Ashes First Test Betting Preview : England to pounce on woeful Australia record at Edgbaston
- 1-5 August
- Live on Sky Sports
After the epic World Cup, both in length and drama of England’s win in the final over New Zealand, the Ashes series seems to have come round in a flash, but it all kicks off in Birmingham this Thursday.
It is going to be a sharp change to the longest format of the game for the two sides, but even more so for the tourists who have chosen to play no warm-up matches at all between the World Cup and the Ashes.
Granted, England’s only warm-up Test was the frenetic affair against Ireland at Lord’s which felt more like a limited overs match than anything, but it at least got players in the mindset of the longer format. Lines and lengths were practiced that suit Test matches, possibly some complacency was knocked out of the batting line-up after being bowled out for 85 by the Irish in the first innings. However strange the game was, it was something of a mind and technique sharpener for the hosts that the tourists have not had the benefit of.
England excel and Australia fail at Edgbaston
Considering Australia have not won a Test series in England since 2001, it is a little surprising they have not got in as much match practice as physically possible. Especially ahead of returning to a ground which they truly hate to play at.
Australia’s record at Edgbaston has been appalling in recent years. They have not won a game in any format there since July 2001. That is three Test matches, 10 ODIs and three T20s. In fairness, four of those ODIs were no results, but it is still an astonishingly poor record for such a good team.
There are survivors on both teams from last time the two sides met in a Test in Birmingham, when England comfortably won by eight wickets in 2015. Jimmy Anderson took six first innings wickets, Joe Root and Moeen Ali both struck half centuries, although it was David Warner who high-scored in the match, with 77.
England will be relishing the challenge of getting back to Edgbaston, while the Aussies will be dreading it. They even have bad memories from there as recently as this month (July) when England hammered them by eight wickets in the World Cup semi-final.
This Test series is likely to be quite close. England may have won the last four Ashes on home soil, but their victories have not been as dominant as those the Australians have enjoyed Down Under. The English are rightfully favourites, but expect the tourists to win at least one Test. However, it will not be this one on their least favourite ground in the country. England are odds-on in some places to win this Test, and where they are not, they are superb value.
Woakes can shine on home turf
One man who is likely to have played his way into the England team is Chris Woakes. He had a great World Cup and then produced figures of 6-17 in the second innings against Ireland, which is very difficult for selectors to ignore.
Edgbaston is also his home ground, as a Warwickshire player, so it would seem perfect to bring the man in form into the attack on the pitch he knows best. Such is the likelihood of success for Woakes, that he is ahead of Jofra Archer and Stuart Broad in the betting to be England’s best bowler. However, he remains behind Anderson and looks good value to take more wicket’s than his team-mates.
Warner to wind up the English crowd
As mentioned, David Warner is one of few Aussies who have batted with much aplomb at Edgbaston in recent years. He was also in excellent form in the World Cup, looking somewhere near his devastating best.
After the ball tampering scandal which saw him banned from cricket last year, he will be treated with serious abuse in Birmingham, but he is the kind of character that will relish that and it will spur him on to bigger and better things.
An in-form Warner is an extremely dangerous animal at the top of the order, and looks a strong bet to out-score his team-mates with the bat. Steve Smith is the obvious contender in this market, but he looked nowhere near his best over the World Cup and might just take a couple of games to rediscover his top form in the Ashes. Slightly less adept to deal with the abuse from the crowd and the change in role of the loss of the captaincy.
How’s the weather?
There does look to be some rain around, but not enough to make a result unlikely in Birmingham.
The first three days of the Test look cloudy and overcast, but dry, with the only real worry coming on the Sunday which looks set to suffer quite a few showers. However, it looks set to brighten up again on the Monday for the fifth and final day.
It looks like classic English conditions for much of the test and should suit the home bowlers more than the tourists.
England: Joe Root (c), Moeen Ali, Jimmy Anderson, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes
Australia: Tim Paine (c), Cameron Bancroft, Patrick Cummins, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner
- Australia have not won a game at Edgbaston in any format since 2001
- That is 16 matches at Edgbaston without a win for the Aussies
- England have lost one Test match at Edgbaston since 2002
- James Anderson took 6-47 last time England met Australia in a Test at Birmingham
- David Warner top scored in the match (77) in the last Ashes Test at Edgbaston
- Chris Woakes took 6-17 in his last Test innings
- Australia have lost their last four Ashes series in England
- Australia lead the head-to-head 235-176
- There have been two ties Tests between the teams
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