The Ashes – England vs. Australia 1st Test betting tips and match preview

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The first Ashes Test this year between England and Australia begins from Wednesday at Cardiff.

Australia might not have won an Ashes series in England since 2001, but this presents them their best chance to change things around. Having relegated England to a 5-0 defeat in the previous Ashes series, Australia have gone from strength to strength under the captaincy of Michael Clarke and coach Darren Lehmann.

The early part of the English summer has already brought some enthralling international contests to the cricket loving public of England, with some classic Test and ODI matches between the home side and the touring Black Caps from New Zealand.

With the start of an Ashes series in Cardiff on Wednesday, the sense of anticipation is even greater than normal. Although the tourists haven’t won a series in England since 2001 when they triumphed by 4-1, they are the holders of the urn following their 5-0 whitewash of their oldest opponents in 2013-14, and will come into the five match contest as the clear favourites to not just retain the Ashes, but also comprehensively win the series.

(Photo by Getty Images)

England’s (16/5 at bet365) drawn series with the Black Caps, was preceded by a three match Test series in the West Indies, where they were beaten in the final match, to leave the series all square at 1-1. They did overcome India in a five match series in England in 2014 by 3-1, although Sri Lanka had beaten them in an early season two match contest by 1-0.

In contrast to England’s inconsistent form, the Australian side thrashed the West Indies by 2-0 before arriving in England.

A comfortable 2-0 win on home soil against India at the turn of the year, was proceeded by their last series defeat, which came in the UAE against Pakistan by 0-2. Earlier in 2014 they had beaten the ICCs top ranked Test playing team, South Africa by 2-1 in the Proteas own grounds.

Australian have already lost Ryan Harris, forced to retire with a knee injury, but they still have a formidable array of fast bowlers, and the world’s No.1 ranked batsman in Steve Smith. With David Warner having vowed he will let his bat do the talking, Australia look to have the arsenal to their opponents. All of which may prove just too much for an England team in the early stages of a rebuilding process.

England will themselves go into the match with mostly the same line-up that was held to a 1-1 draw by New Zealand. The one change that might be in order is the inclusion of leg-spinner Adil Rashid, who could come in for Moeen Ali. Newly-appointed coach Trevor Bayliss could look to stamp his authority by choosing for the more aggressive option in Rashid but it comes with a double-edged sword – what happens if he gets attacked and taken out of the equation early in the series?

As far as this ground is concerned, just two matches have been played here before. One went right down to the wire before a 10th wicket stand saved England and the game ended in a draw. The second had a result which points to it being a result-oriented venue.

England captain Alastair Cook has shown some good form in the New Zealand series and could be a favourite to top-score for England this game. Steven Smith will enter the game with a purple patch dating right back to more than a year. He has hit five centuries in the last six Tests and could be in line for another one here.

Harry James
Harry James' love for sports began in his high school basketball days. Sadly, an injury meant he couldn't further his NBA dreams, but the hooper's loss is our gain as he then found journalism.

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