The Ashes 2017/18 – Can England Bring the Trophy Home This Year?

England’s Ashes campaign begins on Thursday, when they take on Australia at the Gabba. With one of the sport’s most fiercely contended trophies on the line, both teams will be desperate to get off to a good start. So how have England fared in their warm-up matches and what could be in store as the series gets underway?

England in Australia – The Story So Far

England currently hold the renowned cricket trophy, after triumphing at home two years ago. However, memories of their 5-0 defeat in Australia in 2013-14 are sure to come to mind as they enter the famous Brisbane ground this week. The Gabba’s reputation as a place where visiting teams tend to suffer won’t help to steady their nerves either. They’ll be only too aware that the Aussies haven’t lost a Test at the ground since 1988.

Trevor Bayliss, England’s head coach, would certainly have liked his lads to have been able to start the series feeling confident. Unfortunately, however, their warm-up matches didn’t go to plan. They only managed to draw with Western Australia XI in Perth, although they looked more competitive in Adelaide as they sealed a 192-run victory against Cricket Australia XI.

Cricket Australia XI’s inexperienced young players then not only held them to a draw in Townsville, however, but humiliated them. The visitors spent the final day of the match battling in the Australian heat, but only managed to take one wicket for their troubles.

The 2017/18 Ashes Series – Could England Claim the Trophy?

The results of England’s warm-up matches won’t be the only source of concern for those hoping that they’ll retain the famous cricket trophy this year. Ben Stokes was forced to miss the opening tour matches, due to an ongoing police investigation. At the time this post was written, he was still in the UK, awaiting confirmation as to whether he’d be able to join his teammates at all.

Moeen Ali, who will be batting in lieu of Stokes at number six should the New Zealand-born player be unable to take part, was forced to miss the first two warm-up matches due to injury, so hasn’t had as much practice as he’d have liked. Steve Finn was also ruled out of contention due to injury before the tour began, with Tom Curran being called up in his place.

Jake Ball added to England’s woes when he sprained his ankle in their second warm-up game, but has since been declared fit to play.

Some rays of hope still shine through the gloom for England fans, however. When the Australians announced the squad that would be playing in the first two ties, the experts’ reaction was one of surprise. The biggest shock was the inclusion of Tim Paine, who hasn’t played an international Test match since the Aussies toured India, way back in 2010. 34-year-old Shaun Marsh, meanwhile, has been recalled to the team, despite his history of carrying performance-hampering injuries.

This year, the series will also feature a day-night match for the first time – and England can take heart from this, as the format seems to suit them. Not only was the only warm-up match they won a day-night tie, they also trounced the Windies in the UK’s first day-night international Test match earlier this year.

Do you think England can win the Ashes? Share your series predictions with us in the comments section, on Twitter or on Facebook.