2017-18 Ashes: Australia vs England Test Series Preview

November 20, 2017 by Posted in Cricket Tips

The Ashes’ is not just one of the most celebrated rivalries in world sport, it is also the most anticipated Test series in world cricket. Any other cricket series would be a test of skills, but this is a test of character as well. Ahead of the 2017-18 Ashes, this time down-under, we preview the chances of both sides and what lies ahead. The series opener is at the Gabba from Thursday, November 23rd.

Australia – confused or surprising?
Australia fired the first salvo by choosing Cameron Bancroft and Tim Paine for the first two Tests. Bancroft comes on the weight of heavy runs scored in the Sheffield Shield replacing an out-of-form Matt Renshaw. But, Paine’s selection is a surprise considering he is not even first choice for Tasmania. Will this be an inspired selection or a failed gamble?

These surprises, however, do not mask their batting frailties and over-reliance on David Warner and Steve Smith. Failure of one or both of their premier batsmen will leave their middle order exposed.

Bowling remains Smith’s biggest weapon, provided Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins stay fit. If they do, the Kangaroos will have more than a fair chance of regaining the urn they lost in 2015.

England – methodical or running ragged?
England could have been overwhelming favourites had Ben Stokes been involved in the series. And, as is their wont, England are also grappling with fitness worries even before a ball is bowled.

With or without Stokes, there is enough fragility in this England batting that should make them nervous. Mark Stoneman as the opener, James Vince at number 3 and Dawid Malan at number 5 are selections that could decide their chances. Joe Root and Cook will shoulder the burden of runs.

James Anderson and Stuart Broad’s success will depend on can they work out the Kookaburra ball could decide the destination of the urn. Jake Ball looms to be the third seamer and will be vital with his ability to extract bounce.

Key stats and challenges
England have won four of the last five series although they were whitewashed 5-0 last time when they toured Australia in 2013-14.
Since April 2016, England have a 10-9 win-loss record while Australia’s record stands at 6-8. However, England’s away record stands at 1-5 while the Aussies have a 4-2 record at home.

Both sides are prone to batting collapses and while Australia’s top-order has fared better than their counterparts in the last 18 months (43.46 compared to 33.93), England’s lower-order bailed them out with a substantially higher average (39.29 compared to 20.98).
England’s inability to move the Kookaburra ball is a challenge as the visitors are not incisive on tracks that offer no lateral movement. For Australia, keeping their bowlers fit is a challenge.

The hosts start as favourites and much of it has to do with Stokes’ absence. Regardless of the sentiment among bettors, it would be a surprise if England roll over easily. Australia are tipped to win at odds of $1.40 (William Hill) while England are backed at odds of $4.33 (William Hill).

Don’t be surprised if the series is closer-than-anticipated. A 3-2 Australian margin comes at odds of $8 (William Hill) while the same for England comes at odds of $17 (bet365). Back the Aussies.

TIP: Australia to win 3-2 – $8 at William Hill



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