Anderson, Broad, and their Aussie battles
Since July 2005, there have been six Ashes series played, three in each country. Each of these series has consisted of five Tests, which means 30 Tests have been played between these two teams in the last ten years. It's easily the most Tests played between a pair of teams during this period - the next-highest is 22, between Australia and India.
The frequent battles for the Ashes also means frequent exchanges between batsmen from one team against bowlers from the other, which in turn means plenty of head-to-head data to look at. James Anderson and Stuart Broad have been regulars for England in four of those series - Anderson has played each of the last 20 Ashes Tests since 2009, while Broad has played 17. Here's how they have fared against the Australia batsmen individually and as a group.
Michael Clarke v Anderson and Broad
In 30 Tests against England, Michael Clarke averages 44.87; in 80 Tests against all other teams, he averages 52.90. This difference of eight runs in his average is largely due to two bowlers - James Anderson and Stuart Broad. Out of the 47 times he has been dismissed in Tests against England, 18 have been to their current new-ball pair of Anderson and Broad, with each having dismissed him nine times.
Surprisingly, Anderson has been more successful against Clarke in Australia, dismissing him five times at an average of 25.60; in England, Clarke averages 40 against him. In the 2010-11 Ashes in Australia, Anderson nailed Clarke three times in 91 balls, conceding just 32 runs - an average of 10.66 runs per dismissal; in no other series has he dismissed Clarke more than twice. Broad, on the other hand, has been far more dominant against Clarke in England, dismissing him seven times at an average of 21.42. In the 2013 series alone, Broad dismissed Clarke five times conceding 84 runs, an average of 16.80 runs per dismissal.
Together, Anderson and Broad have dismissed Clarke 18 times in Tests, at an average of 28.94; against all the other England bowlers, Clarke's Test average is very nearly twice as good - 56.71.
Brad Haddin v Anderson and Broad
In the 2013-14 Ashes series, one of the key factors in Australia's ability to recover from dodgy top-order contributions was the consistency of Brad Haddin at No. 7. Repeatedly, he put together partnerships with one of the specialist batsmen or the tail, and ended up dragging Australia to totals which gave the bowlers enough runs to play with. In eight innings in the series, he scored 493 runs at 61.62, with six scores of 50 or more. In the previous Ashes series, in 2013 which England had won 3-0, Haddin had scored 206 runs in ten innings at 22.88. A part of the difference was in the way he tackled Anderson and Broad in the two series (though Graeme Swann also played a huge role in the 2013 series, dismissing Haddin four times conceding 80 runs, compared to figures of none for 76 against Haddin in the 2013-14 series). Anderson and Broad had combined figures of 2 for 184 against Haddin in 2013-14 (average of 92 runs per wicket); in 2013, they had combined figures of 4 for 80, with each bowler getting him twice.
Overall, though both bowlers have dismissed him six times each in Tests, Broad has done much better, conceding 25 runs per dismissal compared with Anderson's 52. Haddin's numbers also suggest he prefers playing at home far more than in England: in ten Tests against England at home, he averages 53.31; in nine Tests against them in England, his average drops to 32.26. The extent to which England's bowlers keep his runs and lower-order partnerships in check could well be a key factor in the home team's success in the series.
Shane Watson v Anderson and Broad
Shane Watson isn't a certainty to figure in Australia's starting line-up in Cardiff, but his record against England is much better than against other teams: he has played 18 of Australia's last 20 Tests against England, and has averaged 43.57 in those games; against all other teams, he averages 31.60 in 40 Tests. His poorest average in an Ashes series is 38.33, in 2013-14.
Like Haddin, Watson too has preferred playing Anderson, not Broad. Though Anderson has dismissed Watson eight times, each dismissal has come at a cost of nearly 52 runs; against Broad, Watson has averaged only 26.57.
In the upcoming series, though, two of the key batsmen for Australia will probably be Steven Smith and David Warner. Smith averages less than 38 in 13 Tests against England, but has been in sensational form since the 2013-14 Ashes series, averaging 93.43 in his last 11 Tests.
Both batsmen, though, don't have outstanding records against Anderson and Broad, averaging less than 40 against them. Broad had a bit to say about Smith batting at No. 3, and that's perhaps based on his record against Smith in the 2013 Ashes in England, when he conceded only 45 runs off 122 balls and dismissed him twice. Against Warner, Anderson has the better stats in England.
There's another Australian batsman in the current squad who has played both these England bowlers, and done really well against them. Chris Rogers isn't a certainty for the first Test, and has been in the news for reasons other than strictly cricketing, but his stats against Anderson and Broad are outstanding, with averages of more than 65 against each.
Aggregating all those numbers, and whittling it down to stats in England only, the difference between Anderson and Broad is quite stark. Overall in these series - in 2009 and 2013 - Broad averaged 28.70 to Anderson's 35.08, but against these six batsmen, Broad has been by far the more effective bowler, conceding less than half the number of runs per wicket that Anderson has. In Australia, on the other hand, Anderson has averaged 38.68 against these batsmen to Broad's 41.46.
Anderson and Broad have been instrumental in many of England's successes against Australia recently, but in England, with the red Dukes ball, Broad has been the bigger threat against the Australian top-order batsmen who are around for this series. If these numbers spur Anderson to step it up a few gears over the next couple of months, that can't be a bad thing for England.
S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter