England’s disastrous Cricket World Cup defence

Following a wonderful summer of cricket that included one of the best Ashes series in recent memory and another thrilling campaign in The Hundred, fans were eagerly anticipating the World Cup in India.

As reigning champions, England went into the tournament with reasonable expectations, particularly after an emphatic ODI series win over New Zealand.

But it’s been nothing short of a disaster. England have lost five of their six matches so far and sit rooted to the bottom of the table. With three matches to go, Jos Buttler and co. have a job on their hands to avoid complete embarrassment.

England drop the ball

Despite coming out on top in their warm-up ODI series against New Zealand, England failed to continue their form in India. Matthew Mott’s side met the Kiwis in the opening game of the tournament in a repeat of the 2019 World Cup final.

But they couldn’t repeat history and were humiliated, losing by nine wickets. Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra barely broke a sweat as they combined for an unbeaten 283 to chase down England with 13.4 overs left.

England bounced back in their second game, scoring an impressive 364/9 to beat Bangladesh by 137 runs. The top order showed their class, as Dawid Malan hit a stunning 140 while Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root both notched half centuries.

But things went downhill after that and England have suffered four successive defeats. They narrowly lost to Afghanistan before a pitiful display against South Africa saw them bowled out for 170 in just 22 overs.

Not even the return of 2019 World Cup hero Ben Stokes could inspire them, with the all-rounder notching just five in his first game back from injury.

Whether they’ve now given up or are simply in a horrendous slump of form remains to be seen, but they’ve since added to their woes with defeats to Sri Lanka and India, being bowled out for 156 and 129 respectively.

England will finish their World Cup campaign with matches against Australia, the Netherlands and Pakistan and they’ll be targeting three wins, for pride if nothing else. The Aussies started the tournament poorly and looked to be the whipping boys but they’ve turned things around, allowing England to claim that title.

India have won all six of their games on home soil so far and look in good shape to win their third World Cup title. Meanwhile, South Africa currently top the table, although they’ve played a game more than the hosts.

Where has it gone wrong for England?

It’s more complicated than just saying ‘England haven’t been good enough’, but they’ve not helped themselves. England haven’t just lost the majority of their World Cup matches – they’ve been demolished.

Not only have they failed to reach 200 runs in three of their games, they’ve only recorded one century and four half centuries in six games. These figures don’t scream ‘defending World Cup champions’ and they demonstrate a lack of players willing to take a game by the scruff of the neck, much like Stokes did four years ago.

This may boil down to poor preparation. Joe Root has already demanded England put more focus on 50-over cricket if they want to enjoy future success. They played just 16 ODIs in the year leading up to the World Cup and even in those matches, a large proportion of the final squad weren’t involved.

Compare that to unbeaten India, who played almost double the amount of matches, with nine of those taking place in September of this year to ensure momentum going into the World Cup.

Elsewhere, the make-up of England’s squad needs refreshing. Eight of the current squad were also involved in 2019 and are all the wrong side of 30, as are Dawid Malan and David Willey. That’s 10 players that likely won’t be in contention for the 2027 squad, meaning a huge overhaul is on the horizon.

Only four players in the current squad are under the age of 30, which doesn’t give much hope to up and coming youngsters. Harry Brook forced his way into the side following a strong run of form in The Hundred and perhaps more players need to be rewarded for their performances, rather than being an automatic pick due to familiarity.

Remarkably, England aren’t mathematically out of the World Cup, meaning a bizarre set of circumstances would see them progress to the semi-finals. Realistically, it’s only a matter of time before they’re eliminated.

With three games left, England have the chance to forge where they see their future in white-ball cricket. And with the T20 World Cup getting underway in just seven months, it may be wise for them to start their preparation early in order to avoid another disaster.

Despite the disappointment of the World Cup, there’s still plenty of cricket to look forward to in 2024, including England’s Test series against the West Indies and Sri Lanka, The Hundred, the T20 Blast. Join us for another year of thrilling action from the best seats in the house with Engage’s exclusive hospitality packages.

Looking back on a splendid summer of cricket

The Cricket World Cup gets underway this week and following a sensational few months of cricket, we’ve taken a look back at the highs (and lows!) of a memorable summer of sport.

An Ashes series to remember

A summer of British cricket wouldn’t have been the same without the Ashes and this year’s series certainly delivered. England were looking to win the famous urn for the first time since 2015 and were entering a new era, with new captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum.

With timeless moments including England’s early declaration at Edgbaston, Jonny Bairstow’s controversial dismissal at Lord’s and Stuart Broad’s fairytale farewell, it will be a series that lives long in the memory.

It didn’t quite start the way we had hoped, with Australia racing into a 2-0 lead following the first two Tests. Stokes’ decision to declare at 393 on the first day of the series was a bold risk that ultimately didn’t pay off – but it was a glimpse at our new aggressive philosophy.

The following Test saw Alex Carey stump Bairstow, who had left his crease under the impression that the ball was dead. The incident sparked controversy, leading to suggestions that it wasn’t in the spirit of the game.

Nevertheless, it left a sour taste in England’s mouths and motivated them more than ever. The hosts went into the third Test looking to become the first team to win an Ashes series from 2-0 since Australia in 1937.

A routine win at Headingley halved the deficit and England looked like they were on their way to levelling the series at Old Trafford. A phenomenal 189 from Zak Crawley put them in the ascendancy but in typical British fashion, the rain ruined the party. The match was brought to a close, meaning Australia retained the Ashes by default.

