A thrilling Cricket World Cup captured the attention worldwide and all eyes will be on the sport once more as the Ashes begins this week.

This historic series might not be the easiest to understand for anyone who is still new to the sport having been gripped by the incredible finale to the ODI showpiece at Lord's earlier this month.

So what is the Ashes and where does it get its name? Who are the key figures? 

We bring you all the details of England and Australia's long rivalry.


What is the Ashes?

The Ashes is a five-match Test cricket series contested between England and Australia. It is considered the pinnacle of the long-format of the game due to the intense and long-running rivalry of the nations, dating back to their involvement in the first officially recognised Test match in 1877.

But the Ashes did not emerge as a concept until 1882, in the aftermath of Australia's shock seven-run win in the lone international fixture of their tour to the United Kingdom.

In a mock obituary published by the Sporting Times, British journalist Reginald Shirley Brooks wrote: "In affectionate remembrance of English cricket which died at The Oval, 29th August, 1882.

"Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances, RIP. NB The body will be cremated and the Ashes taken to Australia."

England sailed Down Under later that year with the intention of recovering the hypothetical Ashes, drawing 2-2, and the battle for ownership has continued for well over a century.

What is the prize?

Those Ashes, said to be contained in an urn, are exactly what the two sides are still playing for in 2019.

The delicate urn remains on display at Lord's, with the MCC instead commissioning a larger crystal trophy in the 1990s following discussions with both teams.

That trophy is presented to the winning captain at the end of the series, yet it is the urn which still represents bragging rights in the minds of many, with several songs and poems written about bringing it "home".


Which nation has been more successful?

England have the chance to even the Ashes ledger at 33 series victories each after Australia edged ahead in the count courtesy of a commanding 4-0 home win in 2017-18. 

Five out of the 70 series contested since 1882 have ended in a draw and Australia also hold the advantage in terms of individual Test match wins, with 134 to England's 106, with 90 draws.

Recent history, however, does not favour Tim Paine's team: England have not been beaten in an Ashes series on home soil since 2001.


Who are the key players?

Australia welcome back star batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner following the end of respective 12-month bans for their roles in a ball-tampering incident that also involved Cameron Bancroft - another member of this year's Ashes squad - against South Africa in March 2018. The trio are back in an international squad together for the first time since that controversial incident.

Australia's strength otherwise lies in their bowling: vice-captain Pat Cummins is the top-ranked Test bowler in the world, while left-armer Mitchell Starc took the most wickets in the recent World Cup.

England won that tournament on home soil, making heroes of a new generation. Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler, both influential in the nail-biting Super Over defeat of New Zealand in the final, are among the game's most thrilling batsmen to watch and form part of a dangerous line-up, which also contains captain and linchpin Joe Root.

Experienced seamer James Anderson and partner in crime Stuart Broad have tormented Australia in English conditions over the past decade, although there is a slight fitness concern over the former.

When and where are the matches happening?

The series begins at Edgbaston in Birmingham on Thursday. The teams then reconvene in London at Lord's - usually described as the "Home of Cricket" - on August 14 before squaring off at Headingley in Leeds from August 22. 

Manchester's Old Trafford plays host to the fourth Test, starting on September 4, and the series concludes in a fifth Test at The Oval - again in London. That match begins on September 12.

A thrilling Cricket World Cup captured the attention worldwide and all eyes will be on the sport once more as the Ashes begins this week.

This historic series might not be the easiest to understand for anyone who is still new to the sport having been gripped by the incredible finale to the ODI showpiece at Lord's earlier this month.

So what is the Ashes and where does it get its name? Who are the key figures? 

We bring you all the details of England and Australia's long rivalry.


What is the Ashes?

The Ashes is a five-match Test cricket series contested between England and Australia. It is considered the pinnacle of the long-format of the game due to the intense and long-running rivalry of the nations, dating back to their involvement in the first officially recognised Test match in 1877.

But the Ashes did not emerge as a concept until 1882, in the aftermath of Australia's shock seven-run win in the lone international fixture of their tour to the United Kingdom.

