Explore Sports.net’s cricket betting tips to see which team you should back and the factors that could determine the winner.
Can England Build On World Cup Win?
England have already ticked off one of their main targets for 2019, having won the 50-over World Cup for the first time in their history, in the most extraordinary of circumstances. The final against New Zealand finished as a tie, and so did the subsequent Super Over, but England lifted the trophy after scoring more boundaries than their opponents. Cricket fans around the world erupted in celebration of a match that was instantly labelled the greatest of all time, with players and pundits alike saying it was the perfect platform to take the game forward.
England hammered Australia in the semi-finals to set up their chance for World Cup glory, striking an early psychological blow ahead of the Ashes. However, both teams have already had to move on from the white ball to the red, with limited-overs specialists jettisoned for crafty Test-match campaigners. With a different format taking centre stage, the early signs are that ball will dominate bat for the next few weeks.
How The Teams Have Warmed Up
Barely a week after their World Cup win, England returned to action in the Test arena and took part in another remarkable game, this time against Ireland. They ended up with a convincing 143-run victory, but the manner in which they were skittled out for just 85 in their first innings will have set alarm bells ringing and no doubt had Australia’s pace attack salivating. More pleasing was the way England bounced back and dismissed Ireland for just 38 in the second innings.
While England were battling it out against Ireland, Australia were tearing chunks out of each other in a practice match that had been arranged between all the touring players in contention for a place in the final Ashes squad. In a very low-scoring affair similar to England’s clash with Ireland, hardly any of the batsmen emerged with credit and it was the bowlers who flourished.
Stronger With Ball Than Bat
Both teams look stronger in the bowling department than with the bat, and England have elected to use the 2018 Dukes ball for the series after deciding that it gave them even more assistance last year. With all that in mind, it could be a torrid time for the batsmen of both teams.
For England, record wicket-taker Jimmy Anderson will be the main threat, having overcome an injury scare in time to be picked for the first Test. He is likely to be backed up by fellow veteran Stuart Broad, with World Cup sensation Jofra Archer in line for a Test debut and set to offer a new dimension to the attack with his pace and hostility. With Chris Woakes and Sam Curran also in the wings, England have a seam attack that will be hard to combat.
Unfortunately, so do Australia. Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood are a formidable trio, while James Pattinson has been bowling exceptionally well in recent months and Peter Siddle offers experienced back-up.
In terms of the spinners, Nathan Lyon is a superior bowler to England counterpart Moeen Ali but does not have his batting capabilities. The wickets aren’t expected to help the spinners too much anyway so, as it is hard to say which set of pace bowlers is the best, the series could hinge on whether either batting order can click into gear.
Australia have been boosted by the returns of David Warner and Steven Smith from their international suspensions after the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa. They are a world-class double act who may thrive in adversity if England fans start to heckle them, and if both players find their best form it could well be enough to decide The Ashes.
They will still have to contend with tricky conditions and skilful opponents, though, and there are major doubts about the rest of Australia’s batters. Cameron Bancroft, the third player back from a ban after ‘sandpaper-gate’, is still relatively unproven at Test level, while there are still questions marks over the likes of Usman Khawaja, Travis Head and Marcus Harris. Wicket-keeper Tim Paine, thrust into the role of captain after Smith’s removal, will also be under huge pressure.
England arguably have even fewer top-class batsmen in their ranks. There is no doubting Joe Root’s pedigree in Tests, but Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler and new boy Jason Roy are all far more comfortable facing the white ball than the red. Their defensive techniques will be scrutinised like never before. The make-up of the top order is anything but set in stone, and it would be a surprise if England’s opening pair – whoever that may be - consistently get off to good starts.
Ben Stokes, fresh from his World Cup heroics, will be pivotal at No.6, and will feel he owes the team after missing the 2016/17 Ashes in Australia following his arrest after a street brawl. That series down under finished 4-0 to Australia, but it promises to be much closer this time around.
Ashes Betting Tips
England go into the series as marginal favourites at around 9/10. Those odds don’t offer the excitement of a huge return, unless you bet heavily, but history suggests it may actually be a decent price. England have won the last four editions of the Ashes they have played at home, dating back to the famous 2005 series, and have not lost a series to anyone at home in five years.
England also have a phenomenal recent record at Edgbaston – the scene of the first Test – having won ten straight matches across all formats at the Birmingham ground. Australia, by contrast, haven’t won a Test at Edgbaston since 2001, and will need to upset the form book to avoid falling immediately behind.
The tourists are 137/100 to win The Ashes, which may well be worth a flutter with so little to choose between the teams. An even more attractive price can be found on the series finishing as a draw, with odds of 13/2. A series between these sides has not finished level since 1972, but they have rarely looked so evenly matched in recent years.
While it is hard to imagine that many of the five matches will go all the way to the last day, let alone the final session, there is a good chance that the British weather will disrupt one of the games and leave only four to be settled. If it is 2-2, Australia will retain the Ashes and deny England from achieving their second key target for the summer.