Following a highly contentious summer Ashes series where old enemies England and Australia bickered over DRS, the spirit of cricket and everything in between the two sides go head to head in the return series starting this Wednesday. The mind games have already begun, with Australian skipper Michael Clarke making like Jose Mourinho during a recent press conference and naming the eleven players that he thinks will take the field for the visitors at the Gabba next week. His counterpart Alistair Cook has come in for criticism over his captaincy style since the conclusion of the summer series, most notably from Aussie leg-spinning great Shane Warne, but after a record breaking tour with the bat in 2010/11 the opening batsman will be confident that his team can retain the little urn having won 3-0 in familiar conditions just a few months ago. As ever when these two countries lock horns tension runs high and the competitive juices flow and if you fancy a flutter on the Aussies avenging last summers defeat or Cooks men conquering the ancestral convicts then look no further than this comprehensive Ashes betting guide.
With the willow in hand Australia have struggled mightily since the retirements of Ricky Ponting an Michael Husssey, though Clarke remains a world class presence in the middle order. He’s 5/2 to lead the hosts run charts with a number of bookmakers, including Coral and Bet Victor. The rest of the Australian squad should enjoy more success at home than they did over the summer, with the in-form David Warner a solid outside bet at 5/1 with Bet Fred and others.
Similarly to the Aussies England’s best batsman, at least statistically, is their captain Alistair Cook. However the controversial Kevin Pietersen always fares well against England’s great rivals, and at 7/2 with Bet Victor he represents good value in the leading English batsman market. Other options include Ian Bell, who had a magnificent home series, and Jonathan Trott who didn’t quite fare so well. Although Bell would appear to be in better form that Trott the latter had a sensational trip in 2010/11 and generally scores well on fast, bouncy wickets like the ones he’s likely to see down under. Bet Victor are again offering the best odds of 9/2 on the South African-born batsman leading the way for England.
In the bowling department Australia’s Ryan Harris led the way during the summer, but his inability to stay fit for five tests is a major concern and it’s unlikely he’ll last the duration this winter. Peter Siddle is more durable and can be dangerous in bursts, such as his opening day hat-trick in the first test three years ago. There hasn’t been a more consistent Australian bowler than Siddle since the likes of Glenn McGrath, and you can get on him at 3/1 with Bet Victor.
For England Jimmy Anderson remains the leader of the attack, and with good reason as he approaches Ian Botham’s record wicket taking haul for the poms. He’s 9/4 with Sporting Bet to once again fly the flag for Queen and country, dismissing a bucket-load of Aussies in the process. Graeme Swann is the other mainstay of the England attack and although he has suffered elbow discomfort in recent years he should make it through all five tests and if he does at 4/1 (Stan James) he should run the “Burnley Express” close.So far as the overall result is concerned England will enter the series as strong favourites having won three Ashes in a row and four of the last five (the less said about 2006/7 the better). Yet Australia are confident, with good reason, that they can end that streak on home turf during these five games. With doubts over the fitness of Pietersen and especially wicket keeper Matt Prior England aren’t in as good shape as they might have wanted heading into the opening test, and a fast start by the hosts could give them the confidence they need to press home the advantage over the course of the series. I’m plumping for an Australia series win (7/4, Stan James), but it would by no means shock me if England managed to regain the urn and they’re 23/20 at Boyle Sports to bring the famous trophy back with them in January. Prediction: Australia 2-1 (12/1, Stan James)
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