Since Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes first slammed their feet on the pedals, the noise around this Ashes series has been constant.


Swashbuckling England have ravaged a number of weighty opponents since the full-throttle 'Bazball' philosophy was first preached to a world-weary Test team in need of fresh impetus, a jolt into gear.

Former World Test champions New Zealand were the first to fall, 3-0 in a 2022 summer whitewash. India were toppled in the fifth and final Test of a series disrupted by COVID and concluded months after it began.

Pakistan fell on home soil, another 3-0, earlier in 2023. New Zealand came back for a second sip to draw 1-1 as England ground to a halt one single, solitary run short of another clean sweep. But Australia, Australia are different.

Armed to the teeth with bat and ball in hand, the tourists are worthy of their place at the head of the top table in world Test cricket. Can England stop them?

More like this brings you our predictions ahead of The Ashes this summer.

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The Ashes predictions 2023

England's key player

Ben Stokes
Ben Stokes Getty Images

It feels too easy to say Ben Stokes, but what he does without bat or ball in hand could define this series. Stokes's captaincy has been exemplary so far. Bold, brave, unconventional.

Pound-for-pound, England boast a batting line-up to match anyone in world cricket, though their bowling attack, while bristling with potential match-winners, looks slightly ragged.

Jimmy Anderson and Ollie Robinson are coming off injuries, Mark Wood hasn't bowled for England in England since August 2021 and Moeen Ali was probably checking our TV guide for coverage details of the Ashes as recently as last week. Stokes's captaincy, managing the fine resources at his disposal will determine England's success this summer.

Australia's key player

Watching Australia's exploits against India in the World Test Championship final was hardly a gratifying experience for the England fan, was it? England's pre-Ashes warm-up saw Ireland demolished inside three days, while home fans were forced to watch Australia enjoy five days of rust-shaking against elite opposition under the baking sun at Lord's. Ideal for the tourists.

'Bazball' has taken centre stage in the build-up to the series, naturally leading the conversation towards whether England's batting line-up can enjoy such fruitful innings' under the probing conditions provided by Australia's all-action bowling attack, all the while Steve Smith has gone about his business in a cool, composed, collected manner. He racked up scores of at least 80 in seven of his last nine innings for Australia on English pitches, including his 121 at the Oval against India last week. Without a doubt, taking Smith early is the No.1 dream scenario for England in each innings.

Breakout star of The Ashes?

Cameron Green
Cameron Green Getty Images

Harry Brook has already broken out for England, but he could skyrocket from rising hot talent to fully-fledged star over the course of this summer. His seven caps for England are book-ended by 12 and a DNB against South Africa, and 9* and DNB against Ireland. He recorded an astonishing 797 runs in just five matches between, including another DNB, 9 and a duck. His 81.80 batting average must surely take a tumble against an elite unit such as Australia, but maturely aggressive innings this summer will see his stock explode upwards.

For Australia, Cameron Green is the next big superstar to roll off the never-ending conveyor belt Down Under. The all-rounder boasts 21 caps by the age of 24 and is a land, sea and aerial threat for the Aussies. With a 33.84 bowling average, 36 dead-on batting average – that has been creeping up year-on-year since his debut – and 21 catches in 21 matches, he is tracing Stokes's Test career record with eerie accuracy. Like Brook, he is hardly a hidden talent, but this could be his moment to seize the next rung on the ladder to greatness.

Who will win The Ashes?

The Ashes 2023
Who will lift the urn? Getty Images

This should be a far closer affair than in 2021/22. Let me rephrase that, this must be a closer affair than in 2021/22. From the moment Mitchell Starc dismantled Rory Burns with the first ball of the series Down Under, it just felt... over. Edgbaston is a far more favourable launchpad for England to begin their journey in 2023 and so much about this team, the well-documented style shift, captaincy and confidence, feels different to pre-2021/22.

This one has the feel of a series going all the way. Both teams are blessed with deep batting stables with the likes of Joe Root and the returning Jonny Bairstow among a number of England players capable of racking up centuries against any team.

However, that bowling fragility is cause for concern for England. Jack Leach is a big loss, Moeen Ali is a wildcard gamble, and cotton wool manufacturers won't believe their luck as Anderson, Robinson and Wood must be tightly swaddled in between Tests.

For this reason, the settled, ominous nature of Australia right through their squad means they are the favourites to win their first Ashes series in England since 2001.

Zak, Ben, Oliver, Joseph, Harry, Benjamin, Jonathan, Moeen, Stuart, Oliver and James, you know what to do.

Read more: Best cricket players in the world 2023 | Best cricket players of all time | Highest wicket takers in Ashes history | Highest run scorers in Ashes history

How to watch The Ashes on TV

You can watch The Ashes live on Sky Sports Cricket and Main Event.

You can upgrade to the Sky Sports Cricket channel from just £15 per month as part of a limited time deal or pick up the complete sports package from just £24 per month.

Live stream The Ashes online

Sky Sports customers can live stream The Ashes via the Sky Go app on a variety of devices including most smartphones and tablets as part of their subscription.

You can also watch The Ashes via NOW without signing up to a contract.

NOW can be streamed through a computer or apps found on most smart TVs, phones and consoles. NOW is also available via BT Sport.

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