England and Australia Cricket: The Struggle Continues!

Steve Smith and Michael Clarke of Australia (Getty)

We know that cricket tours can seem like long and drawn-out processes if you're not sure of what happens in them. We also know that a lot of people, after the end of the Ashes series, were expecting Australia to pack up and go home. Here's why the international cricket goes on, and what you can expect to see in the coming weeks.

Isn't this England-Australia thing over?

The Ashes, meaning the test series between England and Australia, is indeed over and done with - you've just seen the fifth and final test played out. However, there's a whole host of cricket action coming up. There's a Twenty20 international between England and Australia, which takes place on Monday August 31 in the now-familiar surroundings of Sophia Gardens in Cardiff.

What importance could this possibly have?

Actually, every one of these matches is important. The Twenty20 international, while still considered to be the most "fun" of the three forms of the game being played by England and Australia this summer, gives both countries the chance to hone their skills and team selection before the next World Twenty20 tournament. It also gives Alex Hales, the cause celebre of the moment among England fans, the chance to prove his point in the middle.

There have been some epic encounters in Twenty20 between England and Australia, but minds go back to the first ever T20 international, played by the two nations during the 2005 Ashes tour. England won, setting down an important marker for the rest of the series. Of course, with the Indian Premier League and T20 Blast both regarded highly by cricket fans, T20 is thoroughly professional and competitive these days.

As for the one-day series, there are five matches played across England and Wales, which will contribute to the all-important ICC One-Day Rankings. Points are at stake, as is a prize - the winner of the series wins the Royal London One-Day Trophy, which has a confusing title given that the series isn't only being played in London and, er, doesn't contain any members of the Royal Family.

Will these series have the usual cast?

Some of the players from the test series will remain, but you'll have to get used to some new names. Hales is a given, as he's on such great form for Nottinghamshire in all forms of the game, but both Alastair Cook and Michael Clarke step aside after the fifth test. Clarke has announced his retirement from international cricket, while Cook, a careful run-accumulator, always looked in one-day series a bit like Hugh Grant pretending to be an action hero.

Stepping into Cook's brogues for the one-day series is Eoin Morgan, the Dubliner with the Colin Farrell accent who, thanks to the joys of ICC eligibility criteria, is an England cricketer. He's been England's stand-out limited-overs performer at various points in the past, but was recently given a break by his county, Middlesex, in order to rediscover his form, so it'll be interesting to see him play.

Steve Smith sticks around and takes the Australia captaincy, while other fearsome limited-overs specialists will come into the side, like George Bailey. Bailey might share a name with Jimmy Stewart's sensitive and broke star of "It's A Wonderful Life", but don't be deceived - he's as tough as nails and will give the England bowlers a tough time.

Marcus Stoinis is added to the bowling attack after success in the "A" team, while the tourists welcome back Ashton Agar, who, during the 2013 Ashes series as a specialist spinner, scored 98 runs when batting at number 11, then failed with the ball. Still aged only 21, he's got plenty of years in him.

Fine, tell me a top bet, then

England is 11/8 with Paddy Power to win the first one-day international, which takes place on Thursday 3 September.

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