Burning questions for Australia men’s cricket team tour of England
Who opens with Usman Khawaja and will it be the same opener the whole time?
David Warner now looks likely to open alongside Khawaja in the Test World Cup final against India at the Oval, but things get darker from there. Head coach Andrew McDonald has specifically omitted any reference to the Ashes in his endorsement of Warner as a Test player and there is a view that the clash with India in the WTC Finals could be an opportune moment for Warner to bid farewell to Test cricket. Should that happen, Matt Renshaw and Cameron Bancroft appear the likeliest contenders to bat with Khawaja in the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston. Travis Head opened in India but will resume his role as a mid-order counterpuncher against the approaching Dukes ball.
How can Pat Cummins and Steve Smith improve their teamwork as captains in the face of Bazball?
One of the great insights Smith offered during his time as reserve captain in India was that while plans can evolve fairly steadily in Australia, a very different level of speed was required in the turning conditions in South Asia. In England, where weather and pitch conditions can vary wildly over the course of a session, let alone five days, Cummins and Smith need to strike a good balance that combines the former’s stability and the latter’s initiative. That could be truer than ever as Australia look to counter the quick ‘bazball’ approach that England have been taking at Test level lately. Especially at the racquet, this relentless attacking style requires that the captain and vice-captain work in harmony.
Australia’s 2023 test tour of England
- 7-11 June: ICC World Test Championship Finals – Australia vs. India – at The Oval
- 16-20 June: First ash test, Edgbaston
- June 28 – July 2: Second Ashes Test, Lord’s
- 6-10 July: Third Ashes Test, Headingley
- 19-23 July: Fourth Ashes Test, Old Trafford
- July 27-31: Fifth Ashes Test, The Oval
Is Smith capable of another performance like Ashes 2019?
As he led in the last two Tests, the India series was a huge disappointment for Smith in terms of his influence on the pasture. India were delighted not to concede even half a century to Smith in four games; a stark contrast to his performances there in 2017.
Smith’s best streak was Ashes in 2019 when his performances at-bat were the main factor in Australia’s retention of the ballot box. Smith’s technical and tactical work in 2022 set him free as a player in Australia and led to some eye-popping white ball shows. But when it comes to England, Smith, 33, has the task of proving he can once again dominate an Ashes series.