England were still desperate to level the series at The Oval in the final Test and thankfully, the scriptwriters ensured it was a fairytale finish. Broad, who had announced his retirement prior to the match, smashed Mitchell Starc for six in his final ever shot in Test cricket.

And the bowling legend went out in style, dismissing Carey with his final ever delivery to win England the match. While the result of the Ashes may have been ultimately disappointing, England played their part in delivering one of the best summers of Test cricket in recent memory.

Traditional cricket fans may still be getting their heads around ‘Bazball’ but the future under Stokes and McCullum is very bright.

Guests enjoy hospitality at the Kia Oval during England's ODI win over New Zealand in September 2023.

Cricket Hospitality

Oval Invincibles win The Hundred

There was barely time for us all to catch our breath following the Ashes as we jumped straight into the third season of The Hundred. The 100-ball franchise format raised eyebrows when it was first introduced but this year’s edition saw record viewing figures in both the men’s and women’s competitions.

Oval Invincibles claimed their first men’s title, winning six times and losing just once as they finished top of the group stage. The franchise based at The Oval saw off Manchester Originals in the final at Lord’s, but they didn’t find it easy.

Led by captain Sam Billings, they got off to a tricky start and found themselves at 34-5. But Sam Curran, the IPL’s most expensive player in history, teamed up with Jimmy Neesham to claw back the runs and bring the title to south London.

Despite being on the losing side, Jos Buttler smashed the record for most runs in a season as he finished with 391. And after a promising Ashes showing, Harry Brooks’ stunning 105 not out from 42 balls for Northern Superchargers against Welsh Fire put him in contention for England’s World Cup squad.

Unlike the men, the Oval Invincibles women’s side weren’t able to claim their third consecutive title. They were among the favourites prior to the competition but four defeats in the group stage saw them finish fifth.

Southern Brave topped the table thanks in large part to Danni Wyatt, who finished the season as the highest runs scorer. The Hampshire-based side won seven of their eight group stage matches and sailed into the final.

They met Northern Superchargers at Lord’s, who advanced after the eliminator match was called off due to rain. In a tight final showdown, Southern Brave eventually won by 34 runs to claim their first championship, having lost in the previous two finals.

Fans spectate at Lord's Cricket Ground under the media centre

England prepare for World Cup with New Zealand series

In preparation for the World Cup, England went toe-to-toe with New Zealand in a white ball series, facing off in four T20 matches and four one-day internationals.

The T20 series started positively as England went 2-0 up but a limp performance in the third match at Edgbaston saw the visitors halve the deficit. And in the final match, New Zealand destroyed England with ease.

Despite Bairstow’s best efforts, scoring 73 runs from 41 balls, New Zealand claimed a six-wicket victory to tie the series at 2-2.

Things seemed to go from bad to worse as England surrendered the opening ODI, losing by eight wickets as Daryl Mitchell and Devon Conway both scored centuries. But England knocked themselves into form and turned their fortunes around, winning the next three matches to comfortably claim the series.

Having come out of ODI retirement ahead of the World Cup, it was Stokes that stole the show in the third contest at The Oval. he scored 182 as England won by 181 runs, setting a new record for the most runs in a one-day match.

And in the final game of the series, Dawid Malan was in fine form, scoring 127 as England won by 100 runs.

Can England retain their World Cup crown?

The Cricket World Cup is just a few days away and England are looking to continue their momentum in their opening match against New Zealand.

The defending champions defeated the Kiwis in a dramatic super over back in 2019 and Stokes will be looking to recreate the magic of that tournament as he steps up to the crease in India. It may well be the all-rounder’s final one-day involvement for England – although we’ve heard that before!

England will take part in nine group stage matches, with the top four teams progressing through to the semi-finals. We’ve announced a strong squad, with Brook coming in to replace Jason Roy despite initially missing out.

As well as Stokes, Buttler will have the likes of Bairstow, Malan and Joe Root to rely on for runs, alongside the bowling strength of Curran, Mark Wood, Chris Woakes and Gus Atkinson.

Jonnie Irwin cherishes ‘highlight of the summer’ with Engage

We were delighted to see British TV presenter Jonnie Irwin enjoying his day out within our hospitality facility at the Kia Oval this week whilst he continues to bravely battle terminal cancer.

The beloved presenter rose to fame when he was selected to host Channel 4s ‘A Place in the Sun’ and has been a staple on our TV sets ever since when working with the BBC to present episodes of ‘Escape to the Country’ and ‘To Buy or Not To Buy.’

However, for the last few years Irwin has been heroically battling terminal cancer in his lungs, admitting on Instagram recently that he been feeling pretty unwell this summer.

Determined to make the most of his experiences, Irwin looked in good health whilst thoroughly enjoying his day out at the cricket alongside friend and former domestic cricketer Ryan Sidebottom at the Kia Oval.

Joining us in within our Live hospitality, Irwin watched on in the warm September sunshine as Ben Stokes put on a batting masterclass to hit a record ODI score.

Heading into the fixture the ODI series was evenly poised at 1-1, and the day looked like it was going to be a long one for England fans after Jonny Bairstow was removed after the first ball.

