It’s almost time for the long-awaited series between England and Australia, as Joe Root’s side attempt to regain the famous urn.

A humbling experience down under 18 months ago saw England outplayed as Australia won four out of five Tests.

Fast forward to this series and the mood surrounding English cricket has significantly improved on the back of a victorious World Cup on home soil.

Fans were spectacularly brought back down to earth with the worrying capitulation against Ireland at Lord’s but despite a poor showing, England still bounced back with Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad dismantling the Irish batting line-up on the third day.

The frailties of England’s batting line-up are still apparent. For so long it was a case of finding an opening partner for Alastair Cook but now the hosts are looking for two permanent openers, which is a worry with the likes of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood on the horizon.

Much will depend on how Jason Roy and Rory Burns perform, both are unproven in Test cricket but if they can safely negotiate the new ball more often than not, it will mean that a talented middle order containing Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler can arrive at the crease when the ball gets a bit softer.

For all of the concerns at the top of the order, England’s pace department is an embarrassment of riches at the moment. Woakes and Broad did well against Ireland, throw in James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood and Sum Curran and its clear that England have several options to call on throughout the series.

The tourists meanwhile haven’t been in great form in their warm-up matches but there is no doubting the quality they possess.

David Warner and Steve Smith will once again be the pantomime villains after being booed throughout the World Cup but it’s a role that they will both relish. They will both go after England’s pace attack and they’ve had success in the past.

The bowling attack outclassed England in Australia but will they be able to match the skills of Anderson and Broad in English conditions?

It promises to be another classic instalment of the greatest rivalry in cricket and with two evenly matched teams, anything could happen!

Prediction: England’s bowling attack will out-bowl the visitors on home soil but England’s batting demons will resurface throughout the series. Both teams are better with the ball than they are with the bat, and if the weather holds out its hard to see any match going five days. England 3 Australia 2.

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by Matt Gibbs at Rewards4Cricket

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