In a mock obituary published by the Sporting Times, British journalist Reginald Shirley Brooks wrote: "In affectionate remembrance of English cricket which died at The Oval, 29th August, 1882.

"Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances, RIP. NB The body will be cremated and the Ashes taken to Australia."

England sailed Down Under later that year with the intention of recovering the hypothetical Ashes, drawing 2-2, and the battle for ownership has continued for well over a century.

What is the prize?

Those Ashes, said to be contained in an urn, are exactly what the two sides are still playing for in 2019.

The delicate urn remains on display at Lord's, with the MCC instead commissioning a larger crystal trophy in the 1990s following discussions with both teams.

That trophy is presented to the winning captain at the end of the series, yet it is the urn which still represents bragging rights in the minds of many, with several songs and poems written about bringing it "home".


Which nation has been more successful?

England have the chance to even the Ashes ledger at 33 series victories each after Australia edged ahead in the count courtesy of a commanding 4-0 home win in 2017-18. 

Five out of the 70 series contested since 1882 have ended in a draw and Australia also hold the advantage in terms of individual Test match wins, with 134 to England's 106, with 90 draws.

Recent history, however, does not favour Tim Paine's team: England have not been beaten in an Ashes series on home soil since 2001.


Who are the key players?

Australia welcome back star batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner following the end of respective 12-month bans for their roles in a ball-tampering incident that also involved Cameron Bancroft - another member of this year's Ashes squad - against South Africa in March 2018. The trio are back in an international squad together for the first time since that controversial incident.

Australia's strength otherwise lies in their bowling: vice-captain Pat Cummins is the top-ranked Test bowler in the world, while left-armer Mitchell Starc took the most wickets in the recent World Cup.

England won that tournament on home soil, making heroes of a new generation. Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler, both influential in the nail-biting Super Over defeat of New Zealand in the final, are among the game's most thrilling batsmen to watch and form part of a dangerous line-up, which also contains captain and linchpin Joe Root.

Experienced seamer James Anderson and partner in crime Stuart Broad have tormented Australia in English conditions over the past decade, although there is a slight fitness concern over the former.

When and where are the matches happening?

The series begins at Edgbaston in Birmingham on Thursday. The teams then reconvene in London at Lord's - usually described as the "Home of Cricket" - on August 14 before squaring off at Headingley in Leeds from August 22. 

Manchester's Old Trafford plays host to the fourth Test, starting on September 4, and the series concludes in a fifth Test at The Oval - again in London. That match begins on September 12.

Returning Australia Test stars Steve Smith and David Warner can silence critics in the England crowd by starting strongly in the Ashes, says former star Glenn McGrath.

Smith and Warner are set to play in the longest format this week for the first time since they served bans for their roles in a ball-tampering fiasco in South Africa last year.

The pair endured some light jibing from supporters during the Cricket World Cup in England and Wales, but it is anticipated Test returns at Edgbaston might see a harsher welcome.

McGrath believes the best way for Smith and Warner to respond will be to make a fast start in Birmingham on Thursday.

"I think they are professional and they're both two quality players, both fairly mentally tough as well," McGrath said of the duo.

"It's important to get off to a good start. If they get off to a good start, start scoring runs and answer with the bat, then they'll be fine.

"They've got a little bit of a taste of it during the World Cup - I think, in a couple of matches against England, the crowd let them know what was coming up - so they'll be expecting it.

"But if they go out there and score runs, it'll make it better for them."

Warner sustained a bruise to his left thigh on Monday, but England also have fitness concerns, with James Anderson facing a race to be fit for the opener.

And McGrath sees Anderson as key to home hopes in the upcoming series.

"I think [seam] will have an impact, there's no doubt about that," he said. "Jimmy Anderson has got so much experience.

"I think he's played 148 Tests, about 575 wickets, I think I saw the other day, which is absolutely incredible. And when the conditions suit him, with that Dukes ball, he's better than anyone on the planet.

