2013 has been a fantastic year for British sport so far and now the spotlight is on the England cricket team ahead of this year’s Ashes series which begins on Wednesday.
The British and Irish Lions claimed their first test series win for 16 years on Saturday followed by Andy Murray’s glorious Wimbledon triumph on Sunday which saw him become the first British winner of the tournament in 77 years.
The attention now turns to the cricket field as England attempt to retain the Ashes series once more.
After years of fruitless Ashes series, England have tasted relative success over the past decade or so. The 2005 series win marked the end of the 16 year dominance of Australia who had won every series between 1989 and 2002/03.
Australia took their home series over the winter of 2006/07 but the last two series have been won by England and a hat-trick of victories, the first since 1956, would round off a perfect summer for British sport.
The campaign gets underway tomorrow at Trent Bridge and will then visit Lord’s, Old Trafford in Manchester, Chester-Le-Street in County Durham before concluding at The Oval on August 25th.
England will go into the series quietly confident after recent test series wins in India at the back end of last year before beating New Zealand in a two-test series earlier this year.
They also reached the final of the final of the ICC Champions Trophy a couple of weeks ago and are currently ranked third in the ICC test series rankings.
The series will also be the first time that Alastair Cook has lead the team in the Ashes after taking on the captaincy for the test side back in August 2012.
On the team news side, coaches Andy Flower and Ashley Giles have elected to select Joe Root in favour of Nick Compton as opening batsman, after the young Yorkshire man returned to the squad in the pre-series match against Essex.
The visitors haven’t had an ideal preparation ahead of the series having been whitewashed 4-0 by India in a series back in February and March.
Add that to the embarrassing incident during the ICC Champions Trophy which saw batsman David Warner banned after punching Joe Root in a Birmingham bar after the match at Edgbaston.
However, they’ll be looking to turn the negativity around and have put in encouraging performances against Somerset and Worcestershire as part of their build-up to the series.
In terms of winning the series outright, the bookies currently have England down as fairly significant favourites and the best odds can be found at Paddy Power who offer 2/5.
Stan James provide the most generous odds for Australia winning back the Ashes at 5/1.
In terms of the first test, which begins at 11am tomorrow, England are again favourites with Sportingbet offering the best odds of 17/20.
You can watch the match live on Sky Sports Ashes (Sky Sports 2) with highlights being provided on Channel 5 later in the evening.
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