It was a humbling start to the 2015 Ashes series for Australia as England dominated the 1st Test match in Cardiff to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series. It was not the start that many of us predicted, but the facts are that England were simply too good.
On a pitch that was “Mitch proofed” the Australian bowlers didn’t have the venom required to trouble the English batsmen. The Aussie attack is an aggressive one, and they leaked too many runs with erratic bowling where a more disciplined, patient approach would have been more effective on the benign wicket.
However it’s with the bat that the Aussies looked the most vulnerable. They need to find a way to make some big scores. The openers picked up a half century each, but the middle order failed to convert. In the first innings, every middle order batsman was out in the thirties which is a criminal act for any batsman. Everyone can get a good ball and get out early, but once you get to 30, you should be set to make a big score.
The worst thing about the loss for Australia is that there was torrential rain in Cardiff on what would’ve been Day 5 of the Test. If they had dug their heels in that second innings and batted through the day, they would’ve most likely escaped with a draw. Damn.
England bowled well, batted well and caught well. They held everything, whereas a crucial dropped catch by Brad Haddin before Joe Root had scored was the changing point of the match. If England were 4-40 in that first innings, who knows what might have happened. Instead Root goes on to make a brilliant hundred and England secured an important first innings lead.
The second Test starts at Lord’s, the home of cricket, on Thursday and it is expected that the wicket will offer a little more life than the one in Cardiff which should suit the Australians, but you would have to think changes will be made to the line up.
Mitchell Starc suffered an ankle injury but got through the 1st Test. Reports are that he is recovering well and expected to play. Pressure is on the aging Brad Haddin to perform. In the last 21 Test innings, Haddin has averaged in the teens with just one fifty to his credit. He’ll need to produce very soon, otherwise Peter Nevill will have a baggy green before the end of the tour.
The only likely change for the 2nd Test will be in the all-rounder spot. Australia did the right thing by picking Shane Watson first up because now they can pick Mitchell Marsh with full confidence and not look back, unlike during the World Cup where they pitched Marsh and were then forced to resort back to Watson. Marsh is at the peak of his powers. His batting is destructive and his bowling is dangerous. He’s a player for the future, and that future is now. Watson was picked for his bowling, yet only mustered up 13 tame overs during the entire Test. Marsh simply must play.
England will most likely take an unchanged line up with contributions across the entire team. Joe Root and Ian Bell look the most dangerous with the bat, and the Aussies must dismiss them cheaply to put pressure on the more inexperienced batsmen. Moeen Ali was impressive with both bat and ball, while the three quicks all played a role. James Anderson’s swing is undeniable; Stuart Broad constantly hits the pitch and asks questions, while Mark Wood offered something different with an injection of speed.
Prediction: It now appears to be a really tough series to call. England have shown they are more than capable of matching it with Australia. They played at a really high level for four days, while Australia were well below their best, which says there may be some upside to the Aussies if they can get it right. Their bowling should be more effective at Lord’s but can they make enough runs? It’s too close to call so we’ll sit this one out.
Series Betting Total: +3.0 units
Despite the Australia loss, it wasn’t all doom and gloom for our bets during the 1st Test with Chris Rogers nailing the Australian leading run scorer for us at healthy odds of $5.50. That also puts us in good shape for him to lead the series and pass his line of 300.5 runs – he’s already one-third of the way there after just one Test.
Adam Voges and Shane Watson failed with the bat, so we’re on track for them on the unders on their lines, while Josh Hazelwood is also off to a solid start with the ball for our leading wicket taker bet with an injury cloud over Mitchell Starc.
We liked the look of Ian Bell in the 2nd innings in Cardiff, and although his recent Test record suggests he is struggling, he does save his best for the fight against the old enemy. His odds look value to lead the 1st Innings for England.
Ian Bell Most Runs England 1st Innings - $5.50 at Sportsbet (2 units)
Michael Clarke will be keen to lead from the front at Lord’s and a couple of sportsbooks are giving us a good price for him to do exactly that.
Michael Clarke Most Runs Australia 1st Innings - $6.00 at William Hill (2 units)
We’ll stick with Josh Hazelwood to lead the bowling for the Aussies. Mitchell Johnson doesn’t have a great record at Lord’s and Mitchell Starc has a few concerns with his ankle. The conditions look prime for Hazelwood to make a big impact here.
Josh Hazelwood Most Wickets Australia 1st Innings - $4.00 at William Hill (3 units)
We’ll also continue to back Nathan Lyon against Moeen Ali. The Aussies tried to force the pace against Ali and came unstuck a few times, so I think they will be more watchful in future. Lyon bowled impressively, including some top order wickets, and looks like having a good series.
Nathan Lyon Most Wickets 1st Innings vs Moeen Ali - $1.72 at William Hill (3 units)
Take note: Any of the tips in this article are simply the author’s opinion, so bet at your own risk and always gamble responsibly. Also be sure to check out the Before You Bet Twitter Page for all our thoughts in the lead up to bets! Happy punting!
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