One of sport’s greatest rivalries resumes this week with the first Test of the Ashes, the biennial Test cricket series between England and Australia. With both teams tied on 32 wins each over the 135-year history of the series, there’s a lot at stake.
For Australia it represents a thorough examination of their new-look squad, while for England it’ll be the first Ashes under the captaincy of Joe Root. It’s five wins out of seven Tests so far for Root, but an Ashes victory in Australia would surely banish any doubts.
Ahead of the start of the first Test in Brisbane on Thursday, it’s time to see how the top bookies’ odds are shaping up and where punters might be able to find some good value. Read on for an expert betting preview of The Ashes First Test 2017!
Home advantage tends to be a big factor in the Ashes. England have only won two of the last nine series’ down under and suffered a humiliating 5-0 whitewash in the 2013-14 edition. Moreover, the first Test takes place at the Gabba, a stadium renowned for its intimidating atmosphere.
Australia have not lost at the ‘Gabbatoir’ since 1988 while England haven’t won there for over 30 years. That’s why the hosts have been installed as favourites to reclaim the urn, despite England currently being above their rivals in the world rankings, and many experts agreeing they have the stronger squad overall.
On top of that, the tourists’ preparations have not been helped by uncertainty over key man Ben Stokes, who’ll miss at least the first Test due to an ongoing police investigation. With those two factors in mind, Paddy Power backing the Aussies at 4/5 to take the lead in the series.
However, Australia haven’t exactly been without problems in the run-up to the series. First they suffered a big setback when fast bowler James Pattinson was ruled out after re-aggravating a back injury.
Then last week came the announcement of their squad for the first Test, which included a number of surprise selections. Not least Tim Paine as wicketkeeper, a man whose last Test appearance was seven years ago and who hasn’t actually been keeping wicket for his club.
Overall the Australian team sheet doesn’t evoke the same kind of fear that it did in the days of Warne, McGrath, Ponting and co. England are more than capable of beating this side, even without Stokes, so they could represent good value at 3/1 with Betway to triumph in Brisbane.
When it comes to cricket betting, there’s a wide range of markets to choose from beyond just the match result – from when the first wicket will fall and who’ll win the toss, to player performance markets.
And with the 2017-18 Ashes widely expected to be a close-run contest, the performances of a few key players will have a decisive impact on the outcome. Root is certainly one of those for England.
As well as being captain, he’s currently ranked the second-best Test batsman in the world, behind his Australian counterpart Steve Smith. He averages over 50 in Test cricket and is 6/4 with Paddy Power to score a 50 in the first innings at the Gabba, while Betfair have him at odds of 9/1 to be the man of the match.
In the field, England’s attack will, as usual, be led by James Anderson and Stuart Broad. The pair have plenty of experience of Ashes tours down under and even at the ages of 35 and 31 respectively, they remain potential match-winners on their day.
Broad is 2/1 with Betfair to be England’s top wicket taker, with Anderson slightly longer at 9/4. As for Australia, their chances rely heavily on their opening batting partnership of Smith and David Warner.
The duo have scored over 11,000 Test runs between them, and if England can get them out early then they’ll be in a good position. Both are 11/4 with Betway to be the hosts’ top scorers in the first innings and 8/1 to be man of the match. Another key man for the Aussies is bowler Mitchell Starc.
The left-arm pacer is one of the best in the world and goes into the series in great form having taken 17 wickets for his club New South Wales in his last two Sheffield Shield matches. With so many betting markets to pick from, why not place a bet with Betfair today?