England and Australia meeting up in the summer at Lord’s. It sounds like an Ashes series but it’s not – however both teams have plenty to prove ahead of this ODI series.
This is Australia's first series since the ball-tampering scandal in March against South Africa that produced reactions of outrage across the world, with Captain Steve Smith and vice-skipper David Warner banned for a year and Cameron Bancroft, who rubbed the ball with sandpaper, given a nine-month ban.
There’s a new coach now in Justin Langer, the former Aussie opener, and a very new look lineup for cricket betting fans to be aware of.
New captain Tim Paine steps up to the plate now, and he leads an experimental Australia line-up. Whilst the batting is obviously changed the bowling attack catches the eye with just 30 caps between the travelling fast bowlers.
Key Amongst them will be the giant Billy Stanlake, who has domestic audiences in the Big Bash and who has also warmed up well, with two good wickets against Surrey at Lord’s in the warmup. Michael Neser could join Kane Richardson and the death-overs specialist Andrew Tye, the most experienced of the quicks with just 15 ODI caps.
Ashton Agar – famous for making 98 in an Ashes series on debut against England – is likely to play a key part in Langer’s bowling plans although even he has only four ODI caps and this will be a test at the deep end for them over the next five weeks.
England are coming into this, now their preferred format, in the worst possible fashion with a first ever defeat to Scotland yesterday. After being sent in, Calum MacLeod's brilliant 140 from 92 balls took Scotland to 371, the highest ODI total ever by an Associate country and the fourth-highest ever conceded by England.
England looked as if they would be able to match that loft target when Johnny Bairstow was at the crease, effortlessly careering to a century in just 54 balls with 12 fours and six sixes – his third in a row, the first time an Englishman has done so in ODI cricket.
However, when he went to long off at 220-2, England suffered a battling collapse which was partly helped along by Alex Hales, who gave Joe Root no chance on 31 before an astonishing wicket to a long hop next whilst he was going well on 52. England went from 220-2 to 276-7, and despite a late chase their defeat was deserved.
The batting collapse continues to bedevil them but what will be perhaps more worrying is that a bowling attack shorn of Ben Stokes has little answer to Scotland’s run fest with just five frontline bowlers.
Conditions at Lord’s should be different to those at The Grange, where there was minimal swing (to be generous) and shortened boundaries on a sunny day to accommodate TV equipment, although the bat could rule the roost once again – a common theme for ODI cricket, and one to keep in mind when considering a series outright betting strategy.
Johnny Bairstow led the charge for England one wonders if they’d have avoided that upset had he made the same amount of runs as McLeod. However, a third straight one day century was a fine achievement and Bet365 have his innings total as 31.5, which makes appeal. His opening figures as an ODI batsman are deeply impressive and read 04-138-19-37-4-44-0-39-60-14-141-39-13-9-100-43-105 – giving us every chance of a return on average. Whilst he’s in such good form, it might be worth backing him to take top batsmen honours.
Whilst we’re also at it, England should have enough with home advantage and more experience to take the series - they took the reverse 4-1 – but the 11/2 on a whitewash does not appeal. There are enough flaws that Australia can exploit to win one test over the series and the 2/1 on a 3-2 win for the home side will have its takers.
Aaron Finch has started the tour in fine form, scoring 78 against Sussex and 54 against Middlesex in the two warmup games, and with Smith and Warner gone he has an opportunity to rubberstamp his name in the line-up. He can top score over the series for the visitors in this case.
Top cricket betting sites also have a player performance market, where players score 1 point per run, 20 points per wicket, 10 points per catch, and 25 points per stumping – and perhaps Tim Paine can beat his mark of 36.5 for the first ODI tomorrow. He’s had troubles with the bat recently but has deadly sharp hands and Ashton Agar could certainly bring stumping into play.