James Vince impresses in Big Bash stint

There was another impressive looking knock from the much maligned – in England anyway – James Vince, as he set his Big Bash team, Sydney Thunder, up for another win, with 40 runs from 29 balls.

Vince – who joined up with Sydney Thunder after the Ashes – opened the innings with Aussie Usman Khawaja, and the two of them all but finished the match as a contest, by putting on 85 for the 1st wicket, from just 8.2 Overs. Vince batted on into the 11th Over, and when he eventually went for an excellent 40, his team were 102/2, needing just 46 from just over 9 Overs.

Sydney Thunder are 12/1 to win the Big Bash with Paddy Power – latest Big Bash Odds From Paddy Power Here

Vince has 74 runs at a strike rate of 137.03 from his two matches for the Sydney Thunder so far, not world beating, granted. But given all the criticism he received during the recent Ashes, that isn’t a bad start for an opener, and it also gives England another white ball option.

James Vince Picture

James Vince

Also, it’s the manner in which Vince has played his 2 matches so far that has also been impressive. Like in Test cricket, he has made it look effortless, and like in Test cricket, he has got out in the 30’s, and for 40.

The difference being though, that 34 and 40 in T20, is a decent score, especially at a strike rate of over 137.

There is still a long way to go for Vince, but his Big Bash experience can’t do anything but help his development, and also – hopefully – build his confidence. These small steps could well be crucial ones if they are to have the desired effect of helping him develop into the top class cricketer his talent suggests he should be.

England on the Ropes with WACA Knockout Imminent

If the 2017/2018 Ashes were a boxing match, England would be reeling under the constant barrage of punches thrown by Australia. It is a fight that has been witnessed before and often leads to a knockout blow when the sides arrive in Perth for the third test. Historically, when England get off to a bad start Down Under, the WACA is the venue where the guillotine falls and the Ashes are surrendered.

2 10 Joe Root

The prospect of trying to revive the series at the WACA will be a daunting one for England as their last victory at this ground was back in 1978. Much of the pre-Ashes game plan for England would have been to come out the traps flying so there was an insurance policy in place by the time the Perth test arrived, given their woeful history at the venue. The opposite has happened and Steve Smith’s men will feel they have England well positioned for a checkmate move.

As is so often the case during the playing of the Ashes Down Under, the pace of the Australian quicks proves to be the defining factor. So far, the Australian pace bowlers have accounted for 28 of the 40 English wickets to have fallen. Mitchell Starc leads the Ashes wicket-taking column with 14 and fellow fast bowlers Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins have seven apiece. The surprise package has been Nathan Lyon with his off-spin, which has been highly effective especially against the English left-handers.

The rampant Lyon is only three wickets behind Starc and has 11 to his name. The way in which he has worked in tandem with the quicks has been the underlying key to Australia’s dominant position they find themselves in. If England want to throw a few counterpunches, Lyon will need to be tamed.

They will need to be aggressive towards him and not let him settle when he comes on to bowl at the WACA. This way Smith won’t have the luxury of rotating his fast bowlers at will. The more work the quicks have to do the less effective they will be and this will be highlighted at the WACA given the blistering outfield. The Three Lions will be able to use the threat of the Australian pace attack against if they adopt a positive approach with the willow in hand.

Mitchell Starc won’t be fearing an English onslaught and instead will be hoping for a traditional fast and bouncy wicket when he takes the new ball at the WACA. He has 14 scalps to his name so far this series and that will be a lot closer to 25 come the end of the Perth test. The tall left-armer from Sydney is relishing the responsibility that comes with being the Australian frontline seamer. It is no surprise to see him backed at odds of 4/6 to be the leading wicket-taker at the end of the five-match series and punters who feel Starc will carry on and finish on top of the pile can access up to £50 of free bets from Ladbrokes on Oddschecker. England need to deal with the Starc threat by being bold before he leaves scars that won’t heal with time.

Scoring quickly will transfer the pressure and will act as a minor power shift as England try to get themselves back into a place where they are the ones able to deal out the body blows. It is at times like this, with England under the pump, that one wonders how valuable Ben Stokes contribution would have been in a counter-attacking strategy that seems the Three Lions best chance of survival in the series.

GONE!  Got Him!  Middle stump goes flying

Everyone connected to the England cricket team will be wondering how a left-arm quick is dismantling their team again. When Mitchell Johnson retired, there was a sigh of relief after the demolition job he did in 2013 but now it appears Starc is picking up where his counterpart left off.

England’s record in Australia since 2013 doesn’t make for encouraging reading. They have lost their last seven tests in a row and in 14 innings only managed to pass 300 on three occasions. They will need to apply themselves and fight bravely if their Ashes ambitions aren’t to be lying on the canvas after the Perth test.