The hosts were able to recover though through an impressive partnership between Dawid Malan and Ben Stokes, with the latter going on to make England’s highest ODI score after a mesmerising knock of 182 runs. The skipper Jos Buttler added a further 38 to take his side into a commanding position which eventually saw them win by a mammoth 181 runs on a beautiful day in London.

Commenting on Instagram after the match, the presenter wrote: “Had the best day in awesome company thanks to @ryansidebottom_official and @engagegroup_uk who made the whole experience a massive highlight of my summer.”

Throughout the day we were also joined by other famous faces within our hospitality facility, including the ICC’s number one World Test Batsman, Kane Williamson, who happily mingled and took pictures with guests whilst he continues to recover from a knee injury.

At Engage we are thrilled that Jonnie Irwin cherished his experience with us at the cricket and, like everyone connected with him, are inspired by the way continues to approach his own personal battle.

England look to build momentum in ODI series

The Ashes may be a distant memory but the spirit of cricket lives on and we’re in the midst of a fascinating few months of white-ball action. England endured a mixed T20 series against New Zealand and the pair are set to lock horns again this week.

With the ODI World Cup just around the corner, there’s still plenty that England can do to improve, while there may well be one or two spots in the squad to be filled.

England face India in a One Day International at Lord's Cricket Ground

Cricket Hospitality

England throw T20 series away with limp performances

As England went home for the evening last Friday, they’d have been forgiven for thinking they had their T20 series against New Zealand wrapped up. Two convincing wins at the Riverside Ground and Old Trafford had them 2-0 up and playing with confidence.

But things are never that easy with England. New Zealand came out firing in the third clash at Edgbaston and thanks to half centuries from Finn Allen and Glenn Phillips, they were too much for the hosts, despite captain Jos Buttler’s valiant efforts.

And the final match on Tuesday went to the visitors as well, with New Zealand levelling the series with an imperious six-wicket thrashing. Jonny Bairstow tried his best as he led the charge, smashing home an impressive 73 from 41 balls.

But following his dismissal, his team-mates failed to continue that momentum and once New Zealand’s spinners took charge, the wickets quickly fell. Despite a disappointing end to the series, England looked strong at points and they’ll be looking to take the positives as they gear up for a four-game ODI series against the same opponents.

And while their immediate attention will be on their next clash with the Kiwis and the imminent ODI World Cup, England will have one eye on the T20 World Cup. They’re the current holders and based on the evidence of the last week, they’ll need to improve massively if they want to defend their title in the United States and West Indies next summer.

Harry Brook keeps World Cup dream alive

It’s been a season of ups and downs in all cricket formats for Yorkshire batsman Brook. The 24-year-old impressed during England’s summer Ashes series against Australia before showing his class for the Northern Superchargers in The Hundred.

But Ben Stokes’ retirement U-turn saw Brook miss out on England’s provisional squad for the ODI World Cup. Not one to let setbacks derail his performances, Brook has continued to graft in recent weeks – and his perseverance may have paid off.

Following a 41-ball century in The Hundred, Brook recorded scores of 43 and 67 in the opening two T20 clashes with New Zealand. And he’s been given the chance to impress further after being added to the squad for the ODI series, which gets underway tomorrow.

England coach Matthew Mott says the door is still open for him to make the squad, with changes permitted up until 28th September. It’s now up to Brook to prove his worth and he’ll undoubtedly be relishing the opportunity, starting in Cardiff on Friday.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JULY 09: England bowler Sam Curran in bowling action during the second Vitality IT20 match between England and India at Edgbaston on July 09, 2022 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images) 1407727112 cricket

Can New Zealand avenge World Cup final heartbreak?

Following the T20 series, there’s no time to rest as England and New Zealand get straight back into the action. It’s the first time the Kiwis will take part in a 50-over on British soil since they lost in the World Cup final at Lord’s back in 2019 following a dramatic super over.

That day will live long in the memory, with the scores tied after 50 overs at 241 runs each, the game went to a one over showdown. Stokes and Buttler returned to the crease for England, managing 15 runs for England from 6 balls.

Spectacularly New Zealand also managed 15 runs from their super over, meaning the decider was the amount of boundaries scored in bth teams innings, with England clinching the World Cup after having 26 boundaries to the Kiwi’s 17.

Ben Stokes, the man of the match that day, has reversed his ODI retirement to make a comeback for the upcoming games so it is expected he will also be in the World Cup squad, trying to recreate his heroics again.

Both sides will be looking to knock themselves into form ahead of the next World Cup, which gets underway in India on 5th October.

As well as Brook, Brydon Carse is also looking to stake a claim for the squad having initially been left out. The 28-year-old impressed in the T20 series, taking four wickets in the opening two matches.

England vs New Zealand ODI series:

●      Friday 8th September – Sophia Gardens, Cardiff

●      Sunday 10th September – The Ageas Bowl, Southampton

●      Wednesday 13th September – Kia Oval, London

●      Friday 15th September – Lord’s London

Following the four-day series against New Zealand, England will take on Ireland over three matches before heading out to India with ambitions of retaining their World Cup crown.

Oval Invincibles keep up their winning streak at The Hundred

Having won the women’s competition in each of the first two editions, the Oval Invincibles were able to maintain their winning run at The Hundred with a dominant performance to secure their first men’s title. Meanwhile, the women’s competition continued to bring in record-breaking crowds as the Southern Brave blew away the competition to lift the trophy.

