Joe Root will be defending the famous Ashes urn and his position as England’s Professional Cricketers’ Association’s Most Valuable Player when the Ashes Series gets underway this evening.

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The Yorkshire batsman ended the summer with 326 MVP points, four ahead of Ben Stokes with Moeen Ali trailing them on 280 in the overall rankings.

The England captain had a stellar summer with the bat, averaging 60.75 against the red ball as he led the side to series victories against South Africa and West Indies.

However, his toughest test begins in Australia tonight, where he will be aiming to retain the Ashes after the 3-2 home victory in 2015.

Root has already confirmed his team for the opening Test with Nottinghamshire’s Jake Ball and Lancashire’s James Anderson coming into the team in place of Craig Overton and Mason Crane from the final warm-up fixture against a Cricket Australia XI.

Anderson, winner of the Investec Test Match Player of the Summer, as adjudged by the rankings, picked up his accolade at the NatWest PCA Awards and will be looking to retain his position at the top of the Test Match format.

England’s leading wicket taker is set to start in his fourth Ashes tour down under and will be full of confidence after a record breaking summer. The Lancastrian became the first Englishman to take 500 Test wickets in a summer of 39 scalps at an average of 14.

Fellow seam bowler Chris Woakes has impressed in the warm-up matches in Australia which included taking 6-57 against a Cricket Australia XI and appears to be back to full fitness after a summer plagued by injury.

The 28-year-old will be looking to regain the form of 2016 which saw him finish the Test Match summer at the top of the MVP leader board for England.

It will be a first tour of Australia with the England side for Ali, where he will start as England’s frontline spin bowler.

The Worcestershire all-rounder finished in third place on both the overall summer and the Test MVP, averaging 30 runs with the bat and taking 30 wickets at an average of 21 in the longer form of the game.

One man who has scored runs in abundance during an overseas Ashes tour is Alastair Cook, England’s all-time leading run scorer.

A memorable 2010/11 series saw England’s opener score 766 runs, averaging 127.66, with three hundred’s and numerous records left shattered in his wake. He understandably ran away with England’s Test Match MVP for winter that year.

The PCA MVP Rankings system was introduced in 2007, an innovation which provides a more rigorous analysis of player performances than traditional batting and bowling averages.

The rankings were designed by the players to identify the match-winners and key influencers of matches throughout the domestic and international season.