"The Australian batsmen have to adapt to that and get on top of him. And the Australian bowlers have to adjust and adapt to bowling different lengths here to what they do back home.

"It will have a big impact and the Dukes cricket ball just feels so good in the hand - big seam and happy days."

Virat Kohli has offered a strong response to reports he has fallen out with India vice-captain Rohit Sharma, insisting "we have had no issues".

There has been speculation over a rift between Kohli and his deputy Rohit since India were beaten in the Cricket World Cup semi-finals by New Zealand.

However, Kohli repeatedly described such stories as "baffling", "ridiculous" and "disrespectful" as he addressed the media on Monday.

The India skipper insists he has a good relationship with Rohit and the rest of his team-mates, questioning the reason for such reporting, given a lack of evidence.

"In my opinion, it is baffling, to be honest," he told a news conference. "It is absolutely ridiculous to read such stuff.

"I have been to public events and the public says to me, 'We have so much respect for you'.

"We are feeding off lies, we are overlooking facts and we are turning a blind eye to all the good things that have happened, creating fantasies and scenarios in our heads, wanting to accept this is the truth.

"I've seen this for too long now, bringing personal lives into the picture, it's disrespectful honestly. I've played the game for 11 years, Rohit's played the game for 10 years.

"It's bizarre that people are creating this on the outside. It baffles you as a leader, as a coach, as a team when lies are being floated around and are being made to look like they are believable. It's actually very disrespectful, to be honest."

Kohli added he does not understand who would benefit from claims that would do more harm than good to Indian cricket.

"If I don't like a person or if I'm insecure with a person, you will see that on my face or in my behaviour to a person - that's how simple it is," he continued.

"I have always praised Rohit whenever I have had an opportunity because I believe he is that good. We have had no issues. As I said, it's baffling, to be honest.

"I don't know who is benefiting from all of this. We here are living, breathing, working towards getting Indian cricket to the top. And here there are people who get some kind of pleasure in bringing it down.

"I don't understand how that works. You work hard for four years to bring a team from seven to one [in the world rankings], and after four years, what are we talking about?

"Within the team, it's for everyone to see our camaraderie and friendship - and it's evident on the field. You can't play with that kind of passion if people don't get along with each other. It's as simple as that.

"It's baffling and it's time we focus on bringing Indian cricket forward and not on things that are not even there at the moment."

David Warner suffered a bruised thigh in training on Monday, dealing Australia a potential blow ahead of their Ashes opener.

The tourists were preparing on the Edgbaston pitch before the first Test against England, which starts on Thursday, when Warner inside-edged a ball from Michael Neser into his left thigh.

He was pictured receiving attention from medical staff and was required to treat the injury with ice.

Warner is set to be a key man for Australia in this series, the opener playing Test cricket again for the first time since the fateful tour of South Africa last year.

Vice-captain at the time, Warner - along with then-skipper Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft - were each banned for their roles in a ball-tampering scandal.

The trio are all in the Australia Ashes squad, together for the first time since serving their suspensions, as Australia look to retain the urn.

 

England, meanwhile, were boosted by James Anderson being able to bowl on Monday.

The leader of England's pace attack wore a compression sock on his right leg as he continues to recover from a calf injury sustained playing for Lancashire.

Jofra Archer is in line to make his Test bow having recovered from a side strain, an injury he played with during England's successful World Cup campaign.

Marnus Labuschagne is confident in his ability to make an impact with bat and ball for Australia after earning a debut Ashes call-up.

The all-rounder was selected as part of the 17-man touring squad for the five-match series with England, which begins on Thursday at Edgbaston.

Labuschagne has enjoyed a stunning season for Glamorgan in County Championship Division Two. He leads the competition with 1,114 runs at an average of 65.52 with five hundreds and five half-centuries.

A leg-spinner, Labuschagne has also taken 19 wickets for Glamorgan and, though he is not quite sure where he will be asked to bat, he has little doubt he can deliver what is asked of him.

