Johnny Bairstow was three centuries short of his first show in nearly eight months. Photo: PA/Danny Lawson
The Ashes start in a month and here's how the two teams are forming and the series is just around the corner.
Mixed. Ollie Pope, Zach Crowley and Ben Duckett have scored hundreds of points in the first division of the championship. Crowley's 170 against Essex is backed by two fifties and four single digits (as well as 11) at an average of 38, but at least that's higher than his career record.
He will still look over his shoulder. Pope averages 58 years old, and Duckett scored a good hundred on Lord's. Both are safe. Johnny Barstow looked awkward for Yorkshire but that was to be expected after such a long break. As for other batsmen, it's not very pleasant to read.
Harry Brook is out of the IPL, Ben Stokes is currently unable to get a game for Chennai and is heading home on Saturday after their last group game and Joe Root played one innings for Rajasthan – 10 of 15 balls. Apparently, he spent most of the time in the net facing the red ball.
Ollie Robinson bowls majestically for the Sussex and Stuart Broad put the overs on his feet, as did James Anderson until the weekend when he got injured. Jack Leach is ticking for Somerset with 14 wickets at 33 in a quiet time for the spinners.
Ollie Robinson put in another stunning performance, taking 14 wickets at New Road. Photo: Reuters/Andrew Boyers
At least he plays and plays bowling, which is not always the case at this time of year. Ben Fawkes will be nervous about his place, but he's averaging 52 out of 100. What else can he do?
Steve Smith's tenure in the county was a disappointment to him and perhaps a good thing for England. He only managed two innings out of four due to Sussex batting only once in every game he played and missing straight balls twice due to weight loss. Robinson keeps a close eye on the nets for any weaknesses and reports back to the bowling team.
Smith's highlight so far has been a dazzling catch in Leicester. This week, Smith will have another match in Hove against Glamorgan, where he will face Marnus Labouchagn, his Australian clone.
Steve Smith, this is a ridiculous catch!#LVCountyChamp pic.twitter.com/AoEotk10sy
— LV= Insurance County Championship (@CountyChamp) May 14, 2023
Labushan scored 170 last week, averaged 72 over six innings, and went from part-time to sideline by taking four of 81 against Durham. . Can we see this in Ashes as a breach of partnership?
Newcomer Marcus Harris got off to a strong start for Gloucestershire but slowed down in the later rounds. Potential substitutes not currently in the Ashes – Sean Abbott and Michael Neser – are gaining form and confidence for Surrey and Glamorgan. Nesser is due to join the Aussies pre-Ashes training camp.
Cam Green has had his IPL ups and downs for Mumbai, Josh Hazlewood is also in India and has made preliminary moves while recovering from a longtime injury as David Warner's soap opera continues.
He broke 23 goals over the weekend, but his team Delhi became the first team to be knocked out of the semi-finals. Pat Cummins, Mitchell Stark and Nathan Lyon are senior players resting with their feet up.
Jofra Archer is out for the entire Ash summer, Anderson doubts Ashes' first test, while Ollie Stone is also out in competitions. Bowling is still a problem for the Stokes, and would-be understudies Brydon Kars and Jamie Overton are also injured.
Mark Wood returned from the IPL in time for the baby having played just four games, the last of which was a month ago. At least he's in good shape and pushing forward, so that's good news. England must be wondering why Anderson played for Lancashire against Somerset last week, given that Broad and Woakes were both rested. suffered a groin injury while bowling on the opening day of Lancashire's match against Somerset. Photo: Getty Images/Harry Trump
Anderson played enough to get his county back on track, but Lancashire didn't win a game in the First Division, so he may have felt the need to continue the season. This could cost England dearly. Saqib Mahmoud hit 38 overs for Lancashire in a deadly boring draw against Somerset as he feels he is coming back after missing the previous two rounds. IPL bowlers and senior players either decide to gradually warm up to the championship or take a well deserved break. Hazlewood survived two years of injury and is slowly recovering from an Achilles tendon problem.
He played three games for the RCB in eight days, but whether he can play long red ball spells again is unknown. He has only made three Tests since the last Ashes series, but with the arrival of Scott Boland and his suitability for English fields, he may not be considered as important as he once was to Australia's hopes.
What the teams are saying
Nathan “Lion”: “Look how they [England] played against New Zealand, South Africa and Pakistan, they were able to panic the opposition. We just have to worry about ourselves.”
Stuart Broad (in full Australian mode): “I wrote this [last ashes] off as a blank episode.”
The biggest problem
For England is to keep their Bowlers fit and getting the most out of Anderson and Wood at the right time. For Australia, this ensures they are not undercooked as county matches are not scheduled until after the first ash test.
They play golf in Liverpool instead and rely on the Test Championship final against India at the Oval for preparation, but it will only feature 11 players. Warner will need runs in this match to stop rumors of his place and the inevitable escalation of his confrontation with his kryptonite – Broad.
England have injury issues but their batting is settled, more so than in Australia, and they know exactly how they're going to approach the series. Australia is less confident about its Bazball response.
What do you expect from Ashes this year? Join the discussion in the comments section below