Harsh lessons for attack minded England captain Root

When England appointed Joe Root as the new Test captain back in February, there were few pundits and fans who argued with the decision. After all, who else was there? And Root was England’s talisman and best player. Root was the England management’s only real viable choice.

Fast forward a few months, and Root is finding out the hard way that the decisions you take as a captain can have consequences, and as former captains like Nasser Hussain can testify, the decisions you take can be used as a big stick to beat you with when things start going wrong, and the media turns on you.

Root has already – by his own admission – made a huge mistake in the 1st Test of the current Ashes series, when he took Jimmy Anderson off after bowling just 3 Overs with the second new ball in the 1st innings when he had the Aussies 7 wickets down, and still over 80 runs behind England’s 1st innings total.

Fair enough, Root held his hands up to that one and admitted his mistake. Moving onto the 2nd Test, and another dodgy looking decision from Root, who after winning the toss (again), this time rather surprisingly asked the Aussies to bat first – click here for bookmakers offering the latest odds on the Ashes.

I’d not heard one ex player or pundit who said pre match that it would be a good idea to bowl first on the pitch, quite the opposite in fact. The likes of Michael Vaughan were quick to point out that as it was a drop in wicket, it was a trip into the unknown. No one had any real idea of how the wicket would behave, and Vaughan commented that you wouldn’t want to be batting on it 4th – exactly what England will now have to do after deciding to bowl first.

Quite a risky strategy when the series was arguably in the balance. It is obvious if England lose in Adelaide, it will be near on impossible to come back from 2-0 down, especially with Perth to come next. So why take such a risk at such a critical juncture of the series?

Root has previous in his short tenure as captain for being a touch cavalier. The 2nd Test against West Indies at Headingley back in August was one such occasion. Root’s England side were 1-0 up in the best of 3 series, and had just wrestled back control of the Test match (and with it the series) thanks to a swashbuckling 84 from Moeen Ali, ably assisted by Chris Woakes, who ended on 61 not out.

Out of nowhere Root declared the England innings on 490/8 towards the end of Day 4. West Indies seen off the remaining 6 Overs on Day 4, and with a full day’s play on Day 5 still remaining, there was ample time for the Windies to get the runs. Root had underestimated (and arguably disrespected) the Windies batting by setting them a modest target of 322 from 96 Overs.

The Windies duly knocked them off for a comfortable 5 wicket victory, putting a series win in doubt for England, especially given the English weather last summer. Root put himself in the position of been a few days worth or rain away from drawing a home series 1-1 with West Indies. Which wouldn’t have looked too clever on his CV.

Root has shown that he is prepared to improvise as a captain, and not always follow the well trodden conventional methods. I’m sure he will be a successful England captain in the long run, and these experiences will only serve to help him improve in the future.

Joe Root Ashes Top Runscorer Odds

England captain Joe Root found himself back in the runs in England’s last warm up match, scoring 83 in the drawn match against a Cricket Australia XI.

Ahead of the 1st Test starting in Brisbane this Thursday, Root is expected to be England’s top run scorer, and this is backed up in the latest Ashes Betting.

In Ashes Top Run Scorer Betting, Root is third favourite, behind Australia’s Steven Smith and David Warner, while in Top England Batting, Root is unsurprisingly the favourite.

To be top overall series run scorer (both sides included in this market), Root is a best price of 5/1 with William Hill, with Smith at 11/4 and Warner at 3/1.

To be Top England Run Scorer, Root is a lot shorter at 7/4 with Betfair, in what is being deemed a two horse race by the bookmakers. Alastair Cook comes next st 11/4, and after that you can take your pick.

Jonny Bairstow is 6/1, Mark Stoneman is 7/1, Vince is at 10/1, with Dawid Malan at a decent value (in my view) looking 12/1. After that comes Moeen, who is 20/1.

In Ashes Spread Betting, Root’s runs are available to Sell at 430, and Buy at 450 with leading spread betting firm Sporting Index.

Is it the right call to bring Alex Hales back for Ashes tour?

The name of Alex Hales has been mentioned and strongly linked to a place in the upcoming Ashes squad announcement, and his innings on Saturday in the T20 against West Indies, was a timely reminder for the selectors of just what he is capable off.

Hales was by far the most impressive of the England batsmen, top scoring with 43 runs in England’s 21 run defeat, and not only was he England’s best batsman, he was the only English batsman who was able to handle the conditions.

Yes, this was only a T20 fixture, not an Ashes Test match, I get that, but the point is just how comfortable Hales now looks at international level, so why can’t he take that into red ball cricket?

When Hales was last in the England Test team, he was still finding his way in international cricket, and he wasn’t too assured in any format.

Now he has the presence of a man who knows he belongs at international level, and his white ball form has shown that over the last 12 to 18 months, where alongside Joe Root, he has been England’s best batsman.