"I'm not sure where I'll be batting if I'm playing," Labuschagne said. "Wherever it is I'll be able to fill that role and at times I'll be called on to bowl, which is great because I've been doing that the whole summer here in county cricket, it's been a good opportunity to get some overs under my belt."

Labuschagne scored just 47 runs across two innings in a warm-up match between Australia and Australia A in which he was asked to bowl only one over.

Asked if he was confident he would make the squad after that outing, he replied: "I think me personally being here the whole summer, I obviously scored some runs and was really happy with where my game was at that stage.

"For me, coming into that game it was about really trusting what I've been doing the whole season and trusting my preparation and then just going out and enjoying it, whichever way it was swung was the way it was and it was obviously great to be on this end."

Forget about the Cricket World Cup – that is old news. England may have prevailed (thanks to the boundary count) on home soil to be crowned champions, but there is little time to bask in the glory.

Just over two weeks after that unforgettable final against New Zealand, the focus switches to Test action and the small matter of the Ashes.

Australia are holders of the urn following their 4-0 success on home soil in 2017-18. However, they have not triumphed on English soil since 2001, when a star-studded side led by Steve Waugh and including Adam Gilchrist, Glenn McGrath, Ricky Ponting and Shane Warne proved to be far too strong for Nasser Hussain's team.

Since then, though, England have dominated in their own backyard. Can they continue their dominance, or will an away team succeed for the first time since 2010-11?

Ahead of the 2019 edition of the series, three Omnisport journalists have offered predictions for what might unfold in the coming weeks.

 

LIAM BLACKBURN

Winner and score: England (3-2)

You would be a brave man to bet against Joe Root's team in their own conditions given England have not lost a Test series at home since 2014 – when Sri Lanka edged a two-match contest. The Australian aura was gone after 2005 and this is an England team largely made up of players still residing on cloud nine after the thrilling World Cup triumph. England are not infallible – see that fragile top order for evidence – but, conversely, there should be little to fear from an Australia side that has been bowled out for less than 300 on 15 occasions in their previous 12 Tests.

Leading run-scorer: Steve Smith

In eight of those 12 Tests, Australia were without Cameron Bancroft, David Warner and Smith due to their suspensions following the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa. It is Smith – a man who was still top of the ICC's Test batting rankings during part of his ban – who England will fear the most. He scored the most runs (508) four years ago in England, was also the leading run-scorer (687) in the most recent Ashes in Australia and registered four half-centuries in the World Cup to suggest he has not lost his touch.

Leading wicket-taker: James Anderson

This may be his last Ashes hurrah but Anderson, who should overcome a calf problem to feature at Edgbaston, can bow out with a bang. Ignore the 36-year-old's recent figures on flatter tracks in Sri Lanka and the Caribbean – when he took 11 wickets across five Tests – and instead focus on the most recent home series against India, Pakistan and West Indies, in conditions tailor-made for the seamer. Anderson was England's leading wicket-taker in each of the three series and in this Ashes, he will be handed his weapon of choice – the Dukes ball with a bigger seam that saw him do such damage in 2017 and 2018.

 

ROB LANCASTER

Winner and score: Draw (2-2 - Australia retain the Ashes)

Lunch. Tea. Rain stopping play. Top-order collapses. They are about the only certainties heading into this Ashes series, along with Bancroft, Smith and Warner being greeted by boos each time they come out to bat. Both teams have a conveyor belt of pace bowlers but serious holes in their batting line-ups. Whoever can work out the best options to plug those gaps may well end up being victorious. With that in mind, it may finally be time for the home dominance to come to an end. Australia have selected a well-balanced squad and the return of the ball-tampering trio to the Test XI gives it a much stronger look. Crucially, too, England's World Cup success may have emptied the tanks of some key players, including skipper Root. With rain to play a part somewhere, the prediction is two wins apiece (both for Australia at the London venues) and a weather-hit draw somewhere outside the capital.