Glory for the Oval Invincibles and Southern Brave

In an edition of The Hundred that saw more close finishes and showcased the depth of talent the UK has to offer, it was the Oval Invincibles who made the short trip across the Thames to Lord’s to secure their first men’s title – and third in total for the franchise having won both the first two titles in the women’s competition.

Helped by a strong core of players who share a dressing room during the county cricket season with Surrey, the franchise based in South London were head and shoulders above the rest of competition in the league stage but found themselves in trouble at 34-5 in the final against the Manchester Originals. However, a strong partnership between Tom Curran and Jimmy Neesham led the fight back for the Invincibles who won the title with a 14-run victory.

The Southern Brave also outclassed the rest of their competition on the way to winning the women’s competition. Having already lost two finals the Brave looked to be on a mission to go one better right from the outset of the tournament, recording 7 wins out of their 8 matches in the group stage.

Danni Wyatt led the way ruthlessly with the bat in the final before Lauren Bell and Kalea Moore both took three wickets to ensure they made no mistake this time on the way to lifting the trophy at the Northen Supercharger’s expense.

With ticket sales, TV audiences and online views all up this year and England’s star players all backing the benefits of the franchise competition, the 2023 edition has enjoyed greater success on and off the pitch in what was arguably the most enjoyable campaign of The Hundred to date.

An edition of The Hundred full of standout performances

As a whole the tournament was able to showcase the depth of elite talent that England have at their disposal heading into a hectic 12 months of cricket that includes a Cricket World Cup, a T20 World Cup and multiple Test Series’.

Harry Brook – who had been left out of England’s World Cup squad just days before – played arguably the standout innings of this year’s tournament. A destructive 105 not out off just 42 balls was an extraordinary summary of the talent the 24-year-old possess and offered fans in attendance another glimpse into the exciting future of English cricket.

The incredible display, however, was not enough to keep his team the Northern Superchargers from finishing bottom, just behind the London Spirit who slumped to seventh after a poor start and a couple of games washed out by rain.

England’s white-ball captain Jos Buttler also continued to lead by example as he ended the competition as the leading run scorer with the Manchester Originals. With a total of 391 runs he set a new record for most runs in a season and will be hoping to keep that form going into the World Cup this October.

In the bowling department, his teammate Calvin Harrison stole the show with the best bowling figures recorded in the men’s Hundred when he took 5-11 to help the Originals finish second.

Meanwhile the Southern Brave had an unforgettable season in the bowling departments. All-rounder Georgia Adams finished comfortably above any other bowler in the women’s competition, taking 16 wickets on the way to winning the title. In the men’s competition Tymal Mill also impressed with his pace bowling and effective variations. His breathtaking hat trick for the Brave against the Welsh Fire was the highlight of an exceptional season in which he ended on top of the men’s wicket taking column too.

What’s up next on the calendar?

Following the conclusion of The Hundred, England now turn their attention to preparing for October’s ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup with important T20 and ODI series’ against New Zealand.

England announced their provisional team for the 2023 World Cup with the notable inclusion of Ben Stokes who has come back out of one-day retirement to play at the World Cup in India this Autumn.

Spectators view from the stands at Lord's Cricket Ground
Lord’s Cricket Ground will host the final ODI between England and New Zealand on Friday 15 September

The news did stir some debate amongst fans due to the omission of Harry Brook to make way for England’s star man, meaning all eyes will be on the performances of Stokes and the rest of the English batting line-up.

Elsewhere in the squad Joe Root helped his cause for being included in the ODI team with some impressive performances in The Hundred – including an impressive unbeaten 72 for the Trent Rockets at Lord’s against London Spirit. Looking to make his mark within England’s white ball setup, the legendary Yorkshire batsman also enjoyed a spell with the Rajasthan Royals at the IPL in the spring and looks to be in good touch just at the right time.

Sam Curran, Jason Roy and England’s surprise pick Gus Atkinson all come out of The Hundred full of confidence too having been a part of the victorious Oval Invincibles side. Along with the backbone of the England squad, including Jonny Bairstow, Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali, they will be looking to entertain fans once again across country at venues such as Emirates Old Trafford, Lord’s and The Kia Oval against New Zealand. 

England v New Zealand T20 Series

England v New Zealand ODI Series

‘Bazball’ may not have won the Ashes but the future is bright

It may have been a typical British summer in terms of the weather but when it comes to cricket, it’s been uncharacteristically fun. Despite England not managing to win the Ashes, the all-out attacking style of ‘Bazball’ has made Test cricket enjoyable again and delivered one of the greatest series in recent history.

A thrilling final day in the fifth Test at The Oval saw a Stuart Broad inspired England win to level the series at 2-2. Australia ultimately retained the famous urn but it was important for Brendan McCullum that his side didn’t go down without a fight – and it could have been so different had the fourth Test not been ruined by the rain.

While it may not be traditional, there’s rarely a dull moment with ‘Bazball’. And as Ben Stokes and co. look forward to some time off following a full throttle few weeks, it’ll be fascinating to see where England’s Test side go from here.

Stuart Broad bowling at Old Trafford during the fourth Ashes Test Match 2023

Cricket Hospitality

‘Bazball’ has made Test cricket great again

Whether you love or hate ‘Bazball’, one thing is certain – English Test cricket is alive and kicking. Prior to McCullum taking charge, England had won just once in 17 matches. Something needed to change and it’s been non-stop fun since last May.