I believe the time is right for a Test recall for Hales, and I hope he is included in the upcoming squad. Lets be honest about things, he can’t really do any worse than a lot of the players who have been playing at 2, 4, and 5, for England recently, so he certainly won’t be weakening the squad, and if he does come off, he can be destructive and a possible match winner.

I would like to see the Nottinghamshire man in the middle order batting at No.5, with one of Root and Malan at numbers 3 and 4 respectively (or the other way round if Joe insists on batting 4 still).

In Ashes Betting Australia are still odds on favourites at 4/7. A drawn series is 6/1, with England at 5/2, all odds with bet365 (Welcome Bonus up to £200 here) and correct at the time of writing.

Ashes Fixtures 2017/18

The Ashes in Australia is fast approaching, and this year sees the fist ever Day/Night Test match between the 2 nations, with Adelaide hosting the event at the start of December.

As ever there is 5 Test matches, and all the usual venues are being used, with the tradition Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, and the new year’s Test match in Sydney.

Ashes Test Match Dates

England currently hold the Ashes after a 3-2 series win in England back in 2015, so in the event of a drawn series, Joe Root’s men would retain the Urn.

Latest Ashes Betting

Ashes Spread Betting

Roland-Jones axing shows ruthless side to Joe Root

The brutal nature of top class international sport was never better highlighted than Wednesday’s axing of Toby Roland-Jones from the England team for the 2nd Test against West Indies, starting on Friday.

Roland-Jones has played just 3 Tests, taking 14 wickets at an average of 19.35, with 2 of those Test matches having been against South Africa.

In truth, Roland-Jones has done nothing wrong, but it just goes to show how tough international sport is, and from an England fans point of view, shows a more ruthless nature from the new Joe Root regime, which will surely be needed if England are to have a chance in the Ashes later this year.

In the past I would suggest that England could rightly be accused of metaphorically taking their foot off the throat when they are on top, rather than pressing down harder, like an Aussie or South African team would have.

England could easily do that against this West Indies team, but bringing Chris Woakes back at the expense of Roland-Jones suggests that England are not taking their foot off the throat. Before injury, Woakes had become one of England’s main players, so in bringing him back and not choosing to rotate or rest Anderson or Broad, England have shown they are not going to ease up.

In the latest Ashes betting, Betvictor currently have England as the 11/5 outsiders to win the Ashes outright, they have shortened slightly after the series win over South Africa. A drawn series is 6/1, with an Aussie win currently at 8/13.

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With the first Ashes test not until 23rd November, there is plenty of time for those odds to change. Australia could struggle in Bangladesh, and either side could pick up injuries, resulting in a change in the odds.

Australia will always be the favourites in their own conditions though (unless something dramatic happens), and the worldwide trend of late shows that the likes on England, Australia and India, all thrive in their home conditions, but struggle when they they tour each other’s nations, so clearly England will be up against it.

All England can do at the moment is give themselves their best chance. They have already demolished South Africa 3-1 this summer, and by getting their best XI on the field against West Indies, and being ruthless, they are demonstrating to Australia that they are not going be a pushover.

England v West Indies Test Series Betting

If the bookmakers are to be believed, West Indies are set to be trounced by a resurgent England in the forthcoming three-Test series, set to begin at Edgbaston on 17 August and followed by matches at Headingley (25 August) and Lord’s (7 September).

Despite a collapse in the second Test at Trent Bridge, England’s recent comprehensive 3-1 series win over South Africa produced a number of stand-out performances, and the side would now seem to be packed with buccaneering all-rounders for the first time in a long time — if ever. As a result of the series win, England cricket is on a high and odds on the forthcoming Ashes series show the punters are getting back on board too.

Against South Africa, Moeen Ali had one of the best sustained performances of his career, taking 25 wickets at 15.64, making him the leading wicket taker for the series, and scoring 252 runs at 36.00 with two fifties. Fellow all-rounder Ben Stokes also made a formidable contribution, scoring 299 runs at 37.37, including a highest score of 112 and two fifties, and taking 7 wickets at 43.00.

Other England performances across the South Africa series also suggest that the hosts are going to have too much firepower for the Windies with both bat and ball: new skipper Joe Root finished his first series in charge with 461 runs at 57.62, with 1 ton and 3 fifties; Johnny Bairstow found some form, scoring 330 runs at 41.25 with 3 fifties, including a memorable 99 in the last Test; and Alastair Cook was Alastair Cook, his 268 runs coming at 33.50 with two half-centuries.

Stand out performers with the ball (apart form Moeen) were: Jimmy Anderson (as to be expected), with 20 wickets at 14.10 (best 7/54); new boy Toby Roland-Jones, who took 10 wickets at 22.20 (including a 5-wicket haul on debut); and Stuart Broad, who chipped in with 11 wickets at 32.00, with a best of 3/46.