Leading run-scorer: Steve Smith

It is hard to see how anyone regularly coming up against the new ball will prosper on a regular basis. England have shown a propensity to fold faster than an origami expert (see Ireland, one-off Test, Lord's) and still appear no closer to working out their best combination for the top three. Root is seemingly not keen on a promotion from four in the order, but he will be a target for the Australia attack however early he is out in the middle. Smith will be in the firing line too, considering what happened in Cape Town last year. However, the right-hander averaged a ridiculous 137.4 in the last Ashes and will be determined to succeed after serving a suspension.

Leading wicket-taker: Stuart Broad

Poor Broad. He is second on England's list for Test wickets and just warmed up for the Ashes with seven in the match against Ireland at Lord's, yet some appear ready to cast him out on the international scrap heap. Anderson remains the leader of the attack but he is coming back from a calf injury, and the hot-and-cold Broad has a habit of catching fire against the Australians. He may struggle to match his career-best haul of 8-15 achieved at Trent Bridge in the 2015 series, but the 33-year-old still has a few of those devastating spells in him. It is far tougher to pick a candidate for this award for the tourists outside of Nathan Lyon, considering he may be the only bowler who features in every game while they manage the workload of the pacemen.

 

DEJAN KALINIC

Winner and score: Australia (3-2)

The weather in England will obviously have an impact, but given both teams' batting woes, results still seem likely. Australia last won an Ashes series in England in 2001, but this is a fine opportunity to end that drought. The hosts' World Cup win took plenty out of them, and signs of fatigue are sure to be present during the series, giving Australia's bowlers in particular something to take advantage of. With Warner and Smith having a point to prove in the Test arena after their bans and plenty of depth in the bowling attack, Australia have what they need to get the job done. There will surely be little between the teams so if the tourists' stars can step up in the right moments, the urn is likely to be theirs at the Oval.

Leading run-scorer: David Warner

What better way to drown out the boos than making plenty of runs? Warner is exactly the type to thrive off that kind of attention and he showed during the World Cup his form was quite good, making 647 runs at an average of 71.88, with three centuries. He also made a 58 in the intra-squad tour match, an encounter for the most part best forgotten by Australia's batsmen. If Australia are to have any chance of an upset win on English soil, Warner will need to deliver. The left-hander managed 418 runs at 46.44 during the 2015 Ashes, and that was without going on to convert one of his five half-centuries. And, in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal, what better way to endear yourself once again to an at-best uncertain Australian public?

Leading wicket-taker: Pat Cummins

The 2019 Allan Border Medallist and the number one Test bowler in the world. Is Cummins getting the credit he deserves yet? Finally fit, Cummins has been a standout in recent times for Australia, and he gets a chance to terrorise England once more. It may have been on home soil, but the paceman took a series-high 23 wickets in 2017-18. Cummins – also handy with the bat, which may become incredibly important – was only a late inclusion into the squad in 2015, but he returns four years later as a vital part of Australia's bowling attack and with a chance to show just why he is the world's top-ranked Test bowler.

Regardless of who lifts the urn at The Oval in September, one Australian who is plotting Ashes glory should forever be revered in England.

Just 16 months ago Trevor Bayliss was facing calls for him to be axed as England head coach after New Zealand rolled Joe Root's side for only 58 in an embarrassing first-Test defeat in Auckland.

That came on the back of a chastening 4-0 Ashes thumping in Australia, where Bayliss also fended off questions over his future – much more assertively than the tourists did with the Australia bowling attack.

Bayliss would be entitled to feel he had more than enough credit in the bank at that point, having masterminded a transformation of the ODI side from a Cricket World Cup shambles in 2015 to a major force.

There was no word from his critics when top-ranked England were crowned world champions for the first time this month, an ambitious mission that he was challenged to achieve when he took the reins four years ago.

The unassuming Bayliss started his tenure with a home Ashes win and could sign off with another before stepping aside at the end of the series.

An emphatic home Test series win over India and two series victories against South Africa have also been achieved with the former Sri Lanka coach at the helm, as well as a run to the final of the 2016 World T20.