England’s new style is exciting, fresh and it’s seen interest in Test cricket reach the highest it’s been in years. It’s not perfect and it may not have delivered an Ashes win but like anything new, it’s a learning process.

‘Bazball’ certainly comes with risk but that’s what makes it exciting. The decision to declare early in the first Test at Edgbaston received criticism and in hindsight, it may have been a mistake. But it showed positive thinking and had it come off, McCullum and Stokes would have been labelled geniuses.

Playing it safe clearly hadn’t been working so it’s refreshing to see them try something new. And ultimately, it’s not early declarations or batting order selection that stopped England winning the Ashes. It’s individual errors, poor shot selection and dropped catches (not to mention the rain!), which can be ironed out and could so easily have gone the other way.

‘Bazball’ is not just a fun experiment – it’s only just getting started. There’s no reason to change it now and England now have six months to learn from their mistakes and conjure up a plan to take it to the next level.

Old Trafford Cricket Ground during the fourth Ashes Test Match 2023

Changing of the guard

‘Bazball’ isn’t the only dramatic change affecting England’s Test cricket side. Legendary bowler Broad has announced his retirement from the game – and he might not be the only one.

The 37-year-old has enjoyed almost 17 years representing England in all disciplines of cricket and there likely wasn’t a dry eye in the house as he walked out to bat one last time with old pal Jimmy Anderson on day four at The Oval.

Not one for going out quietly, Broad finished in style as he smashed Mitchell Starc for six in his final shot in Test cricket. And in his final innings with ball in hand, Broad finished his career with the ultimate fairytale ending, dismissing Todd Murphy and Alex Carey to claim 604 Test wickets and win England the match.

While Anderson is yet to announce where his future lies, there are grumblings that his retirement may not be too far away either. The Lancashire stalwart turned 41 on Saturday and having struggled with his fitness this year, he may choose to call it a day in the near future.

Despite some of England’s greats reaching the twilight of their careers, the future remains bright. This Ashes series has shown there are plenty of young prospects ready to step up and lead the next generation.

Harry Brook is just 24 and only made his Test debut last September. Yet at times against Australia, he looked like a seasoned pro and his 75 was pivotal in England winning the third Test at Headingley.

Similarly, Zak Crawley is only a year older than Brook and he’s established himself as a superb opening batsman. His stunning return of 189 at Old Trafford will go down in Ashes history, regardless of the match eventually being rained off.

The next time the Ashes takes place on these shores, the likes of Stokes, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow may still be fit and hungry enough to play a part. But the latest series has shown that the conveyor belt of talent in this country is as fruitful as ever and the future is in good hands.

What’s next for England?

Some members of England’s Ashes team will have their eye on the World Cup, which gets underway in October. But for the Test side, there’s plenty of World Test Championship action to look forward to over the next couple of years.

The Ashes series against Australia was the first of England’s six scheduled fixtures in the competition, which involves nine nations in total. The two sides that finish top of the table will battle it out in a final at Lord’s in the summer of 2025.

Next up for England is a trip to India for a five-match series starting in January. Stokes will be hoping to be fit and raring to go by then. The England skipper is set to spend the next six months recovering from a knee injury that has given him constant issues throughout the Ashes.

Following the India fixture, England will be back on home soil for two Test matches next summer. First up they welcome the West Indies in July, with three matches taking place at Lord’s, Trent Bridge and Edgbaston.

The following month, McCullum’s side will start another three-match series against Sri Lanka at Old Trafford, Lord’s and The Oval. If you enjoyed the Ashes and fancy seeing ‘Bazball’ in person, you can watch these series from the best seats in the house with our exclusive hospitality packages.

England will finish their World Test Championship campaign with away trips to Pakistan and New Zealand at the end of next year, before (hopefully) heading to Lord’s for the final. Fingers crossed!

The Hundred 2023: Oval Invincibles eyeing hat trick

Following the hype of The Ashes summer attention now swiftly turns to the third edition of The Hundred this August.

Stars of England’s Test side Zak Crawley and Mark Wood will line up for London Spirit at the Home of Cricket while the Oval Invincibles women’s side have their sights set on retaining the title for a third consecutive year.

Oval Invincibles chase down a hat trick of titles

Champions in each of the first two edition of The Hundred, the Oval Invincibles women’s side go into this year’s tournament confident of coming out on top once again in 2023.

Notably they have retained their captain Dane Van Niekerk, Suzie Bates and PCA Women’s Young Player of the Year in 2021 Alice Capsey who, despite her age, will be crucial with the bat and ball. The franchise based at the historic Kia Oval have also opted to keep together most of the squad that beat the Trent Rockets in last year’s final in their hopes of making it three in a row.

As for the Men’s team, they also pack a lot of power which should suit them well heading into the 100-ball format. They will be captained by Sam Billings and are able to brag plenty of international experience with spinners Sunil Narine and Adam Zampa as well as the South African power hitter Heinrich Klasson who averaged a very impressive 49.78 at this year’s IPL.

The Invincibles also have an abundance of domestic talent throughout their team. All-rounder Sam Curran became the most expensive player in IPL history earlier in the year and a lot of their hopes of victory will rest on his shoulders once again.

