When the Ashes series concluded last week, England’s victory in the final Test match meant that the series was drawn two all. But do we realise how rare a result this is in Ashes history?
Justin Langer has backed David Warner and Steve Smith to have no qualms returning to red-ball cricket as the attention turns to their first Tests in 16 months.
Warner and Smith showed no serious after effects of the ball-tampering scandal during the World Cup, with the former hitting three centuries and averaging 71.88.
But their warm-up for that tournament at least came with a year of Twenty20 cricket, allowing them to work on their short-form games before adapting to 50 overs.
In contrast, the pair’s only red-ball cricket since Cape Town last March was a brief stint in Sydney Grade Cricket over the summer, both playing six two-day games.
But Langer said he had no concerns over how the pair would adapt back to the five-day game in the Ashes.
“Hopefully they get up to speed like they did with the white ball,” he said.
“They’re both absolutely professionals, they’re very talented, they’re great players. They’ll get back into that.
“Regardless of the colour of the ball, they’ll both be fine.”
The pair’s form in the Ashes will be crucial.
In the four-and-a-half years before their suspensions, they accounted for 31 of Australia’s 57 centuries.
Australian batsmen hit just five hundreds in their nine-Test absence, with four of them coming against a second-string Sri Lankan attack on a good batting pitch in Canberra.
Meanwhile, Langer said he was still unsure who would open with Warner at the top of the order.
That race between Joe Burns and Marcus Harris will continue on Sunday, when Australia A begin a four-day match against the England Lions in Canterbury.
Several contenders for the No.6 spot will also feature, before Langer picks his best 22 players for the unofficial four-day trial on July 23 in Southampton.
“There’s going to be some real competition,” Langer said.
“That’s why we want to play the two Australian teams. We’ve known for so long in Australian cricket there has been such cutthroat competition and that has increased our depth.
“So to be able to play a game like that, and we won’t select the Ashes until a day after that game. There is going to be real competition.
“There is going to be a good opportunity for guys opening and batting in the top six.”
Meanwhile, Langer also remains confident Usman Khawaja will beat his hamstring injury to play in series opener at Edgbaston on August 1.