Why Test cricket in England is just different

England's Joe Root celebrates reaching his century on day one of the first Ashes test match at Edgbaston, Birmingham. Picture date: Friday June 16, 2023. (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

There’s something fundamentally different to cricket in England.

Be it the proximity to the place in which it was born, the spectacularly unexplainable effect that grey skies here have on the game or the raucous chants of the home crowd whose very vocals seem to have a say on the movement of the ball.

Whatever the reason, and whatever the protestations of fans right across the world that ‘their backyard is clearly the best’, the opening match of the 2023 Ashes has shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that Test cricket just seems to sing on the isle it was created.

Day 1: Zak Crawley creams the best Test bowler in the world through the covers with a sound that says not this time.

England are different to the last time Australia saw them. Eighteen months ago, on the corresponding ball of the reverse fixture, Rory Burns watched helplessly as a Mitchell Starc’s yorker swung in to destroy his stumps. Bazball has arrived at the Ashes, and if Pat Cummins isn’t safe, no one is.

Six and a half hours later, Ben Stokes inconceivably waves his players inside from the safe confines of his bucket hat, even as Joe Root is hitting boundaries with ease

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