England's tour of Australia for the Ashes in 2017-18 starts from November 26 next year and it will be interesting to see which of those two teams can shrug off their recent Test match issues to go on to with the series.
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Their tour of India has not gone according to plan for England had dominated India in Test match cricket since 2008. While they were able to beat a very good Indian team in India on their last tour, the present crop of cricketers have not been able to handle India’s spinners or contain their batsmen during their month-long stay in the subcontinent. The result – India have the series 3-0 and there is one more match to play in Chennai.
If the side were to lose to India in the fifth Test as well, England will equal an unwanted record. The most number of Tests than an England team have lost in a calendar year stands at eight. The current side will equal the number if they were to lose to India in Chennai.
Questions have also been raised about Alastair Cook’s captaincy after a 2-2 draw in a four match series at home against Pakistan was followed by defeat to India. Cook is a veteran who has skippered England in 58 Test matches after taking over from Andrew Strauss.
However, he will be 32 next year and does not feature for England in T20s or ODI cricket. This means that the opener will not play international cricket for a period of seven months following the end of the tour of India. While Cook has the backing of coach Trevor Bayliss and influential players such as Ben Stokes, it is no secret that vice-captain Joe Root is gunning for the job.
Although the side have struggled against spin bowling in India, the same may not hold true in Australia where it is the faster bowlers who are usually in business. The conditions Down Under suit their game more than the subcontinent does. Their batsmen are used to playing in damp cold conditions and would relish the prospect of playing on fast pitches in the hot summer sunshine.
At the same time, Australia have not been in great shape themselves. They were beaten by Sri Lanka away from home while South Africa inflicted a painful series defeat at home. Australia’s selectors have a huge job of putting together their best team for a start. It is something that a settled England side can profit from.
The first Ashes Test will be played at The Gabba in Brisbane with the second and third Tests being held at Adelaide and Perth. The fourth and final Tests will be played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the Sydney Cricket Ground.
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