CHENNAI: The World Test Championship is over, but not the summer of Test cricket for Australia. The Ashes — the age-old rivalry between Australia and England — gets underway with the first Test at Edgbaston on Friday. While the new England, with Bazball to their fore, will be looking to get the urn back, Pat Cummins will be keen not let go of what he and his teammates had won at home a couple of years ago.
The visitors came close to winning The Ashes for the first time since 2001 last time around under Tim Paine, but let go off the advantage in the fifth Test to draw the series in 2-2. His successor Cummins, who started his stint as Test captain with an Ashes win at home, has come a long way in the last couple of years. From standing up for his teammates, even if it is against the former players, to voicing his opinion on social causes, he has not shied away from any challenge that has come his way. At the same time, he has shone the brightest on the field as well.
At the height of his powers, he will be taking on Ben Stokes, who too, has been on a revival journey himself since taking over as Test captain of England. In essence, the next few weeks will be all about the two captains — albeit following different kinds of approach on the field — trying to outdo one another.
Speaking ahead of the series, former England captain Paul Collingwood said that Australia will be coming into The Ashes with some extra confidence, thanks to the WTC triumph. However, this England team is nothing like the one the visitors dominated back in 2019. The new word surrounding Test cricket in England is 'entertainment' with captain Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum adapting an attacking style of cricket. At a time where there is more emphasis being laid on domestic T20 leagues around the world, Collingwood noted that the concept of 'Bazball' was imperative for the "survival of Test cricket". "The vision of this team is to make Test cricket exciting again, turn it into a game that the whole world wants to watch," he said in a select media interaction on Tuesday.
While there are question marks over whether the strategy will work against the Australian bowling attack, Collingwood was clear that England would continue to play the same way. "This is our brand of cricket. England cricket has gone from worrying about consistency and averages to focusing on the impact that players have in a game. Regardless of whether it's the Ashes or not, our style of play is going to remain the same."
The series will also see the return of Moeen Ali, coming back from retirement in the longest format, owing to the team management's request as a replacement for injured Jack Leach. Collingwood was excited to see him return, and believed he's the perfect mould for the brand of cricket they are playing. "He's a great guy, and his abilities and skills as an all-rounder are exceptional, he will definitely be a welcome addition to this England side," he said.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, Collingwood feels Lyon should not be taken lightly. "It will not just be Lyon. Cummins and Scott Boland have been bowling beautifully. The in-form Travis Head along with Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne both of who have had success in England could pose problems to the Stokes-led side. One thing that is guaranteed is that these two teams are going to put an absolute show," Collingwood signed off.
Watch The Ashes live on Sony Sports Network from June 16.