Paul Farbrace, long-time assistant to the man from New South Wales both with England and Sri Lanka, knows as well as anybody why Bayliss has been so successful over the years.

He told Omnisport: "It's very easy when you are a coach to talk a lot, it's very hard not to say a lot and when you do speak, you speak at the right time and you say the right thing.

"That is where I think he is a genius, in that when he speaks, people listen and when he speaks, he genuinely says something that is very good and you think 'that is a great point'.

"There is a lot of things Trevor gets underestimated about. He appears to sit quietly and not say a lot, but he gets his point across and he knows what is going on all the time in the game, he never misses a ball.

"He is a genuine cricket lover and he's passionate about the game, with exceptional knowledge. He may forget the odd name, but he doesn't forget too much about the game.

"He has been the perfect fit for England over the last four years. The World Cup was the goal four years ago and that's what they have achieved."

Farbrace added: "It's a special summer for English cricket; a home World Cup and Ashes in the same six-month period, it's magnificent for the game in this country at all levels of the game.

"There's never been a better time to introduce people to get involved in the game of cricket. If England can win the Ashes it would be the perfect way to see things home and I see no reason why they can't do that."

Whether or not England regain the Ashes, Bayliss can leave the job with his head held high, although he may prefer to stay poker-faced wearing dark shades under his floppy sun hat to stay out of the limelight.

Mitchell Santner has been named by New Zealand as one of four spinners in a 15-man squad for their two-Test series against Sri Lanka in August.

Santner last played a Test for the Black Caps in December 2017, but the left-arm spinner is part of a squad that also includes Todd Astle, Ajaz Patel and Will Somerville.

New Zealand are readying themselves for spin-friendly conditions in Galle and Colombo in a series that also begins their ICC World Test Championship campaign.

Black Caps head coach Gary Stead said he would consider playing three spinners in the same XI against Sri Lanka.

"Playing three spinners is an option in Sri Lankan conditions and we believe this group provides the best variations and skill mix on offer," he said on Monday.

Paul Farbrace has backed England to end "serial winner" Trevor Bayliss' reign as it started with an Ashes triumph over Australia.

Bayliss will step down as head coach following a five-match series which starts at Edgbaston on Thursday.

The Australian has transformed England from Cricket World Cup failures in 2015 to champions on home soil this month.

Bayliss masterminded a home Ashes win over Australia in his first series in charge four years ago and his former long-time assistant Farbrace believes Joe Root's side can finish the 56-year-old's tenure on a high note.

Farbrace, so influential working alongside Bayliss before taking over as Warwickshire sports director in March, told Omnisport: "I think Trevor has done a brilliant job and I'm so chuffed they won the World Cup.

"I know how much time and effort that has gone in over the years, with staff from the behind the scenes and a lot of people who won't ever be recognised for their part - such as the sports science department, physios and medics, there is an awful lot of work that goes into the planning.

"But ultimately Trevor has steered the ship with Morgs [captain Eoin Morgan] towards winning that World Cup and the pair of them deserve all the accolades they get, because they have done an outstanding job for England over the last four years.

"Trevor is a unique character and has done exceptionally well everywhere he's been. Some coaches have good reputations for the odd thing, but he is a serial winner.

"He's been in two World Cup finals, two T20 finals, won the IPL, the Big Bash. His record is exceptional, so it is so pleasing to see him finish the white-ball stuff in the way he has."

Farbrace added: "It's a special summer for English cricket; a home World Cup and Ashes in the same six-month period, it's magnificent for the game in this country at all levels of the game.

"If England can win the Ashes it would be the perfect way to see things home and I see no reason why they can't do that with a great bowling attack, strong middle-order and hopefully the top order can fire."

Durham have announced the signing of Australia international Peter Handscomb for the remainder of the English domestic season.

The wicketkeeper-batsman - who has represented his country in all three formats - missed out on selection for the Ashes squad but will now remain in England.

Handscomb fills the overseas spot at Durham vacated by compatriot Cameron Bancroft, who was picked in Australia's 17-man party for the five-Test series.

