What a year we have in prospect for the England cricket team. After mixed results in 2018, together with some off-field distractions, it’s hard to believe that next year could be more eventful. But the signs are promising.

During the course of 2019, England will host the cricket World Cup, a first ever Test match against Ireland, together with a home Ashes series. Cricket fans are likely to feel like they are in seventh heaven. Before we move on to look at next year, allow us to take some time to cover the highlights of 2018.

Tour of Australia and New Zealand

The year didn’t start too promisingly, with the final Test of the Ashes series Down Under seeing England crushed in Sydney. A mammoth first innings score of 649 for 7 declared was enough to put the Aussies in the box seat, with a startling 171 from Khawaja leading the way. He was one of three centurions, as England took a battering. England’s attempts to save the game were disappointing, with the side eventually beaten by an innings and 123 runs. An injury to captain Joe Root only made things worse. Australia had regained the Ashes, England had missed the absent Ben Stokes and the team were at a low point.

Despite their disappointing Test match form, England remained very much the team to beat in One Day Internationals. This was confirmed in some style, as they triumphed in back to back away series, against Australia and then New Zealand.

England arrived at Eden Park for the First Test against New Zealand, having regained some confidence. There was hope that the team would perform strongly and put the Ashes nightmare behind them, particularly with Stokes re-joining the squad.

New Zealand won the toss and put England in to bat. What followed was one of the more embarrassing episodes in English Test cricket history: England were all out for just 58, undone by some beautiful bowling from New Zealand strike bowlers Southee and (4-25) and Boult (6-32). The entire innings lasted barely 20 overs. The scorecard was a sorry sight, with Craig Overton contributing more than half of the team’s runs. Elsewhere, Root, the returning Stokes, Bairstow, Moeen and Broad failed to trouble the scorers. There was to be no coming back from here.

The second Test saw a much improved performance from England. Indeed, the team were on top for much of the match, but fell two wickets short of forcing the victory that would have drawn the series. Instead, the second Test was to end in a draw and England had been beaten away from home in a Test match series yet again. The winter of Test match cricket wouldn’t live long in English memories.