Cardiff to stage 2015 Ashes opener

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LONDON: England will be hoping history repeats itself when their bid to regain the Ashes next year starts in Cardiff. Monday saw the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announce the international schedule for its 2015 home season. And it was the choice of the Welsh capital ground to stage the first Test against Australia, starting on July 8 that was arguably the most eye-catching decision. England were whitewashed 5-0 by their oldest foes in Australia during the 2013/14 Ashes, a reverse which led Andy Flower to stand down as team coach and be replaced by Peter Moores.
It was at Cardiff where England and Australia played out a thrilling draw in the 2009 Ashes opener as the hosts last-wicket pair of James Anderson and Monty Panesar held out to deny the tourists victory. That result sent England on their way to a 2-1 series win after a 5-0 drubbing ‘Down Under’ in 2006/07 and the first of three consecutive Ashes campaign triumphs. The remainder of the 2015 Ashes will see Tests played at Lord’s, Edgbaston, Trent Bridge and The Oval.
Last year, England triumphed 3-0 on home soil before shortly afterwards surrendering the Ashes in tame fashion in the return series. Australia captain Michael Clarke urged Aussie fans to turn out in force in 2015. “Last summer at home the crowds got right behind us and it really spurred us on”, Clarke said in a Cricket Australia statement. “We know there are plenty of Australians in the UK and for those that might be considering making the long journey, the efforts will certainly be appreciated by the team,” he added.
Ireland matches: Australia will begin the one-day leg of their tour against Ireland on August 27, with England also due to face the Irish - one of the world’s leading non-Test nations - on a date still to be confirmed. “We are thrilled to welcome both England and Australia to Ireland once again,” said Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom. “Although opportunities to find space in the Future Tours Programme (FTP) are rare against the world’s leading teams, it is apparent that Cricket Australia (CA) and the ECB are committed to ensuring that the top Associates, like Scotland and Ireland, have a chance to test themselves against the best and to help us to improve.” Prior to the Australia series, England will face New Zealand in Test and one-day series.
Last year, England won a home two-Test series against New Zealand 2-0 and, as the was the case in 2013, both Tests in next year’s series will take place at Lord’s and Headingley. “Next summer promises to be a hugely exciting international season with England’s bid to regain the Ashes set to be one of the major highlights of the sporting year,” said ECB chief executive David Collier. “We’re also delighted to be hosting New Zealand again across all three formats of the international game.” 

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