The heat is on as arch-rivals England and Australia lock horns in the ongoing Ashes 2019 which kicked off at Edgbaston in Birmingham on Thursday. Such is the intensity of this series that the players of both sides leave no stone unturned while engaging in aggressive competition. In short, the Ashes series cannot be completed without its fair share of drama and controversies. This time, it all started even before both teams took to the field. Let's take a look at what had actually transpired before even a ball was bowled.
Ahead of the first Test match, English skipper Joe Root was disappointed after learning that two sets of players will indulge in a handshake which will mark the beginning of the series as per reports.
According to a report in a foreign newspaper, both Root and coach Trevor Bayliss were not made aware of the new handshake policy and were not at all happy with the new move. It is also reported that the duo has expressed their displeasure about this to match referee Ranjan Madugalle.
Let us now go back and know how this started.
This was implemented by Tim Paine after he was appointed as the Test captain by the Australian Cricket Board (ACB). Paine came up with the idea of pre-match handshakes between the teams at the beginning of the Test series. This was done in order to rebuild their reputation after the infamous ball-tampering incident in South Africa last year which included Steve Smith, David Warner, and Cameron Bancroft.
Paine's move was also welcomed by England's limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan when both teams had played a limited-overs series last year. Meanwhile, Root is not someone who is convinced with this idea and reports have stated that he reckons this as a PR strategy.
England and Australia will be competing in a series of five matches for the 'Urn'. The Aussies will be looking to retain it back after having won the series last time in 2017/18 Down Under. Nonetheless, they will have to rewrite history as it has been 18 years since they have won an Ashes series on English soil. The last time it happened was way back in 2001.
At the same time, England will be high on confidence after having won their maiden World Cup recently. They had ended Australia's era as the world champions exactly three weeks ago at the very same venue in the semi-final. The English side will now look to take the urn back from the Aussies at home.