"We are delighted to welcome Peter to Durham for the rest of the season," Marcus North, director of cricket at Durham, said.

"Peter is a well-known player across all formats of the game, so it is a great to be welcoming him to Chester-le-Street.

"He has proven he can score runs having excelled for Victoria in their domestic competition, so we are pleased to have him joining us at Durham."

Peter Siddle has faith in Australia's well-balanced squad to cope with whatever is thrown at them during the Ashes series against England.

Tim Paine's side are aiming to become the first touring party from Down Under to triumph on English soil since 2001, though Australia are the current holders of the urn following their emphatic 4-0 triumph in 2017-18.

Siddle was also involved in the past three unsuccessful tours to England, though he believes the current crop are better placed for success in unfamiliar conditions.

"We are a lot more aware of the team set-up and the dynamics we need to win a series in England," the seamer said.

"A couple of the other series I've played in, we haven't been quite suited to the conditions and have gone about it the wrong way.

"But I think, especially with the squad that’s been picked and the players that are in and around the group, we've got a good skill set, so whatever is dished up to us wicket-wise, we will be able to cope and handle what they throw at us."

Siddle's faith stems from the number of Australian players in the 17-man squad who have experienced playing in England.

The 34-year-old acknowledges his time playing county cricket for Essex, where he has taken 34 wickets in eight first-class outings at an average of just 20.08 this year, has helped him to become a better bowler.

"I'm in a good frame of mind – the confidence that I have after the last two seasons over here playing for Essex has put me in a good position to know that I’m comfortable with my game, especially in England," Siddle said.

"I know that if I get the opportunity to play in this series, I'm more ready than ever. I'm definitely bowling a lot better than I have done in these conditions, and that's the best thing that I bring to this team now.

"I've got a pretty good record at Test cricket in Ashes games in England. But my experience over the last couple of years ...I've learned a lot. A lot of new skills and ways to go about it and I can play a big part in this series."

The first Ashes Test begins on Thursday at Edgbaston.

England's Test win over Ireland at Lord's was not a fair contest between bat and ball due to a substandard Lord's playing surface, according to home captain Joe Root.

A demolition job by new-ball pair Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad saw Ireland bundled out for 38 on Friday, a day that began with the visitors dreaming of a historic maiden triumph in the longest format after being set 182 for victory.

England began in similar batting turmoil as they were dismissed for 85 in the first session of the match, with Ireland's seam attack led by the excellent Tim Murtagh wreaking havoc on a green pitch.

The five-match Ashes series against Australia begins at Edgbaston next week before the second Test comes to Lord's and Root seemingly challenged head groundsman Karl McDermott to up his game before that keenly anticipated clash.

"I don't like saying this, but the wicket was substandard for a Test match," Root told a post-match news conference.

"I thought it wasn't even close to a fair contest between bat and ball throughout the whole game.

"First innings, last innings, when you are getting scores like that, that tells a story in itself."

Asked whether he was preparing for similar pitches during an Ashes series expected to be dominated by two high-class seam attacks, Root replied: "I hope not.

"You have to find ways of coping with that. It was extreme in this game. From a batting point of view, it's hard to take too much out of it."

Although England rested World Cup heroes such as Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler for the Ireland match, Root conceded players like himself who stayed on for the quick change in formats were feeling "knackered".

"It's been 10 weeks of hard cricket, of high emotion, of ups and downs. It does take a lot out of you," he added.

"You have to suck it up and get on with it. It's not been perfect, but we've dealt with it pretty well.

"We've never been in a position where we've won a World Cup, so for half the side to be part of that and then very quickly adjust to Test cricket is unusual.

"You've never been in that position before, so it's hard to know how you're going to cope."

England seamers Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad tore through Ireland at Lord's on Friday to end a remarkable Test match where seam bowlers dominated.

Needing 182 for a historic maiden victory in cricket's longest format, Ireland were blown away as they subsided to 38 all out.

