (who once turned out to be English heroes at home soil back in 2005 and 2009), but he does have enough arsenal to make the Aussies feel the pressure in the upcoming Ashes series.
England have recently squared a Test series against New Zealand at home, but they came back from behind to beat the Kiwis in the ODI series. Meanwhile, Australia trounced West Indies in the two-match Test series before they came to England. But Ryan Harris' sudden retirement might hurt the Aussies in the upcoming series. Pat Cummins has been called as 'Rhino's' replacement.
Former Australian legendary spinner Shane Warne also felt that an Ashes series win in England is something that would add to Clarke's outstanding achievements in his brilliant career, which he is yet to achieve. On the other hand, if Alastair Cook manages to lead this upbeat England side to an Ashes series win this year it would be an ideal reward for the difficult times that England cricket has gone through, which includes - Ashes whitewash in Australia in 2013-14, international exile of Kevin Pietersen and Cook's own loss of form.
The war of words have already set its course from the moment Australia landed in London. Former off-spinner Graeme Swann had opined that Steve Smith is not a great batsman and he cannot give the English players sleepless nights. Clarke had later replied saying, "We'll find out in five Test matches' time if Steve Smith's good enough to have success over here." David Warner and Joe Root were also involved in war of words recently.
Former England skipper and legendary cricketer Ian Botham felt that England have the team to surprise the Aussies this time. But Australia are one of the best in business in the longer format of the game. The likes of Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Steve Smith, David Warner and others are raring to go against the likes of James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Ben Stokes, Joe Root and Ian Bell.
The blokes from both the sides would be bidding to hold possession of the Ashes urn and one can expect this series to be yet another electric one that would light up the scars and wounds of the pasts.
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.
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.
Schedule: England vs Australia 1st Ashes Test at Sophia Garden Stadium in Cardiff starts at 11am local time (3:30pm IST, 11am BST, 6pm ET and 8am Australian Time).