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Ashes Series First Test: Cash in On Cricket's Oldest Rivalry
England Australia Ashes Betting
As we approach the first test of the Ashes, the most decorated and anticipated cricketing contest of them all, we find ourselves looking at Australia, and only Australia, when we are considering the potential winner. When the home side walks out on the first day of the first test in Brisbane, the players, the crowd, the millions watching on television are all thinking the same thing...
How much will the Aussies win by?
Thankfully, this isn't one of those bets that has an opportunity to go wrong. History, playing conditions, form, key outs and home ground advantage all play into the hands of the Australians leading into this match. While the odds indicate that England may do better than many expect, in our opinion there will be only one winner.
The head-to-head line is the most simple method of betting on the first test, and below we outline the odds on offer from Bet365.com. There are also plenty of other markets available for punters looking for an opportunity to test their knowledge - following our analysis of the match result we preview some of the other enticing lines, including the top batsman and top bowler categories.
Why Australia Will Win The First Test
Australia are an absolute steal at -138 here. In all honesty, England's only chance of a positive result here is if rain hits the 'Gabba, and with a clear forecast for the five days it looks like only a miracle will prevent an Australian victory. Don't be scared off by the fact that Australia are paying -138, jump on today and watch one of the easiest wins of your betting career.
The 'Gabba is Historically a Fortress
Let's start with history. Australia have not lost a test match at the 'Gabba since the great West Indian team of the 80's did so in 1988. Their record since that match stands at 21 wins and 7 drawn tests. In total, Australia have only lost eight test matches at the ground since 1931; their win/loss ratio of 37:8 is one of the highest by any team at a particular ground in world cricket.
Against England, their record stands at 11 wins from 20 matches with just four defeats, the most recent of which came way back in 1986. Even the 2010/11 English side that managed to win the Ashes series on Australian soil for the first time since 1986 failed to win in Brisbane.
Ben Stokes' Absence is a Knockout Blow
In 2005, the English side finally reclaimed the Ashes after nearly 20 years in one of the most famous Ashes battles of all time. Arguably the biggest contributor to their series win was Andrew Flintoff, and twelve years later it is another allrounder that holds the key to England having any success down under.
Unfortunately for the travelling side, Stokes' well-publicised assault has him in trouble with the law and he is guaranteed to miss at least the first test in Brisbane. While it has been reported that the team are not focussing on events they cannot control, there's no secret that the English team look a man short of a test cricket side without Ben Stokes in their lineup. We don't think they can win without him.
Australia's Pace Attack is Second to None
The home side boasts three tall seam bowlers, two of which consistently bowl in excess of 145 km/h and a third that is prodigious with his line and length. Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood will be a nightmare for the English batsman on the fast 'Gabba wicket, and Nathan Lyon's knack of breaking partnerships and picking up crucial scalps will also be a factor. They are simply more likely than their opponents to get the twenty wickets necessary to win the match.
Steve Smith is the Best in the World
Australia boast the world's best batsman in captain Steve Smith, and even an average performance from the skipper should be enough to see his side taste victory in Brisbane. Smith's career average of just under 60 is a phenomenal statistic on its own, and when you note that he averages 68.65 in Australia there's no doubting who England will need to get out cheaply if they are any chance here.
England's Slim Hopes Rely on Root and Bairstow
England's chances will rely heavily on captain Joe Root, who is up there with Smith, India's Virat Kohli and New Zealand's Kane Williamson in terms of prodigious batting ability.
Root is just nine runs short of recording 1000 scored against the Australians and has scored three centuries against them, however his average of just over 41 against them is his second-worst against test-playing nations. It's crucial that he steps up a gear in this series, although he will be heavily targeted by the home side.
Johnny Bairstow is also in form as we approach the Australian summer. In 2016 he scored 1470 runs, smashing the record for most runs in a calendar year by a wicketkeeper, and also broke the record for the number of dismissals with 70 recorded. He has recently risen to sixth on the ICC test batting rankings. If he can continue this form the English may cause the Australians some problems.
Pick Australia To Win The First Test (-138) Bet365
Top Batsman Picks
It's unsurprising to see two of Australia's most dynamic and experienced players at the top of the list of favourites for this market. David Warner is looking hungry for runs and appears to be more inclined to stick around and notch up a big score, which of course is crucial to this market. He has a career best of 163 at the 'Gabba, with three hundreds from six matches.
Steve Smith has a similar ratio of test hundreds in Brisbane - two from four matches - however his highest score at the venue is 133. You wouldn't back against the captain to top this though! Out of the pair, you'd have to pick David Warner, who also has the advantage of playing at the top of the order, meaning that if Australia win comfortably he is more likely to have a second bat then Smith who might not be required in the second innings.
Out of the Englishman, the only man who stands out is Joe Root, who will require a captain's knock of epic proportions (and someone to stick around with him) if he is to come out as top scorer. His one and only match at the 'Gabba yielded just 28 runs, and his average of 27.42 in Australia does not fill us with confidence. Despite his career average being in excess of 50, we don't rate his chances at +550.
There are a few tempting outsiders on the list, and our first pick is probably going to be controversial. Shaun Marsh has been in and out of the Australian team more times than he'd care to tell you, with a combination of injury and form the reason.
However, his performances in the lead-up indicate he's in top form - he scored a gritty 91 runs for Western Australia against a New South Wales side containing all four of Australia's test bowlers. He could be a good outsider at odds of +1200.
Top Bowler Picks
This is a difficult line to pick. All of Australia's frontline bowlers are in with a good chance, and the order in which they appear above is reflective of who took the wickets in their most recent shield match - Mitchell Starc took 7, Josh Hazlewood 6 and Pat Cummins 4. Out of the three it's probably going to be one of the first two, and you could certainly do worse than pick Hazlewood due to the fact he's the least likely to go down injured (a big problem for Australia's quicker bowlers).
Alternatively, if you think that England are a chance you would have to go with James Anderson, who is ranked the number one bowler in test cricket at present.
He is rated ahead of teammate Stuart Broad, who could also be a consideration, but considering the likely result of the test we wouldn't advise picking either in this market - the winner will surely be someone on the winning side.
Former Australian spin bowler Shane Warne rates the 'Gabba as one of his favourite grounds to bowl on due to the extra bounce and the tendency for turn on the fifth day.
With rain around Brisbane leading up to the match, the pitch is expected to be more seamer-friendly, and for that reason we're discounting the spin bowling of Nathan Lyon, even though he is an expert at taking advantage of a bouncy wicket.
There is a fantastic range of betting lines available through bet365.com for this test match - far too many to list. Make sure you check out their website and explore the different options, and don't forget to join the conversation on Facebook to let us know how you plan to bet on the match.
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