Ben Stokes dominated the most recent Ashes summer in England in 2019, when he was man of the match in the World Cup final against New Zealand before scoring an unbeaten 135 in a stunning Test win over Australia at Headingley.
Four years on, Stokes is England's Test captain and, having won 11 of his 13 matches since taking charge, he is 8/5 to lead the hosts to an Ashes series victory against Australia.
|What||England v Australia, 1st Test|
|When||Friday 16th June to Tuesday 20th June|
|How to watch||Sky Sports Cricket & Main Event|
|Odds||England 5/4, Draw 4/1, Australia 11/8|
Born in Christchurch in New Zealand, where his father was a professional rugby league player, Ben Stokes came through the ranks at Durham and made his first-team debut at the age of 17.
Even as a teenager he was tipped to reach the international stage. He played for at the Under-19 World Cup in 2009 before earning an England Lions call-up and then making his ODI debut against Ireland in August 2011.
His first Test match came against Australia in Adelaide on the 2013/14 Ashes tour and his maiden wicket was Aussie captain Michael Clarke.
England lost that series 5-0 but Stokes will be hoping for a far happier outcome in his first Ashes as skipper.
Stokes has had an outstanding career in all three formats for England, winning the man-of-the-match award in the 2019 World Cup final and scoring an unbeaten 52 to seal victory over Pakistan in last year's T20 World Cup final.
He was player of the tournament at the Indian Premier League in 2017 and is only the second England player, after Ian Botham, to score 5,000 runs and take 100 wickets in Test cricket.
Stokes' stunning 2019 summer saw him named as BBC Sports Personality of the Year and receive an OBE in the New Year Honours.
He was Wisden's Leading Cricketer in the World in 2020, 2021 and 2023. His 135 not out in England's one-wicket victory against in 2019 is widely regarded as one of the greatest innings in Test history and in April 2022, he was appointed England Test captain after the resignation of Joe Root.
No player has hit more sixes in Test cricket than Stokes' 109 – a record previously held by England coach Brendon McCullum – and the left-hander is one of the most destructive batsmen in world cricket.
However, Stokes also has an excellent cricketing brain and a shrewd understanding of match situations.
In his famous Ashes innings at Headingley four years ago, he scored just three runs off the first 72 balls, digging in to frustrate Australia's bowlers.
As wickets tumbled at the other end, he moved through the gears and finished unbeaten on 135 with 11 fours and eight sixes.
Stokes' bowling has been hampered by fitness problems recently but at his best he is a huge wicket-taking threat, strong enough to extract pace and bounce from even the flattest wickets.
The England captain is also a brilliant fielder whose 96 Test catches include a stunning diving effort at slip to dismiss Australia's Adam Voges during Stuart Broad's amazing spell of 8-15 at Trent Bridge in 2015.
Stokes has scored 28 fifties and 12 centuries in 92 Test matches and his top score was a memorable innings of 258 from just 198 balls against South Africa in Cape Town in January 2016.
That remains the highest score in Test history made by a batsman coming in at number six and it is also the fastest 250 in the format.
Stokes goes into the 2023 Ashes with a batting average of 35.9 and a bowling average of 32.1. He is six wickets short of 200 in Test cricket and his best bowling figures are 6-22 against the West Indies at Lord's in 2017.
He has claimed six wickets in an innings on two other occasions, both in Ashes Tests, 6-36 in the second innings of England's 2015 Trent Bridge victory and 6-99 in Sydney in January 2014.
Stokes is 7/1 to be England's Top Team Batter in the 2023 Ashes series with Joe Root, his predecessor as captain, 6/4 and Ollie Pope 7/2.
He is 7/1 to score the Fastest Series Fifty in terms of balls faced. He reached 50 off just 36 deliveries against the West Indies at Old Trafford in 2020, when he was promoted to open the batting, and last December he smashed 41 off just 18 balls against Pakistan in Rawalpindi. Stokes is to be named Player of the Series.