It meant England escaped with a remarkable win despite also failing to reach three figures in their first innings and needing nightwatchman Jack Leach to produce their most substantial batting contribution.

Whether it made for useful Ashes preparation is up for debate, but a Test played out in fast forward unquestionably made for compelling viewing.

 

A win without foundation

Before lunch was served on the first day, England's hopes of victory were in tatters. Playing on his home ground, Middlesex veteran Tim Murtagh earned himself a place on the fabled honours board with an imperious 5-13.

England's collapse to 85 all out was their lowest at home since Glenn McGrath's stunning 8-38 dismissed them for 77 at Lord's in 1997.

They escaped with a draw on that occasion and this win marks only the 13th time in Test history – and fifth since 1935 – that a team has managed to claim victory despite being dismissed for below 100 in their first innings.

Jack of all trades

Selected for his dependable left-arm spin, Jack Leach walked away with the man-of-the-match award after a diligently compiled 92 in the second innings gave some of his much-vaunted England colleagues a lesson in application at the crease.

Indeed, Leach's total was more than the 87 skipper Joe Root, Rory Burns, Joe Denly, Moeen Ali and the pair-bagging Jonny Bairstow could manage between them in the match. It was also only the second fifty in 2019 for an England Test opener.

England's out-of-sorts batsmen might be encouraged by Leach demonstrating how form can turn around at an unexpected moment. The highest score of his first-class career came after 19 innings without reaching double digits.

Wondrous Woakes loving Lord's 

Some observers believe two Tests every year at Lord's gives English cricket's HQ an unfair slice of the pie but, if Chris Woakes had his way, England would probably never play anywhere else.

The Warwickshire all-rounder put a lacklustre first-innings outing behind him to demolish Ireland with a masterful display of seam and swing. Woakes' eventual figures of 6-17 mean he has 24 Lord's wickets at an average of 9.75 – the third best of any seamer at a single venue.

For context, the 30-year-old's overall Test analysis is 78 wickets at 31.06. All three of his five-wicket hauls - along with one tally of 10 in a match - have come at Lord's, where he scored his maiden and so-far only Test century against India last August.

Irish dreams shattered

When captain Will Porterfield and James McCollum emerged to start the Ireland chase, victory and history appeared within reach.

But 15.4 brutal overs later it was all over. McCollum was the only visiting batsman to reach double figures second time around as Ireland posted the seventh-worst score in Test history and the lowest ever at Lord's.

Joe Root felt England gave a timely demonstration of their calm under pressure after blowing Ireland away at Lord's on Friday.

Set 182 for a historic maiden Test victory, the visitors crumbled to 38 all out – Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad sharing all 10 wickets in a masterful demonstration of seam and swing in helpful conditions.

It meant England's blushes were spared after a dismal 85 all out on the first morning left them staring at a humiliating defeat.

"I know that that was a lot of runs on this surface," Root said at the post-match presentation, before alluding to last year's dramatic win over India in similar circumstance at Edgbaston – the venue for next week's first Ashes Test against Australia.

"We've been in this position before, we found ourselves in a similar position at Edgbaston last year so we knew that we'd been able to manage a similar sort of scenario.

"I think it was important that we stayed calm, in control of what we wanted to do and asked the right questions - and that's exactly what we did."

Woakes' Test-best figures of 6-17 extended his phenomenal record at Lord's, while Broad's 4-19 wrought further torment upon the overmatched Ireland batting order.

"Both me and Woakesy would roll these conditions up today and take them everywhere with us," Broad told BBC Sport. "You fancy defending anything in these conditions.

"The biggest part of this match was us picking up 10 wickets on day one because if Ireland had got a huge lead that would have been it.

"A lot has happened in two and a half days!"

Ireland captain Will Porterfield called on his Test rookies to take lessons from an ultimately bruising experience that promised so much.

"It all happened pretty quickly - they exploited the overcast conditions," he said.

"All the dismissals were lbw, bowled or caught by slip or keeper - the exact dismissals a bowling side is looking for on that pitch in these conditions.

"It's a big learning curve for the lads."

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