England vs Australia: 5 key battles to watch out for in Ashes 2021/2022 series

England will take on their fiercest rivals in cricket once again this winter as they head out to Australia for the Ashes series 2021/2022

Australia are the current holders of the Urn after they drew the series in 2019 and thus retained them.

The summer of 2019 was filled with fire, fervour and ferocious intent as the two ancient cricketing rivals battled the five tests out.

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Ahead of the upcoming series, here are five of the many battles that are likely to decide who will take home the precious Urn.

Stuart Broad vs David Warner

By the end of the 2019 summer, it had almost become humorous to English fans watching Australian batsman David Warner face paceman Stuart Broad. In the ten innings that both men featured, Broad took Warner’s wicket seven times.

Overall, Broad has taken the wicket of David Warner 12 times in 23 matches.

Broad has taken Warner’s wicket 12 times in 23 innings.

Fans were delighted when Broad would open the bowling against Warner knowing it was unlikely to be long before his wicket fell. On three consecutive occasions, Broad removed Warner for a duck.

The 34-year-old opening batsman was not able to make a strong mark in the 2019 series, only scoring a total of 92 runs, 61 of which were made in one innings.

However, Warner has since improved his form and will hope to overcome the pressures he once faced against England’s second most successful fast bowler.

James Anderson vs Steve Smith

Many reporters in 2019 speculated that Anderson’s absence to the squad was one of the main reasons Smith was able to enjoy such a sensational series.

Appearing for only four overs in the first test match of the Ashes, England bowling legend Jimmy Anderson had to bow out of the rest of the series due to a side injury. Smith went on to make 774 runs throughout the four test matches he played, only once not making at least 50 runs.

Just after the final test match of the 2019 series, Graeme Swann told Standard Sport “He’s got very lucky by the fact that Jimmy is not fit and not able to play because in these helpful conditions for the ball swinging that is Smith’s major Achilles heel.

“The last Ashes here - three Test matches when it was wet and it swung - he averaged about three and a half against Jimmy.”

With Andeson back in the picture for the 2021/2022 Ashes, England will pray that they receive some luck with the weather and Jimmy can swing the ball as skilfully as he famously does in order to control the dangerous Smith.

Jimmy Anderson will hopefully ease the building pressure of Steve Smith in this Ashes series

Pat Cummins vs Joe Root

England Captain Joe Root will have his own ‘bunny’ to face as he prepares to take on Australian bowler Pat Cummins.

Unfortunately for Root, there are three bowlers who have taken his wicket seven times and all three are Australian. Furthermore all three are highly likely to be at the Gabba in December for the opening test.

Both Nathan Lyon and Josh Hazlewood have dismissed the number one test batsman seven times in 41 and 24 innings respectively.

However, it is Pat Cummins who has achieved this feat in the least number of innings. In 19 innings, Cummins has taken Root’s wicket seven times and most famously sent the Yorkshire batter back to the dressing room for a golden duck in the second innings at Lord’s in 2019.

Both Cummins and Root have experienced an incredibly successful 2021 so far thus adding to the excitement of the ensuing battle that one will be more looking forward to facing than the other.

Pat Cummins has got Root out seven times in 19 innings

Tim Paine vs Jos Buttler

There is highly likely to be a strong battle of the wicket-keepers in the upcoming Ashes series.

This week, the Barmy Army have taken to Twitter to pull apart the Australian captain, however England’s Buttler should not rest easy as it is very plausible the Australian fan base will look to mock the Lancashire batsman in much the same way.

The Barmy Army recently noted that if Joe Root were to make 80 more runs than Tim Paine in the first two test matches, Root would have scored more test runs in 2021 than Paine had scored in his whole test career.

While Buttler most definitely has the edge over Paine in limited-overs cricket, Buttler averages only 0.7 runs more than Paine at 33.30 in his 53 Tests and actually eight runs fewer in Ashes matches.

Likely battles in the upcoming Ashes test series 2021/2022

Behind the stumps, Paine has 150 catches and seven stumpings in the 35 tests he has played, meanwhile in his 33 tests as designated England keeper, Buttler has 118 catches - although an additional 23 catches as an outfielder - and only one stumping which was taken earlier this year.

England must hope that Buttler is on form when wearing the gloves if they are to win in Australia.

Pace vs Swing

The absence of Jofra Archer and Olly Stone will most definitely be felt when the touring party arrives in Australia. Both Archer and Stone are currently recovering from injury and Root will therefore only have Mark Wood on whom to rely for producing a ball at 90 plus mph.

All three of Australia’s top bowlers, Cummins, Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc have the ability to bowl at 90mph whereas England will turn to the iconic bowling pair of Broad and Anderson to do the most damage with Ollie Robinson and Chris Woakes set to bowl alongside them.

Both Broad and Anderson have immense experience in Ashes test matches, however the England bowling unit, Anderson in particular, is much more built around accuracy and swing. Swing-bowling is a skill most impressively used when the weather is cloudy and overcast - two things an Australian summer usually is not.

The bowling battle will be a true test of who will come out on top of this year’s Ashes series

When is the first Ashes test?

The first Ashes test will start on 8 December 2021 - 12 December 2021 at the Gabba in Brisbane.

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