The dust has only just settled on the 2019 Cricket World Cup but already we are turning our attention towards the upcoming Ashes series between England and Australia!
The five match Test series gets underway on Thursday, the 1st of August and we’ll have you covered with a stand-alone preview for each game! However, today we are taking a look at the series as a whole and providing some of our best future bets for the Ashes Test series below!
The squads have been announced and with the hype now settled on the World Cup, the build-up for The Ashes has reached fever pitch. The first Test will kick off on Thursday from Edgbaston, the scene of one of the most famous Test matches ever played!
Lord’s will host the second Test, followed by matches at Headingley, Old Trafford and The Oval to round out the series.
If the lead up matches are anything to go by, it could be a series dominated by the bowlers. England squared off against Ireland in a one-off Test match to warm up for the Ashes, and were shockingly bowled out for just 85 in the first innings. After bowling Ireland out for 207, England made 303 in the second innings, setting a target for 182 runs. The English bowling unit went on to bowl Ireland out for just 38 in the second innings to claim a remarkable win.
Australia faced off against themselves in their only warm up match. The Hick XII, led by Tim Paine, were victorious over the Haddin XII, skippered by Travis Head. The bowlers dominated once again in the intra-squad match, as just 551 runs were scored across the four innings.
There were some interesting selections in the 17-man squad following the intra-squad match for the Australians, most notably the additions of Matthew Wade as a specialist batsman and bowling all-rounder Michael Neser, who claimed 4/18 in the first innings. Nathan Lyon is the sole spinner selected for the Aussies while Cameron Bancroft got the nod over the likes of Joe Burns and Peter Handscomb for one of the last remaining batting positions.
The English 14-man squad was much more predictable leading into the series and with the exception of the addition of World Cup hero Jason Roy, not much has changed for England. There are still some massive question marks over their top order, which will consist of the inexperienced Roy and youngsters Joe Denly and Rory Burns. However, their middle order and bowlers are as good as any in world cricket.
It’s always tough to predict the winner when these two great rivals go toe to toe, however, England are the heavy favourites at home and there’s good reason for them to be. They have won five of the last eight Ashes series including the last four in a row on home soil.
The Australian batting line-up has been particularly poor in England since 2005, really struggling to corral the influence of the swinging Duke ball and the overcast English conditions. The Australians will once again have almost a completely new look batting line-up to the last team that travelled to England back in 2015. Of the players selected in the Australian 17-man squad who will be competing for a spot in the top six, only Steve Smith and David Warner have experience playing in English conditions, which doesn’t bode well considering the form of England’s current pace attack.
Currently the No.2 ranked Test bowler in the world, James Anderson has some fitness issues ahead of the first Test but will likely play, while Stuart Broad is in some fantastic form after tearing through the Irish in their warm up Test. Add Chris Woakes and the x-factor in Jofra Archer to the equation, and you have a four pronged pace attack that is arguably the best in the world.
As we mentioned above, there are some real questions about the English top order and we think if the Australians are to be competitive, they’ll need to get on top of the likes of Roy, Denly and Burns early in the series.
We also have some concerns over the Australian bowling attack. So often when travelling to the UK, Australian selectors overlook the need for a real swing bowler and we think they might fall into that trap once again. Taking Starc, Cummins and Hazlewood into an Ashes Test in England just doesn’t seem like the right fit. James Pattinson seems the likely replacement for Hazlewood if they want a more experienced swing bowler in the conditions.
With bowling form of the English side at the moment and the conditions that the series will likely offer up, we think there will be a result in every Test, with the English winning either 3-2 or 4-1.
Tough to look past arguably the two best batsmen in the world not named Virat Kohli for the leading runscorer’s of their respective teams. Both Joe Root and Steve Smith were dominant in the last Ashes series in England back in 2015.
Smith led the way for the Aussies with 508 runs from the five Test matches, with the next best being Chris Rogers, who plundered 480 runs. Smith has a fantastic record against England, averaging 56.27 in 23 career Ashes Tests. His last series to England produced a double century at Cardiff and a ton at The Oval and he’ll be looking to replicate the feat this year.
If anyone doubted the run scoring ability of Joe Root before the World Cup, they certainly don’t now. The English No.4 plundered 556 runs at a ridiculous average of 61.77 through the 11 innings including two centuries. The last time he faced Australia on home soil, he amassed 460 runs at an average of 57.5. Hard to believe someone outside of the top four will accrue the most runs for England, and we do have some concerns about the other three in Roy, Denly and Burns.
The wicket taker markets are where you might see a little more value. The quicks start with a massive advantage over the spinners in English conditions so we think it’s almost a certainty that a paceman leads the way for both sides in this series.
We would have usually had no problems announcing Pat Cummins as our tip for the Aussies, however, Mitch Starc’s form and fitness throughout the World Cup campaign was really ominous. While white ball cricket is a completely different kettle of fish, dominating an Ashes series is really the last thing that Mitch Starc has to put on an already glittering resume. If Australia are to be competitive in this series, Starc must swing the ball and must take early wickets, which we think is quite possible with Denly and Burns having never seen him before.
James Anderson’s health is a bit of a concern for the English, and while he’s likely to play the first Test, there are no guarantees that his body will hold up for the whole series. We love the value of Stuart Broad here. Broad has terrorised Australia in the past, particularly on home soil, where he has an impressive average of 26.01.
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