You have to go back to 2010/11 to find the last time that England won the Ashes on Australian soil.
Since then, the nature of their defeats – 0-4 and 0-5 respectively – has been rather telling as the Lions struggled to come to terms with the fast conditions out in the middle and the hostile atmosphere in the stands.
Plenty of water has passed under the bridge since, of course, and there is a feeling that Joe Root’s side have a chance of exorcising those decade-long demons when they head down under at the tailend of 2021.
The schedule for the Ashes has been unveiled, and the action will kick off on December 8 with the first test in Brisbane, before the second game will be hosted by Adelaide from December 16 in what will be a day-night encounter.
The unforgettable Boxing Day test at the MCG will follow, before the series will conclude with the fourth and fifth test in Sydney (January 5) and Perth (January 14) respectively.
England will warm up for the crunch clash with summer series against New Zealand and India, while Australia’s sole red ball action in 2021 will come in the solitary test game against Afghanistan in November.
So England may just head into the series with better preparation under their belt, but will that be enough for them to regain the famous urn? The bookmakers have Australia as warm favorites in their Ashes 2021/22 outright winner cricket betting odds, but with both teams showing signs of weakness lately could the series be a lot closer than most are predicting?
In a Spin
Despite being dominant on home soil, it’s on their travels where England have really struggled of late.
They were well beaten in India in the end, with a clear lack of expertise to cope with the spinning conditions ultimately proving to be their downfall.
However, it’s not just on the sub-continent where Root’s men have failed, and defeats in New Zealand and the West Indies are recent enough in the memory to cause concern.
There are issues in selection that the captain will hope to resolve this summer. Dom Sibley is perhaps cemented in place as the opening batsman, but who will partner him? What number will the likes of Zak Crawley, Ollie Pope and Dan Lawrence bat?
Root will also have to manage the workload of ageing pace duo Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad, and he will also have to decide if he wants his side to go with four quicks – and use himself as a spin option, or sacrifice a paceman to field a tweaker like Jack Leach or Dom Bess.
If the England skipper thought he had problems, spare a thought for his opposite number Tim Paine.
His place in the Australian team is under intense scrutiny, and then he has to find a winning combination in a squad blessed with talent but not aided by an absence of test cricket in the past year.
Their 1-2 series loss to India was the only red ball cricket they have played since the start of 2020, and there are clear issues in the batting department. Marnus Labuschagne has been a revelation for his country, and David Warner suffered a horror show when the Aussies toured England last – Broad really did seem to have his number.
The likes of Marcus Harris and Matthew Wade are yet to really impress as test batsmen, and so both captains have a race against time to find their best eleven before the Ashes get underway. It should be a fascinating series for those very reasons…