While Aussies have all the advantages at The Ashes 2021, does England have what it takes to beat us? Let’s investigate!
When considering the facts, it seems as though The Ashes 2021 belongs to Australia, but just how likely is that England takes it home this year?
The Ashes is almost upon us and, following a hiatus in 2020, the appetite for top-class test cricket is bigger than ever. What’s more, Australia’s finest will be out to prove that 2019’s draw with England was a mere hiccup. Of course, we also know that, on the other side of the crease, England will be flying to Australia with hopes of returning to form that saw them win three Ashes titles in a row between 2009 and 2013. However, if that is going to happen, England may have to do without star swing-bowler Ben Stokes.
The 30-year-old has been taking time away from the sport to focus on his physical and mental health. As such, he wasn’t named in coach Chris Silverwood’s squad for the Ashes. That could be a positive for Australia. The powerhouse left-handed batsman has been a talisman for England at major tournaments in recent years. Indeed, it was his seminal performance in the final of the 2019 Cricket World Cup that earned him a place among the game’s elite.
Ben Stokes Sidelined but Not Completely Ruled Out
However, pressure and injuries eventually took their toll and Stokes has been missing in action recently. Despite being sidelined, Stokes may still make an appearance. Nothing has been confirmed but coach Silverwood said the door isn’t closed. That’s a door Aussie spin bowler Nathan Lyon expects Stokes to walk through before December. Fuelling Lyon’s suspicion that Stokes might take part in the Ashes is the fact he’s been training. Although a recent Instagram video doesn’t give too much away, Stokes is clearly starting to find his groove.
If he can slip into top gear before the first Ashes test in Brisbane on December 8, he might provide the boost England need to defeat Australia on home soil. Another potential positive for England is the news that James Pattinson won’t be lining up for Australia. The fast bowler retired from international cricket just weeks before the Ashes. Pattinson said that niggling injuries have stopped him from performing at his best and, if he was to play in the Ashes, he doesn’t believe he’d do himself or the team justice. As such, he’s decided to step down, which leaves the Aussies without one of their most experienced bowlers.
Australia Have the Odds in their Favour
Whether or not these factors will work in England’s favour remains to be seen. One thing that’s for certain is that Australia are the favourites to retain the Ashes in 2021. As well as the weight of public opinion siding with the Aussies, the best betting apps in Australia are tipping Tim Paine’s men. Indeed, even a cursory glance through the pre-event betting lines shows a heavy bias towards Australia. Bet365, which is one of the top Aussie betting apps for live streaming, has the holders at 2/7 and England at 5/1. It’s a similar story across the board. Other Australian-facing operators, including Unibet and PlayUp, have the Aussies as heavy favourites.
The question, therefore, is what makes Australia the hot tip this year? We know they’re the current champions and that England hasn’t been able to recreate the magic they showed a few years ago. However, what else is driving the experts to side with Paine et al? Home advantage is a major reason for the current positive sentiment surrounding Australia. Aside from the toll travelling abroad can have on players, these are strange times. With travel procedures and flights more complex than ever, England could go into a series feeling unsettled. Then, of course, there are the fans.
The Aussies Have Advantages this Year
It doesn’t matter what the sport is, Aussies always get behind their athletes, particularly when they’re taking on the Poms. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Australian cricket team, the Socceroos or a boxer like Jeff Horn doing his thing, Aussies will cheer loud and proud for local athletes. That too could unnerve the England side when the pressure is on. Finally, the statistics are in Australia’s favour. In 71 series, Australia have won 33 and England have won 32 (six matches have been drawn). On top of this, out of 335 Ashes test matches played, the Aussies have won 136, England have won 108 and there have been 91 draws. Statistics alone are not always the best predictor of success. However, it’s another area where the Aussies have the upper hand.
The combination of home advantage, England missing a star player and the fact Australia are the current champions are all positives. Add to this the fact bookmakers are currently tipping the Aussies and the Ashes could be staying Down Under this year. However, if recent times have taught us anything it’s that you never know what’s around the corner. England may be the underdogs for the 2021 Ashes, but they’re live dogs. Indeed, if captain Joe Root can inspire his men and key members of the team, such as Mark Wood, to play to their full potential, anything can happen when the balls start flying on December 8.