Opener Jason Roy and all-rounder Will Jacks – who holds the record for the highest score in the competition – also have the ability to win matches single-handedly. They both go into the tournament with a point to prove with hopes of getting into England’s white-ball squad for the T20 and ODI series’ against New Zealand.

The men’s side will miss the express pace of bowler Saqib Mahmood though who has been ruled out through injury. Despite that loss to their bowling department the Invincibles will believe that they have enough quality in their side to break into the top three and make it to the final at Lord’s for the first time.

The view from Engage's hospitality facility at the Kia Oval during a test match

The Hundred Fixtures for Oval Invincibles 2023:

Sunday 6th August – Oval Invincibles v Welsh Fire, The Kia Oval

Wednesday 9th August – Oval Invincibles v Manchester Originals, The Kia Oval

Tuesday 15th August – Oval Invincibles v London Spirit, The Kia Oval

Monday 21st August – Oval Invincibles v Trent Rockets, The Kia Oval

Ashes stars at the heart of the Spirit team

England’s Ashes stars Zak Crawley and Mark Wood will be key to London Spirit’s chances of improving on their third placed finish last campaign and reaching the final in 2023.

Led by batsman Dan Lawrence for the first time, the Spirits’ biggest strength lies within their batting department with Crawley, Rossington, Wade and Bell-Drummond all available to open. Fast bowler Mark Wood also showed how valuable he can be during the Ashes and London Spirit will be hoping he can carry his Ashes form into the tournament.

Questions do remain however over the lack of a true power hitter later down the order. The team who play they’re home fixtures at Lord’s Cricket Ground no longer have the heavy hitting West Indian Keiran Pollard so they will be relying on their skipper Lawrence, all-rounder Liam Dawson and New Zealand international Daryl Mitchell to fill the gap.

The men’s side will hope to continue their upwards trajectory after improving on their last place finish in 2021 when finishing third last season. Their women’s side on the other hand slipped down the table to a disappointing seventh in the previous edition so will be looking for an improved performance this time around.

They will hope the signing of Australia’s Grace Harris will help them to achieve this. She will slot in alongside England’s captain Heather Knight to create a formidable hitting line up. Lauren Filer – another Ashes star within the Spirit’s team – will also help to provide impressive variety to their bowling attack.

To kick off they’re campaign, the London Spirit host their London rivals Oval Invincibles at Lord’s in an unmissable clash between two sides who will both strongly fancy their chances of winning the third edition of The Hundred.

The Hundred Fixtures for London Spirit 2023:

Wednesday 2 August – London Spirit v Oval Invincibles, Lord’s Cricket Ground

Tuesday 8 August – London Spirit v Southern Brave, Lord’s Cricket Ground

Saturday 12 August – London Spirit v Trent Rockets, Lord’s Cricket Ground

Friday 18 August – London Spirit v Northern Superchargers, Lord’s Cricket Ground

Australia retain the Ashes as rain ruins England’s chances

Despite their best efforts in the limited playing time at Old Trafford, England’s hopes of winning the Ashes are over. A rain-delayed fourth Test ended in a draw, meaning the famous urn will be returning down under with Australia.

After losing the first two Tests, a win at Headingley had given England hope of a historic turnaround. The opening few days at Old Trafford threatened to turn this into one of the most exciting Ashes series in history.

But in a cruel twist of fate, a dramatic comeback was taken out of England’s hands by the weather to turn the series into a (literal) damp squib. With just 30 overs bowled in the final two days, the fourth Test was rained off, leaving the score at 2-1 to Australia.

England can now only hope of levelling the scores in the final Test at The Oval, meaning holders Australia retain the Ashes. Yet despite the disappointing end result, England’s spirited performance at Old Trafford has given huge reasons to be optimistic going forward.

The Oval Test Match

Cricket Hospitality

Bazball makes its mark

With England needing a win and the weather forecast threatening us with a three-day Test, the country sat back and prepared to see ‘Bazball’ in its purest form.

A strong bowling performance limited Australia to just 317 in a first innings that included Stuart Broad’s 600th Test wicket and an incredible diving catch from the much-maligned Jonny Bairstow.

It was England’s turn to bat and Old Trafford feared the worst when Ben Duckett was caught behind by Alex Carey after just six balls. But they needn’t have worried as Zak Crawley took the game by the scruff of the neck.

The Kent batsman was in imperious form, smashing home an incredible 189 to record just his third Test century. Crawley built up a huge partnership with Joe Root, whose 84 boosted England’s tally.

There were some concerns prior to the match when it was revealed that Moeen Ali had been pushed up the order but his 54 was the highest score from a three in the whole series, before Marnus Labuschagne beat it in his second innings.

As England built up a lead, an early declaration was on their mind as they kept one eye on the weather forecast. Then it was time to have some fun. Harry Brook, Ben Stokes and Bairstow all got in on the act, scoring 50s.

It was the first time since the 1930s that six of England’s top seven had all scored 50 in the same innings, as well as being the fastest either team has ever reached 300 in an Ashes Test innings.

England were unstoppable as they finished on 592, giving them a 275-run lead over Australia. Their only job now? Bowl them out before the rain ruins the fun.

They tried their best, but ultimately nature spoiled the party. As the action ended on day four, England had taken five wickets and were 61 runs ahead. But sadly, there was nothing they could do. A constant flow of rain meant there was no play on day five, meaning Australia retained the Ashes by default.

