Australia the odds-on favourites to win the first Ashes Test
After being spoiled with ten Ashes Test matches over the course of 2013 and early 2014, we’ve had to wait until now for one of the world’s fiercest sporting rivalries to resume. The first Ashes Test between England and Australia starts this week in Cardiff with the tourists the odds-on favourites to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
Keep reading for our cricket betting preview.
England looking to get off to good start in Cardiff
A few months ago it looked unlikely that England could even be competitive against Australia this summer but the recent matches against New Zealand have shown that there is a new mentality among the home side.
New coach Trevor Bayliss has told his players to play with freedom and a young squad including five Ashes debutants will head to Sophia Gardens for the opening match. Adil Rashid was perhaps the surprise inclusion in England’s 13-man squad and he, along with Moeen Ali, Jos Buttler, Adam Lyth and Mark Wood will make their Ashes debuts if they are selected.
Stuart Broad looks to have rediscovered some of his better form while James Anderson goes into the series as England’s all-time leading wicket-taker. Add in the recent excellent form of Joe Root and the experience of Alistair Cook and Ian Bell and England could cause the tourists one or two problems in Cardiff. Or, of course, it could all go terribly wrong and they could be dismissed for 150 by tea.
Australia looking to improve on recent record in England
They may be just 2/5 to win the first Test and the favourites to win the series but it’s worth remembering that Australia’s recent record in England is nothing to shout about. The tourists haven’t won the Ashes in this country since 2001 and have won just one of the last ten Ashes Test matches on these shores.
The last time the Aussies played a Test in Cardiff was in 2009 in the drawn opening match, with a huge first innings score of 674/6 enough to force a draw. However, for many people it’s their bowling attack that is to be feared this time, not the batting line-up.
With Ryan Harris having retired, the pace line-up almost picks itself with Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood set to play alongside Nathan Lyon. If the Mitchells can reproduce the form they showed in Australia then they will be fearsome, although Johnson had a poor time of things last time he was in a touring party in England.
The batting line-up looks strong but the openers are inexperienced (despite their ‘Dad’s Army’ tag) while Michael Clarke has only scored over 50 once in a Test in the last 12 months. Steve Smith has developed into one of the world’s best batsmen but a move to number three could backfire if one of the openers is dismissed early and he has to face a swinging new ball.
Australia the cricket betting pick at 2/5
While Australia may boast the more experienced side, it’s worth remembering that none of their squad have ever experienced an Ashes win in England. It’s been 14 years since the tourists last won a series here and while they come in on the back of a 5-0 victory in 2013/14, this is a different prospect altogether.
England have won five of their last eight Test matches and have proved over recent months that they know how to win. However, consistency could be a problem and with a young side there are bound to be setbacks along the way.
While Australia are worthy favourites to win the series, this first match promises to be an intriguing encounter. The weather looks set to be fair which means there will probably be a result, and the tourists can nick a win at 2/5.