West Indies, on the other hand, come into the series without showing any particularly impressive form in its lead-up matches, finishing with draws against Essex and Kent (with a match against Derbyshire to come). Several batsmen managed to get starts against the County attacks without going on with it: skipper Kraigg Brathwaite scored 61 in the first innings against Essex (but followed this up with scores of 2, 8 and 0); Jermaine Blackwood produced a fifty in each match; while Roston Chase was impressive in his 81 in the first innings against Essex, which he followed up with 50* in the second dig (he didn’t play in the Kent match).

It’s been said many times before, of course, but West Indies bowling attacks of today have none of the penetration and ferocity of their illustrious predecessors, and there would seem at this stage to be little in their bowling line-up to worry the England batsmen. Nevertheless, Kemar Roach took 5/43 off 18 overs against Kent, while Alzarri Joseph picked up 4/72 off 22 overs in the same match.

Form alone coming into the First Test at Edgbaston would therefore seem to point to a comprehensive England win, and a quick troll through some of the major bookmakers profiled on the comparison site Playright would seem to back this up. 1/4 at SkyBet are currently the best odds you can get on an England win in the First Test, with a best price for the draw of 5/1 at SkyBet, William Hill, BetFred and PaddyPower.

If you do fancy a punt on the Windies coming out on top at Edgbaston, you can currently get 14/1 at BetFred, or 12/1 at William Hill, PaddyPower and 21Bet.

Bet365 also has a market in place for the overall series result (an England 3-0 win is currently 8/13). Given the fact that the series is being played so late in the summer, the possibility of all three Tests being drawn due to rain is not entirely out of the question, so the odds of 100/1 for a 0-0 series result could be the best value bet of the summer, and one that’s definitely worth having a tenner on!

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On the cricket field, and the 2017 IPL is well underway, and one of the pre tournament favourites, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), are in a right mess.

Star players Indian captain Virat Kohli, West Indies superstar Chris Gayle, and former South African captain, AB de Villiers, are all totally misfiring this season.

RCB are now a massive 50/1 (last in the betting) to win the IPL, having being the red hot favourites after buying Tymal Mills in the auction. It is a spectacular collapse from a team boasting such talent, and there is clearly something wrong with the highly rated franchise.

They’ve managed only 2 wins from their 10 outings so far, and only climbed off the bottom of the table with the point they earned from a washout against Sunrisers Hyderabad earlier in the week.

India V Australia, 3rd Test Betting, Sledging, and Mitchell Starc’s foot

The 3rd Test in what has been a very hard fought series between India and Australia starts in Ranchi on Thursday, and amid all the flak flying around, and the controversy over referrals, etc, it looks set to another enthralling spectacle.

The 2nd Test at Bengaluru a couple of weeks back was a topsy-turvy affair, with Australia managing to lose a low scoring game by 75 runs, despite having a 1st innings lead of 87 runs.

To further compound Aussie misery, they have lost both the Mitchells to injury, Marsh and Starc. The lose of Mitchell Marsh (shoulder) isn’t probably the biggest problem for Australia, as they have spinning all-rounder options to come into the side at No.6, and that ensures they can keep the balance of the team as it was.

The loss of Mitchell Starc with a stress fracture of the foot is a bigger blow though. Starc may not have pulled up many trees on this tour, but he is the spearhead of the Aussie attack. Not only will his loss to the attack be felt here, there is also the worry of longer term problems for the left arm quick.

Starc has already spent a lot of time out injured with foot and ankle problems over the last 2 to 3 years. So with the Champions Trophy and Ashes coming up over the next 10 months, the Aussie camp will be praying that it’s nothing more than a routine stress fracture, brought on by bowling on a dry hard pitch, rather than something more deep routed, that is maybe related to previous issues.

Most of the top Sports Betting Sites have India at 8/13 to win the 3rd Test, and take a 2-1 series lead. The draw is at around 9/2 to 5/1, with an Australia victory at around 3/1, with Betvictor sticking their necks out a bit, and offering 7/2.

A win here at Ranchi for the Aussies would see them retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, as that would mean the worst the Aussies could do is draw the series, and as the current holders of the trophy, Steven Smith’s team would retain if the series is drawn.

There has been plenty of bickering between these two sides, and it will be interesting to see what kind of spirit the 3rd Test is played in. The two respective boards have held clear the air talks, and the match referee has got involved pre match, to try and ensure the match is played in the right spirit.

To see the Aussies moaning about sledging is slightly ironic, and as Ian Chappell himself said, when you dish it out, you have to be prepared to take it when it comes back your way, and he knows a thing or two about sledging.

“I also don’t think the Australians are in any position to start throwing stones. They’re no choirboys themselves. It’s ridiculous to allow that much chatter to occur on the field.”

Ian Chappell