England v Australia Day 2

Bairstow silences his critics

Bairstow received plenty of criticism for his performances in the first three Tests – some of it was harsh, some perhaps justified. In fact, his initial inclusion in the squad raised some eyebrows considering he’s spent much of the last year sidelined with a broken leg.

The wicket keeper has had a mixed series. He’s dropped several catches and there have been calls to bump him up the order and bring in Ben Foakes behind the stumps. But after a 78 in the opening innings at Edgbaston, Bairstow’s best return prior to Old Trafford was 20, so it was a stretch to suggest his batting was keeping him in the side.

Rightly or wrongly, Stokes has stuck by his man. And the England captain’s loyalty was rewarded as Bairstow looked reborn in the fourth Test. He made three catches during Australia’s first innings (and another three in their second), including a mind-blowing diving one-hander to dismiss Mitchell Marsh.

The 33-year-old’s safe hands gave him confidence as he returned to the crease. Bairstow smashed Australia around the park to earn an unbeaten 99, which would have been his 13th Test century had Jimmy Anderson’s lbw dismissal not signalled the end of England’s first innings.

England may have ultimately failed in their mission to reclaim the Ashes on home soil. However, Bairstow certainly played his part in running the Aussies close and his return to form following his now infamous run out at Lord’s has justified his continued selection.

Does Test cricket need a shake up?

The evolution of England’s style under Brendan McCullum and Stokes has made them exciting to watch again. The all-action nature of this summer’s Ashes series has reignited the country’s love for the game.

So, does Test cricket as a whole need to take a leaf out of the ‘Bazball’ playbook? It seems strange that such a thrilling match can be spoiled by something as trivial as the weather. Most of us can take losing a series when we’ve been outplayed by a better team. But when the rain takes over, it’s just underwhelming.

It’s right that cricket has been this way since its inception and traditions need to be respected to an extent. But the game has modernised in many ways, whether that’s through umpire technology, equipment or playing style.

So would it not make sense to have contingency plans in place to deal with adverse weather? Having a day or two in reserve in the event that matches are shortened would ensure that as much cricket as possible is played.

Earlier in the week when it was clear that days four and five were in jeopardy, playing later in the day or having a shortened lunch break to get extra overs played would have made logical sense.

Regardless of the outcome, it’s been a thrilling Ashes series and after their performance in the first two Tests, Australia have played their part in retaining the urn. However, it would have been so much more engrossing for everybody involved had there been something on the line going into the final Test at The Oval.

Can England Make a Stunning Ashes Comeback?

A third Ashes Test, another thrilling matchup and finally an England win over Australia.

After being named in the side after the second test, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood steered England to a 3 wicket victory as Ben Stokes’ side were triumphant once again at Headingley. It was a result that kept England’s hopes of regaining the Ashes well and truly alive as they reduced the series deficit to 2-1. With two tests to go, can England pull off the unthinkable comeback?

Another close encounter saw an Australian defeat for the first time in the 2023 Ashes as Pat Cummins’ side were edged out by three wickets.

At times it looked as though the result could have gone either way after poor middle order batting from England saw them slip to 87-5 in their first innings as well as a rain delayed day three but it was Australia who were unable to set enough runs for England to chase.

The home side knocked off a target of 251 on day four with a combination of stubborn batting from Harry Brook and Chris Woakes as well as some vital boundaries from Mark Wood.

Wood and Woakes were both introduced to the team in order to replace Jimmy Anderson and the injured Ollie Pope. Wood’s reintroduction proved a brilliant decision as he picked up a ‘five-for’ in Australia’s first innings and the pair collected 13 vital wickets between them.

England Test Match

The Ashes 2023

After a dogged display in Australia’s first innings from Mitchell Marsh scoring 118 runs, it was Australia’s tailenders who ultimately let them down with the last five wickets falling for just 23 runs. England’s first innings was also saved by that man again Ben Stokes as he scored a resilient 80 steering England from 87-5 to 237 all out.

Aside from a rally from Travis Head scoring 77 runs, the tourists’ second innings was less than impressive as they were bowled out for 224 and from there an England win looked promising. However, England didn’t make it easy for themselves when Stokes fell for just 13, caught behind to leave them 161-5.

It looked even more bleak for England when out of form Jonny Bairstow was bowled for just 5 runs with the home side slipping to 171-5. But it was a combination of a Harry Brook 75 and an unbeaten 32 and 16 from Chris Woakes and Mark Wood, respectively, that saw England over the line for their first win of the series.

What does this result mean for the rest of the Ashes?

The result sees England half the series deficit to 2-1 as only two test matches remain. The sides will next battle it out in Manchester at Old Trafford in a pivotal game with either result dictating which way the series goes.

An Australia win would mean they would retain the Ashes and England would have to wait until the 2025/26 season in order to regain them for the first time since 2015. However, if England were to win it would take the series right down to the wire at The Oval with both teams contesting a one-match shootout for the urn.

So can England do it? When Ben Stokes was asked if England could win the last two matches, his reply was simple: ‘Yep’. There will be confidence oozing through the England camp at the moment and the Old Trafford test has all the hallmarks of a thriller.

It will certainly be an extraordinary feat for this England team to achieve after the only team to ever comeback from 2-0 down to win the Ashes was the Australian team all the way back in the 1936-1937 series.

