England v Australia Ashes Betting

October 31, 2010 | In: Articles

England’s cricketers have left the shores of home to head down under in the defence of the Ashes. Once more will the old enemies go into battle for cricket’s most prestigious prize. Naturally the banter between the two rivals is something which always gives fans that extra sense of expectation and pride in their home country, and with the Aussies defacing the side of Big Ben, the fuses are being lit. Seeing the face of Ricky Ponting on one of England’s most famous landmarks, taunting Strauss and co to not forget to the pack the urn, may have raised a smile as publicity stunt, but the Aussie camp may get slapped on the wrist if the Westminster council decides to press charges against the illegal act. It feels like the beginning of something special, and whenever England and Australia come together for the Ashes, it generally doesn’t fail to produce something extraordinary. This is the pinnacle of English cricket, as a player and a supporter, these are the specials matches that can go down in history. Remembering history from the last time England were in Australia to contest the Ashes, won’t bring back too many fond memories, as they were hopelessly outplayed, outclassed and were sent back home with their tails between their legs after a 5-0 thrashing. That whitewash will still be tasting bitter as England walk into the hostile Aussie territories, to try and defend what they won back in the summer.

Andrew Strauss led England to a 2009 summer Ashes victory over the Aussies on home turf, but things are much more difficult in the conditions down under. Still, England are rightly confident after enjoying a busy, yet successful year at the crease and in the field. Captain Andrew Strauss is relishing the chance, relishing the pressure to deliver a big slice of humble pie to the Aussies. England have looked a fairly settled squad throughout the year, and yes, Kevin Pietersen is back in the fold. England’s most enigmatic and prodigious batsman was dropped in the summer. But he has gone away to try and work on his game, and there was never really any doubt that he would be in the Ashes squad. His experience and talent is greatly needed. He has been playing with Kwazulu Natal in South Africa to try and rediscover some form, after not making a century since last year at the top level. Naturally the Aussies are targeting Petersen (who is 4/1 at Ladbrokes to be England’s Top Batsman) as one of the weakest links in the England side, as the man who has all too often been the hero with the bat, is not looking his brilliant old self this year. But he is in the squad, and looking to piece things back together. The thing about international cricket at the moment, is that there really is no dominant team, and there is sort of an even keel about everything. It is star players with natural talent, like Kevin Pietersen, who really could swing a tight series.

The Aussies do have some advantages. Firstly of course, they will be in their own back yard, playing under their own conditions. That is a huge boon when it comes to cricket. The Australian cricket team have always been something of a powerhouse at home, and there is always a lot of expectancy from the home crowd. It is notoriously difficult to go there and pick up victories, simply because Australia play their own conditions perfectly. They know how to get the best out of the pitches, and it is a formidable task trying to break them down. However, there are chinks in the Aussie armour, which England coach Andy Flower will no doubt have noticed and will be targeting. For starters, when it comes to spin bowling, England should have a massive upper hand. They have Graeme Swann (who is 11/8 favourite at Stan James to be England’s Top Bowler) in their ranks, who is one of the best in the world. For the Aussies though it is a bit of a different story. The main question surrounding the Australian spin bowling, is how do you replace Shane Warne? How? Nathan Hauritz has pretty much taken over the task of trying to fill in the footsteps of the legendary Warne, but clearly he hasn’t come anywhere near to being the bright shiny new hope of Australian spin bowling. In fact, you can take a look at the Australian bowling as a whole and pick holes in it. It has been severely disrupted over the last year or so, and there seems to be some confusion as to what the best attacking line up is.

Secondly, the Aussies have lost their last three Test matches (including a 2-0 series defeat against India), and are ranked fifth in the world at the moment. That is one place lower than England! That is the first time ever that England have gone into an Ashes side as a team ranked higher in the world than the Aussies. Not since 1979 has England had successive success in Ashes series, so Strauss could be set to put himself in the history books. Meanwhile opposition captain Ricky Ponting is starting to come under some serious fire from critics, and although he always performs in the Ashes, he will have some extra burden on his shoulders this time around, and how much will his confidence be dented already? So, even though England may look to have the edge on paper, with only three test match wins of the last 26 played on Australian soil, you can clearly see the uphill struggle that England have. Australia are a proud nation, and even though in many respects this is something of a new era of Australian cricket, you can expect them to be hungry, fired up and ready to tear into England. After losing their last three Test Matches, you would expect them to be very angry at themselves, and should be something of a wounded beast. That is something which England have to be aware of.

England do have a lot going for them though, including a good record this year, and the leadership of coach Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss. There is a more business like feel about England, and in the Australian conditions, they need to be ruthless and aggressive. With the ball in hand, there will be a lot of responsibility on Stuart Broad (4/1 at Victor Chandler to be England’s Top Bowler) to deliver that, and the experience of James Anderson will be vital (if he is fit),a long with spinner Graeme Swann. Monty Panesar has also made the squad to some surprise. Chris Tremlett and Tim Bresnan will likely contest a place in the side, as Steven Finn from Middlesex, who has pretty much been fast tracked into the senior squad should get the nod ahead of them. Finn (who has actually been compared to Aussie Glenn McGrath) has displayed some excellent consistency with the ball, and England need that extra level of quality of consistency, when facing up against the Aussies on the flat batting pitches. Finn (who is 5/1 at SkyBet to be England’s Top Bowler) is not the quickest in terms of blistering place, but he gets the ball in the right place time and time again, and could be a huge factor in any England success. Behind the stumps there is some good competition between the established Matt Prior, and the exciting Steven Davies who had a good year with the senior side. With the bat, there looks to be a lot of solidity, with the likes of Strauss (who is 7/2 favourite at Totesport to be England Top Batsman), Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood, Eoin Morgan and Jonathan Trott in the line up. Add to that Kevin Pietersen and opener Alastair Cook, who really needs a first class tour, England look OK there. But as the Aussie batsmen often look superlative on their own tracks, the pressure will be on the bowlers to unsettle and take huge initiative.

England Ashes Squad
James Anderson, Ian Bell, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Alastair Cook, Steven Davies, Steven Finn, Eoin Morgan, Monty Panesar, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Andrew Strauss (captain), Graeme Swann, Chris Tremlett, Jonathan Trott

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