After the customary salvos by Australians Nathan Lyon and David Warner, one of the greatest sporting rivalries - Ashes is set to resume as Australia and England lock-horns at Gabba, Brisbane.

Mitchell Johnson battered the English into submission on their last visit in 2013/2014, as the new-look England side - including 10 players unfazed by that sobering experience, the battle for glory.

England’s preparation for the series have been far from ideal

The suspension of talismanic all-rounder Ben Stokes, under investigation over a nightclub brawl, has already dealt a fatal blow to their chances of retaining the urn.

Practice matches against some weak opposition on docile pitches hardly inspire confidence in a brittle batting line-up when pitted against a quality Australian pace attack. The prospect of facing Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins at Gabba, where hosts are unbeaten over 28 Tests stretching back to 1989 pose the toughest challenge for the tourists. Three of the five top-order batsmen - Mark Stoneman, James Vince and Dawid Malan are yet to prove their credentials at the Test Level.

That puts a greater onus on Alastair Cook’s stickability in the top order and Joe Root’s ability to churn out runs for England’s chances in the series. Apart from being leaders of their sides, Joe Root and Steve Smith, arguably the leading test batsmen are pivotal to their teams putting enough runs for their bowlers to force a result.

The skilful James Anderson, only the third fast-bowler to bag 500 test scalps; along with his new-ball partner Stuart Broad would be looking to exploit Australian batting frailties.

Australia too have been an unsettled side of late

Former legend Shane Warne has derided the team selection - with uncapped Cameron Bancroft replacing talented Matt Renshaw and discarded Tim Paine who has not played a Test since 2010, being recalled.

Left-handed batsman Shaun Marsh has also got an opportunity to resurrect his career. The aggressive opening batsman David Warner (20 centuries in 66 tests) capable of decimating opposition attacks combined with home advantage gives Aussies slight edge over their opponents, although barring a 5-0 drubbing on their last tour Down-Under, Poms have been victorious in last four out of five Ashes series.

With showers forecast over the last two days, England would be fancying their chances of leaving Gabbatoir on parity en route to more favourable conditions in Adelaide. As interest in Test cricket continues to decline due to the popularity of a plethora of T20 leagues, a riveting Ashes series would be a timely reminder of the primacy of 5-day game over the limited-overs format.