From the pantomime villains to an 'old' new ball: All you need to know about the 71st Ashes

England cricket fans delighted in a first World Cup win this summer but will there be an Ashes win to rejoice in as well?

The Test team led by Joe Root will battle with Australia on home soil as the sport's oldest rivalry resumes for the 71st time.

From a feisty reunion with the touring Aussies' banned trio to an 'old' new ball and all the match details, here's everything you need to know about this year's series:

The tearful pantomime villains are back

The 'sandpaper three' - (L-R) David Warner, Cameron Bancroft and Steve Smith - will return against England. Credit: AP

Australia has struggled since their comprehensive 4-0 victory in the last Ashes series, not least because of last year's ball-tampering scandal which led to lengthy bans for then-captain Steve Smith, vice captain David Warner and opening batsman Cameron Bancroft.

This Test-series will be the first time all three Australians will play together since they were banned for the plot carried out against South Africa in March 2018.

At the time, Bancroft was caught by cameras using sandpaper to rough up one side of the ball, which prompted the "sandpapergate scandal".

Smith, who has lost the captaincy to Tim Paine, broke down in tears a year ago apologising profusely for his actions, while Warner soon also was crying in front of the cameras.

So expect to hear a lot of boos in the crowd across all five Tests.

Will England stoke up the backlash?

Ben Stokes was one of England's stars at the ICC Cricket World Cup. Credit: PA

Ben Stokes, who has been reappointed as England's vice-captain, believes the scandal could add to the already-fraught rivalry between the two nations.

But he insists the players on the field will leave the barracking to those watching.

"I don't think we're going to go near that [ball-tampering scandal]. I think the crowd will do that for us," Stokes told ITV News Sports Editor Steve Scott.

Could other conflict points occur between the players?

"Ashes series, there's always something that happens," Stokes added.

"There will be some competitive juices flowing and it brings the best out of players, and I'm really looking forward to being involved in it."

How many of England's World Cup players will be playing in the Ashes?

Stokes isn't the only hero from the One-Day World Cup win who will be back in action for England in the Ashes.

Seven other players made the Test squad for the five five-day Ashes clashes this summer.

Fast bowler Jofra Archer is in the Test squad but was not picked for the opening match. Credit: PA
  • Moeen Ali - All rounder

  • Jofra Archer - fast bowler

  • Jonny Bairstow - Wicket-keeper-batsman

  • Jos Buttler - Wicket keeper

  • Joe Root - Captain

  • Jason Roy - Batsman

  • Chris Woakes - Bowler

You'll be able to name all the players

England players sported names and numbers during the recent World Cup. Credit: PA

If your knowledge of cricketers is a little limited, you'll be helped by the introduction of player surnames and numbers on the Test shirts.

The change happened in the shorter forms of the sport back in the 1990s but it is the first time the teams have sported them in the Ashes.

Reaction to the move was divided.

Why is it called 'The Ashes'?

The term 'Ashes' was first used after England lost to Australia on home soil at The Oval in 1882.

A day later, the Sporting Times, a newspaper carried a mock obituary of English cricket which concluded that: "The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia."

England captain Joe Root (left) and Australia captain Tim Paine pose with the Ashes urn. Credit: PA

Within a few series, a miniature urn was awarded to the winning team. That now sits in the MCC Museum at the English home of cricket, Lord's.

The trophy which will either be held aloft by England skipper Root or Australian captain Paine at the end of this series will be a replica of that urn.

When and where are the Ashes matches taking place?

  • August 1-5: 1st Test, Edgbaston (Birmingham)

  • August 14-18: 2nd Test, Lord's (London)

  • August 22-26: 3rd Test, Headingley (Leeds)

  • September 4-8: 4th Test, Old Trafford (Manchester)

  • September 12-16: 5th Test, Oval (London)

The fifth Test will be played at the Oval in London. Credit: PA

Where can I watch the Ashes?

Sky Sports has exclusive live coverage rights to broadcast all England cricket matches played in the country and will screen every Test match.

There's little prospect of the broadcaster agreeing to share the footage with terrestrial broadcasters, as it did with Channel 4 for the recent World Cup final.

But Channel 5 will be showing the highlights at the end of each day.

England's one-day success this summer may be hard to beat, but it has fuelled a desire to complete an unprecedented double of the World Cup and Ashes - both on home soil - and they'll look to gain an advantage in every area: including the equipment.

An old but new ball?

Dukes have handmade every single ball for the Ashes Test-series. Credit: Dukes Cricket

England have asked manufacturer Dukes to revert back to an old model ball for this summer's Ashes series.

ITV News spoke to the managing director at Dukes, who said, the company had "finetuned" the ball for the Ashes, with slightly different threading and measurements.

Dilip Jajodia said it means there could be a bit of unpredictability, with every ball a little different.

While the batsmen "need to get their act together" for this Test-series, he said "in theory it's a bit more bowler friendly".

Those small margins could help decide how The Ashes are won.