The Ashes 2019 is set to start from August 1 onwards at Edgbaston. Batting will play a massive role in England as seen over the last few editions here. The Aussies go into Ashes 2019 as the defenders of the urn, after enjoying a famous 4-0 win in the 2017-18 series. One thing that defined that edition was some superb batting led by Steve Smith.
Australia hasn’t won the Ashes here on English soil since 2001. The last time they were here was in 2015. England won the series by a 3-2 margin after leading a comeback. Aussies are generally strong starters. The first Test is something they eye upon and look more settled. This summer the idea will be the same for Tim Paine-led Australia.
Can the 2019 edition of the Ashes be governed by batting prowess? The challenge for the batsmen will be to negotiate against quality pacers both teams possess. Expect them to hunt in packs. It will be a crucial test and a strong challenge on offer.
Here we look at five batsmen across both teams, who could have maximum influence.
Steve Smith can govern the Aussies
When Steve Smith bats freely with so much aura and panache, it is hard to stop him. He is one of the best when it comes to the Test format. Smith’s unorthodox technique, ability to play the ball late and look for strike rotations makes him a crucial prospect. He made his return to the Aussie set-up at the 2019 World Cup, after a 12-month ban for a ball-tampering scandal.
He had a decent World Cup and settled in well. But, Test cricket is Smith’s forte. He excels here and breathes easily. When you look at the 2017-18 Ashes, Smith was at his sublime best. He helped Australia dominate the show at home and scored 687 runs at an average of 137.40. He also smashed three hundreds and two fifties.
When Smith thrives in such rich form, it is often impossible to stop the run-flow. Come Ashes 2019, Smith will be eyeing to be the rock of the Australian side.
Joe Root: The face of England cricket
England skipper Joe Root holds the aces for England in a tricky and intense summer. Fresh from winning the World Cup in July, confidence will be running high on the Test skipper’s mind. Root will be wanting to showcase his worth and stand up against a world class Aussie pace attack in Ashes 2019. Being at home, nobody understands the conditions better than Root.
In the 2017-18 Ashes, Root always had those strong starts after settling in well. But what agonised the fans was his inability to transform his knocks. He scored five fifties with a best of 83. Root had amassed 378 runs for his side. But there was no century. To win an Ashes Test, you need to score big runs. This will be a test for Root to transform his approach here.
He has been dominating the ODIs and getting those hundreds. Now it’s time that he shifts the energy into Test cricket.
Cameron Bancroft: The man with a mission
Cameron Bancroft was banned by Cricket Australia for the infamous ball-tampering scandal in 2018 alongside Smith and David Warner. He was handed a 9-month ban. The opener made a return to domestic cricket on December 30 in the Big Bash League. Since then, it was Bancroft’s form in County Cricket that set him apart.
CA recalled him to the side on the back of some strong performances with the bat. He has seen piling on the runs for Durham. In June 2019, the 26-year-old amassed 158 against Sussex. That was followed by impressive knocks of 77 and 92* against Lancashire. Earlier this month, Bancroft smashed a grueling 109 against Leicestershire.
Overall, the opening batsman has featured in eight Tests for Australia. He averages 30.92 with the bat. Can he come good?
Jos Buttler: England’s potent match-winner
The best part about Buttler is that he can come in at a time and diminish an opposition attack. Whenever England are in a spot of bother, expect the match-winner Buttler to provide a value for his wicket. He hardly fails with the willow. The 2019 World Cup winner is a serious threat for the Aussies in Ashes 2019. He gives England that extra edge. They find comfort in Buttler.
He has scored 1,722 runs in 31 Tests at an average of 35.88. Buttler has also registered one ton and 14 fifties. That’s a strong tally for someone as versatile as him. With the Ashes being the most fiercest rivalry, Buttler’s strong mentality can suffice for the English. He will be expected to provide that bit of fresh air.
David Warner can be Australia’s dynamite
Since his return from the 12-month ban for the ball-tampering scandal, Warner has been pivotal for the sides he has represented. He was the top run-getter in the 12th edition of the Indian Premier League and won the prestigious Orange Cap. Warner then ended as the second-highest run-scorer in the 2019 World Cup.
His value, determination and eye for runs are unmatched. Warner is a strong asset for any side. That’s what makes him a reliable player. With all the experience under his belt, the southpaw can determine Australia’s show with a strong start upfront. In 2017-18 Ashes, he amassed 441 runs for the Aussies at 63.00.
With the Ashes 2019 expected to be his last, expect Warner to seize the chance. He is strong mentally and that’s the biggest plus.