England Cricket Team Analysis
Finally, we’re here. After an incredible World Cup, England swap the (now famous) powder blue kits for the traditional whites in a bid to make this perhaps their greatest ever summer. With an Ashes still to win, they know their job is only half done. They also know that the first Ashes test presents an opportunity to dictate the tone for the rest of the series.
And the home side could hardly ask for a better venue to do so. England has won their last 11 matches at Edgbaston in all formats. While they’ll take heart in the fact Australia usually struggle with the lateral movement of the Dukes ball, they aren’t without issues. Last week’s first innings effort against Ireland at Lord’s (rolled for just 85 on the opening morning) underlined their inefficiencies on tricky decks. Further, an inexperienced top four (including Rory Burns, Jason Roy and Joe Denly who have all played less than ten tests) is front and centre in English minds. Coach Trevor Bayliss even admitted that “you don’t have to be Einstein to work out” that’s their soft spot. But will Australia exploit it?
Recent history suggests England are the prudent choice for series victors, having won the last four on home soil. Current form, however, suggests England’s test side are nothing like the domineering bullies that their ODI side have developed into. They have their flaws, which will be prodded and tested in Birmingham.
Australia Cricket Team Analysis
The upcoming series presents the best opportunity yet for Australia to put the controversies of 2018 behind it and re-establish itself as one of the world’s best test sides. It won’t be easy, however, and a rowdy Edgbaston crowd aren’t eager to make them feel at home in the all-important Ashes. Expect boos, insults and a shed-load of sandpaper jibes – but that’s par for the course these days, no?
While England’s top order troubles were exposed against Ireland last week, Australia has its own. Just one player in the 17-man squad (Steve Smith) has scored a ton on English soil, and their ability to combat the Dukes is the most significant factor standing in the way of breaking an 18-year Ashes drought.
Conversely, their bowling stocks are deeper than they’ve perhaps ever been this century. Few are questioning whether Pat Cummins, James Pattinson, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle can have an impact. They can, and will – it’s just a matter of whether they’ll have a target to bowl at.
Australian fans are cautiously optimistic – and rightly so. But we’ve been here before in recent times; in 2005, 2009 and 2015, fans ranged from the cautiously optimistic to the supremely confident. None of those, however, delivered the elusive away Ashes win. Is this the year?
The Ashes Betting Tips
As always, the pitch plays a considerable part in determining which way punters swing. But thus far, there’s been little given away. Photos on social media depict a straw-coloured centre strip, but that was also the case for the World Cup semi-final, where Chris Woakes and co blew the Aussie top order away. The toss appears one in which neither captain will be unhappy to lose. Overall, these sides seem tough to split, and that is reflected in the markets.
On an individual front, both XIs have one batsman that looms as the key, both in Edgbaston and throughout the series. For England, it’s captain Joe Root, and for Australia, it’s former captain Steve Smith. Root’s record at home is superb, the only blemish on which is the inability to convert half-centuries into triple figures (he has passed 50 on 57 occasions, yet reached 100 *just* 16 times). Smith, on the other hand, is the great unknown heading into the Ashes. Already one of the modern greats, he hasn’t played test cricket for 17 months, and his form is likely to go one of two ways; scratchy, like we saw at times in the World Cup, or utterly dominant.
On a bowling front, Stuart Broad hasn’t hit top form in recent months but invariably lifts in Ashes contests. For the Aussies. Pat Cummins has been Australia’s most consistent wicket-taker for 18 months, and will almost certainly be amongst it yet again in Birmingham.
|Betting Market||Betting Tip|
|Top England Runscorer:||Joe Root|
|Top England Wicket Taker:||Stuart Broad|
|Top Australia Runscorer:||Steve Smith|
|Top Australia Wicket Taker:||Pat Cummins|