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Pakistan v England series review: What lies ahead in 2023

England enjoyed a near-perfect Test series in Pakistan, not only sweeping their hosts 3-0 but also seeing a number of players press firm claims for regular places in the side.

That can only serve them well as they prepare for a 2023 which sees them start their Test programme in New Zealand before a date with Ireland and the small matter of a home Ashes series against Australia.

England are 11/8 To Win Outright the Ashes series, with Australia priced at 1/1 and the Draw 11/2.

With the bat, Ben Duckett made the most of his return to the Test arena after a six-year absence, while Harry Brook showed the sort of talent that looks to set serve his country well for some years to come.

With the ball, seamer Ollie Robinson showed that he now has the tip-top levels of fitness to back up his undoubted ability, while Mark Wood returned from injury to pick up crucial wickets and give the attack a much-needed injection of pace.

Then, to top it all off, teenage leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed burst on to the scene in the final Test in Karachi, taking seven wickets in the match - including 5-48 in the second innings.

Batting options pile up for Stokes and McCullum

England went into the series with a number of spots not nailed down in their batting line-up, especially with Jonny Bairstow absent due to a leg injury and opener Alex Lees having been jettisoned after being a regular during the summer.

However, by the end of the three matches the batting garden was very rosy, despite modest contributions from both skipper Stokes and Joe Root.

Yorkshire right-hander Brook led the way with 468 runs at an average of 93.60, making three centuries from five innings to mark himself out as a potential future world star.

Left-hander Duckett was not far behind as he racked up 357 runs at 71.40, although his opening partner Zak Crawley struggled for runs after making 122 and 50 in the series opener in Rawalpindi.

His position is far from certain, although his attacking approach clearly makes him a favourite of the current management team.

Ahmed shows the future is now

England’s bowlers were every bit as impressive as their batters, with veteran James Anderson and fellow seamer Robinson proving miserly in their approach, as well as picking up four wickets apiece in the second innings of the series opener, which the tourists won by 74 runs.

Debutant Will Jacks had taken six wickets with his off-spin in the first innings of that win, but he would be usurped by Ahmed before the series was over.

The youthful leggie looked made for the international scene as he debuted in the series finale, taking two wickers in the first innings before tearing through the Pakistan middle-order second time around - with Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan and Saud Shakeel dismissed to reduce the hosts to 177-6 from a relatively strong position at 164-3.

Jack Leach also deserves an honourable mention for his team-leading 15 wickets in the series, even if the left-arm spinner was a little expensive at times.

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Quality rather than quantity in 2023

Next year is somewhat limited when it comes to Test cricket for England, with one-day international action dominating in the build-up to the World Cup in India late on in the year - where England are 3/1 To Win Outright.

Two Tests in New Zealand will not be as feared as they might have been even a year ago, with the Black Caps having been the first victims of the Stokes captaincy and Brendon McCullum head coach set-up.

They were swept 3-0 in England in June, as the Three Lions embarked on a run which now reads eight wins from nine games played under the permanent leadership of all-rounder Stokes.

A 2-1 home series victory over South Africa followed the success over Test world champions New Zealand, with the complete domination in Pakistan continuing the winning run in style.

A single Test against Ireland then kicks off the home summer, but it is the five-match Ashes which is, of course, the centre of attention.

Played a little earlier than usual - in June and July - England will go into the showdown with the Baggy Greens knowing that they have not lost to the oldest rivals on home soil since 2001.

The last series in England in 2019 was drawn 2-2 and that was enough for the Aussies to retain the Ashes, but the tourists will know that the current version of their rivals will be ready to fire on all cylinders and will not take a backwards step in their bid to regain the little urn.

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