However, Australian captain Pat Cummins dismissed any suggestion that the series’ momentum had shifted in England’s favour and also came back with a simple answer. When asked why not he replied: ‘2-1’. The answer of a man who is not as confident as he was before Headingley perhaps? Or does he have a valid point as England still have a huge mountain to climb?

It would also be an impressive achievement as it is only the first Ashes that England have played their new era of cricket in, ‘Bazball’. ‘Bazball’ is a term coined by journalists to describe England’s new positive approach to test cricket, winning at all costs and no fear of failure.

It is named after England’s new coach Brendon McCullum relating to how they played test cricket throughout 2022. If England were to do it, it would change many opinions on ‘Bazball’ and whether it is a valid tactic in test cricket after it was heavily criticised by journalists and England fans on social media during the second test.

In preparation for the fourth test at Old Trafford England have announced an unchanged team from the test at Headingley. Much to the surprise and disgruntlement of some England fans Jonny Bairstow has kept his place in the side.

The Yorkshireman has had a poor series so far scoring only 43 runs in his last four innings as well as an array of dropped catches. Many have called for the introduction of wicket keeper Ben Foakes but he is yet to make an appearance as the home side have kept their faith in Bairstow.

It was clear from the tourists’ defeat at Headingley, they missed Nathan Lyon. The Aussie spinner was ruled out of the series on day 2 of the second test with a calf injury. With no recognised spinner in the side, will it have an effect on whether Australia can get over the line or will it cause the series to go right down to the wire at the Oval?

Want to watch the thrilling encounter live? Watch the Ashes from the best seats in the house with Engage Hospitality.

England announce packed home schedule for 2024

Attention turns from The Ashes to the T20 World Cup next summer

Following an extraordinary summer of Ashes cricket this year, England have announced next summer’s home fixtures including two test series’ against West Indies and Sri Lanka, alongside England’s white ball clashes with Pakistan and Australia either side of the T20 World Cup.

All eyes next year will be on the T20 World Cup taking place in June. After England take on New Zealand in a thrilling white ball series to conclude this summer’s action, Jos Buttler’s side will kickstart an incredible summer of home cricket in 2024 with four T20s against Pakistan in May.

Last year England narrowly beat Pakistan in an intense seven-match away T20 series. Following that, England’s white ball side went to T20 World Cup 2022 in the form they required to put together a formidable run to the final where they met Abar Azam’s men once again. On that occasion it was England who came out on top with the help of an inspired innings from Ben Stokes to take the game away from Pakistan and deliver England their first T20 title for 12 years.

Off the back of that historic win, next May’s four match series will provide a mouth-watering rematch between the two teams and offer the perfect preparation for England before they travel to the Caribbean and United States to defend their title.

Next up for the Test side

Once they’ve returned Ben Stokes’ red ball side will then be back to entertain crowds in their own unique fashion when they begin their first three-match test series of the summer at Lord’s on 10th July against the West Indies.

The two nations will bring a lot of recent history into the series. The last time they met England were thoroughly beaten by 10 wickets in Granada – sparking major changes in the English leadership team at the time.

That followed the last red ball series on home soil between the two sides in 2020 which was played out with the absence of fans as England edged a close series 2-1, so it will be fantastic to see the two nations go head-to-head in front of a packed-out crowd at Lord’s in 2024.

Sri Lanka will then be England’s next test opponents beginning on August 21st. England hold an impressive record against Sri Lanka – unbeaten in series’ against them since 2014 – and will look to carry on that proud run this summer during a three test match series at hosted Old Trafford, Lord’s and The Kia Oval.

To round off the summer the men will face then face their old foes Australia once again in a 3-match IT20 series and 5-match ODI series. The Ashes series this summer has captured the attention of the nation with its iconic rivalry and contrasting styles, and the likes of Jonny Bairstow and Pat Cummins will be clashing once again next September.  

With the conclusion of The Ashes followed by the ODI World Cup taking place in India this September and a packed schedule of home cricket in 2024, the next 12 months has the all the makings to be an unmissable year of cricket.

England’s 2024 home schedule

IT20 series vs Pakistan

  • May 22: First IT20 – Headingley, Leeds
  • May 25: Second IT20 – Edgbaston, Birmingham
  • May 28: Third IT20 – Sophia Gardens, Cardiff
  • May 30: Fourth IT20 – The Kia Oval

IT20 series vs Pakistan

  • May 22: First IT20 – Headingley, Leeds
  • May 25: Second IT20 – Edgbaston, Birmingham
  • May 28: Third IT20 – Sophia Gardens, Cardiff
  • May 30: Fourth IT20 – The Kia Oval

Test series vs Sri Lanka

  • Aug 21-25: First Test – Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester
  • Aug 29 – Sept 2: Second Test – Lord’s, London
  • Sept 6-10: Third Test – The Kia Oval

IT20 series vs Australia

  • Sept 11: First IT20 – The Ageas Bowl
  • Sept 13: Second IT20 – Sophia Gardens
  • Sept 15: Third IT20 – Emirates Old Trafford

One-day international series vs Australia

  • Sept 19: First one-day international – Trent Bridge
  • Sept 21: Second one-day international – Headingley
  • Sept 24: Third one-day international – Seat Unique Riverside, Chester-le-Street
  • Sept 27: Fourth one-day international – Lord’s
  • Sept 29: Fifth one-day international – Seat Unique Stadium, Bristol

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