Seldom there is a period in the history of the sport that a nation can push the boundaries of glory. Teams that achieve it stamp their class on the sport and leave a lasting impression for generations. England is on the cusp of truly something special. Having secured World Cup glory for the first time, England now has a chance to make the Summer of 2019 golden by reclaiming the Ashes Urn and getting the better of their old enemy, Australia in the upcoming five-Test series. There is added significance in this particular series as it will be the first clash under the new World Test Championship. Every series will now have relevance for the next two years and it will culminate with a clash between the top two teams in a final Test match at Lord's on June 2021.
For England, this is a time of revelry not matched since the 2005 Ashes when they finally reclaimed the Urn after 16 years in a pulsating contest that was won 2-1. Each match pushed the dimensions and enriched Test cricket. It was fitting that the old rivalry in one of the marquee series in the cricket calendar led the revival of cricket's most revered and oldest format. Following the end of the World Cup, cricket enters a new era when there will be a major championship that will span a couple of years.
Australia will be hurting after losing in the semi-final to England. They return to Edgbaston, a venue that has given them plenty of hurts ever since 2005 when they lost by three runs and have lost ODIs on a consistent basis. However, they will also be entering a new phase when some of their tainted stars make their comeback after being suspended for close to a year. The return of Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft gives Australia's batting solidity but they will also be a target for fans who will waste no opportunity in reminding them of their yellow misdemeanour which was sandpapergate.
Australia has not won a series in England since 2001 and they will be desperate to deny England a chance of double glory and build on the gains that have taken place under coach Justin Langer. This is a fresh beginning for both teams, with Steve Waugh, the former Australian skipper and the one who hurt England the most, emphatically stating that "England's World Cup win will have no bearing for the Ashes."
Also Read | Aussies might get a bit of stick on sandpapergate by the crowd: Joe Denly
With plenty of verbal jousting, mind games and hostility, the Ashes is all set to resume in a big way and with plenty at stake.
England has announced that Joe Root, the skipper will bat at No.3 and Joe Denly, witnessing a second birth in his international career at No.4. More than the top order, it is England's lower middle order that is brilliant with the presence of Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow. The opening combination of Jason Roy and Rory Burns could potentially set-up the game for England or put pressure on the middle order due to their inexperience. With the return of James Anderson, England's bowling gets a different dimension altogether. With Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes masters in conditions which will suit them, England's pace bowling department gives them the edge. With Moeen Ali as the spinner in the side, it will be a question of whether they can bowl well in combinations.
For Australia, the return of Steve Smith and David Warner boosts the batting tremendously. With Usman Khawaja in fine form and with Cameron Bancroft's solidity at the top, Australia's batting is in good hands. The bowling has plenty of riches, with James Pattinson returning back to the Test fold after three years.
With Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Peter Siddle in the line-up along with Nathan Lyon, Australia's bowling is potent and looking in good shape for these England conditions.
Who will win?
Looking at the past history and England's record at this venue, they are the favourites heading into the clash against Australia. Edgbaston has been a fortress for the hosts and looking at current form, they will be favourites to get their Ashes campaign off to a great start.
Weather and pitch
There is little chance of rain in the first three days but on day four and five, there are some chances of rain. The Edgbaston wicket has assisted both pace and spin and with the surface drying out as the Test match progresses, spin will hold the key
2008 - The last time England tasted defeat in a Test at Edgbaston, which was against South Africa where Graeme Smith scored a hundred in the fourth innings. Since then, they have remained unbeaten.
Stadium and timings
The match will be played at Edgbaston, Birmingham and the match will begin at 3:30 PM IST.