4 striking similarities between the last two Ashes series
The ICC has breathed fresh life into the sport with the introduction of the Test Championship. The inaugural competition will see its finale take place on June 2021 at Lord's. All Test-playing nations have their eyes set on the big prize in their bid to be reckoned as the champions of the longest and most prestigious format of the game.
Every match will count going forward, and wins achieved away from home will be worth their weight in gold. The 2019 Ashes was the first mega-series in the Test championship, and it won't be wrong to say that England and Australia delivered one of the most enthralling Test series of all time.
The Aussies drew the series and gained some valuable points. They now head back home full of confidence, having retained the Ashes.
While the recently-concluded series was evenly-matched, the 2017-18 series was less so, ending 4-0 in favour of Australia. That said, there were quite a few striking similarities between the two series; here is a look at four of them:
#1 Major absentees for England
Ben Stokes' infamous brawl in Bristol caused him to miss the tour of Australia in 2017. His absence was severely felt by the English camp, who lost 4-0 to the hosts.
While they were by no means the favourites in that series, it is fair to say that the English unit looked like severely depleted without Stokes.
All cricket fans will agree that the only way to defeat the Aussies in Australia is to take the fight to them, which is why England truly missed their talisman Down Under. Stokes is one of the fiercest competitors around, and his presence would've made a big difference to how England approached the series.
Things were a bit different in 2019 as Joe Root embraced the challenge of winning back the urn, but his plans were hit when James Anderson was taken off after bowling just four overs. England's all-time leading wicket-taker played no further part in the series as the home team failed to regain the Ashes.
Root and Co missed their swing bowling messiah, and it won't be far-fetched to say that the story could've been different had Anderson been fit.
Also see – World Test Championship Schedule