The Ashes: Australia and England look to put off-field problems to one side as fierce rivalry reignites

    England captain Joe Root (left) and Australia captain Pat Cummins (right) pose for a photo.

    (CNN)Australia and England take to the field for the first Test on Wednesday of the highly-anticipated Ashes series, with both teams burdened by off-pitch scandals in recent weeks.

    Considered by some the pinnacle of cricket, The Ashes, is five-Test series of contests between the two powerhouses and is the sport's oldest rivalry.
    Beginning in 1882, there have been 71 Ashes series, with Australia winning 33, England victorious in 32, with six draws.
      England endured a dismal defeat by Australia on home soil at The Oval in that 1882 encounter, with a newspaper, the Sporting Times, carrying a satirical obituary of English cricket, stating that: "The body will be cremated and the ashes taken back to Australia."
        When England traveled to Australia for the return series, it gained revenge with captain Ivo Bligh awarded a small terracotta urn to symbolize the winning of the Ashes.
        That tiny trophy is arguably the most precious prize in world cricket, though the 72nd edition of the series begins under something of a cloud.
        English cricket has been rocked by the Yorkshire racism saga, while Australia head into the series with a new captain in fast bowler Pat Cummins after Tim Paine stepped down over a "sexting" scandal which laid dormant for more than three years.
          "The way the buildup has been here, it's been a little bit challenging in certain ways," England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler said before day one of the opening Test.
          "What's important is to again, assess conditions and bowl well with what's required on the pitch."
          Ahead of the first Test at the Gabba in Brisbane on Wednesday, here's everything you need to know.
          (Left to right) Ollie Pope, Mark Wood, Joe Root, Pat Cummins, Steve Smith and Cameron Green posing for a photo.

          Living up to the hype

          Both teams will have to go a way to live up to the excitement of the last Ashes in 2019.
          When the two nations last faced off in England, Australia retained the famous urn on opposition soil with a 2-2 draw for the first time in nearly two decades behind the brilliancy of batter Steve Smith and an excellent bowling attack, led by Cummins.
          But with each side's disrupted preparations, it may be the case of whoever can regroup the quickest will end up on top.
          Cummins and Root pose for a photo.
          Despite entering with a new captain, playing on home soil, Australia are firm favorites to retain the Ashes for a second successive series.
          It is a feat not achieved by Australia since 2002-03 when Steve Waugh's side claimed an eighth straight series win.
          And behind Cummins -- the world's No. 1 ranked bowler -- Australia will hope to rattle through an inexperienced England batting line up with his fellow fast bowlers Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.
          Smith is Australia's danger man with the bat. The 32-year-old was the leading run scorer in the past three Ashes and has made the third most Ashes centuries in history, with 11 from 27 Tests.
          For England, the return of star all-rounder Ben Stokes couldn't have come at a better time.
          The 30-year-old had taken a break from all cricket in July for his mental well-being and to recover from a finger injury but was added to the Ashes squad in October.