In what seems a blink of the eyelids since the Cricket World Cup – the sport gets back on the centre stage at Edbgaston on Thursday with the start of the 71st Ashes series. England are looking to reclaim the urn after surrendering it 18 months ago in Australia.
First things first – and if I don’t blow my own trumpet who will? – but in my very first blog for Star CLICK HERE I recommended a double on England winning both the World Cup and Ashes at 11/2 – so we are halfway to collecting on that project.
As far as I am concerned the World Cup slate is now wiped clean for The Ashes. Whilst England have momentum from their victory this is, to coin a phrase, a whole new ball game and both sides are pretty evenly matched.
starsports.bet make England marginal favourites at 19/20 which builds in home advantage and World Cup form but it’s not a price I would get involved in now – well I would say that, holding an 11/2 voucher !!!
My outright bets would be for England to win the series 4-1 and 3-1 at 9/1 and 7/1 respectively. If their shot selection is as bad as it was against Ireland then it’s hard to see the Aussies not getting one win chalked up. Steve Smith (pictured) is a solid 13/8 chance to be top Aussie run scorer and even at that price it’s hard to look beyond him.
For me, the strength in both sides is in the bowling with the frailty in the batting department. We saw England’s batting ruthlessly exposed at Lord’s a week ago when they were bowled out for just 85 against Ireland. Being too gung-ho is always a potential problem for the batsmen especially with adrenalin running through the veins at the start of an Ashes series on the back of a World Cup win.
The hosts will be looking to get off to a strong start here though at a ground they traditionally play well at.
I’m not sure it will go the distance (if you’ve got a ticket for day five, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news!!). The pitches will generally suit the bowlers.
starsports.bet have plenty of specials on the first Test including when will it finish? I’ll have a little interest on both day 4 session 1 (16/1) and day 4 session 2 (10/1).
In terms of Thursday’s opener the big news today was Jofra Archer has been left out of the squad.
England XI: Rory Burns, Jason Roy, Joe Root, Joe Denly, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, James Anderson
(Australia captain Tim Paine says Australia’s XI will be named at the toss.)
Chris Woakes is in and can continue his World Cup form that saw him take three wickets against the Aussies in the semi-final. At 100/30 with starsports.bet he makes appeal to be England’s top wicket taker in the 1st Test.
Ben Stokes at 11/2 looks a decent price to be top batsman. His World Cup catch to dismiss Andile Phehlukwayo quite rightly grabbed the (front page) headlines but he put in sterling shifts with the pads too – notably of course his two sixes in the Final final over to tie the game.
RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)
BACK ENGLAND TO WIN SERIES 4-1 2 points at 9/1 with starsports.bet
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BACK STEVE SMITH TO BE TOP AUSTRALIA RUN SCORER 8 points at 13/8 with starsports.bet
BACK DAY 4 SESSION 1 ON WHEN WILL IT FINISH? 1 point at 16/1 with starsports.bet
BACK DAY 4 SESSION 2 ON WHEN WILL IT FINISH? 1 point at 10/1 with starsports.bet
BACK CHRIS WOAKES TOP ENGLAND WICKET TAKER 3 points at 100/30 with starsports.bet
BACK BEN STOKES TOP ENGLAND RUN SCORER 3 points at 11/2 with starsports.bet
PROFIT/LOSS SINCE JAN 1 2017: PROFIT 174.42 points
(excluding Ryan Sidebottom Ashes bet and Goodwood day two preview)