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.

2015 Ashes Betting

The dust has yet to settle on England’s humiliating 5-0 capitulation at the hands of Australia, and already Alastair Cook’s men have been made favourites for the return series in England in 2015.

Never mind waiting for the fall out, and any possible repercussions, Bet365 already have England as Even money favourites to regain the Urn, when Australia visit next year.

England are Even money favourites, a drawn series is 5/1, and Australia are 6/4 to win the series outright.

Obviously a lot will change in the next 18 months, there will be injuries, retirements, loss of form, discoveries of talent, etc…. the make of the current sides certainly can’t be taken as a yardstick to judge things by, that’s for sure.

Mitchell Johnson will probably never have another series like the one he has just had. He will also be 18 months older, and as he is the wrong side of 30, may well have lost some of his current zip by then.

Ryan Harris and Chris Rogers, and Brad Haddin may well also be gone, although Australia do have some decent players waiting in the wings, with bat, ball and gloves.

As for England, apart from losing Swann and probably Trott, will Cook, Bell, Pietersen, Prior, etc even recover from the experience?

England also have some raw talent, but will it be good and experienced enough in 18 months time?

There are a lot of questions about where both sides will be at by the time the next series comes around.

Ashes Betting Preview

Despite coming so soon on the back of the last series in England, it appears that – for the time being at least – the Aussie and British appetite for the Ashes is showing no sign of slowing down…. at least, if the build up over the last few days has been anything to go by.

The Aussies seem confident, there seems to be a new feeling of self belief coming out of the their camp, a sense that they have bottomed out, and that their worst days are now well behind them.
For England, they are saying all the right things, as they always do. Andy Flower always seems to have them singing from the same hymn sheet, and making sure that his players are sending out the right message, en mass
I expect Kevin Pietersen to be the star man for England this series. He is set to win his 100th cap in Brisbane, and I think he seems really up for this series, more than he usually is.
Pietersen seems a very content man these days. All the nonsense is behind him now, and he seems to be an integral part of the team, and buying into the team ethic 100%.
Despite Michael Carberry looking set to come into the team, and Joe Root dropping down the order, the English batting looks fairly settled to me.
Compare that to the Aussie batting, with Watson at No.3, and Steven Smith at No.5 – I would take the England batting ahead of Australia’s any day. I could end up with egg on my face here, but I just don’t see Watson as a top three batsman. 
As well as not seeing Watson as a batsman good enough to bat in the top 3, I also don’t see Steven Smith as a No.5, for me his is a 6 or 7 at best. Will these batting weaknesses cost Australia?
The Aussie bowling also looks a bit fragile. Can Ryan Harris last 5 Tests? And is Mitchell Johnson really back to his best? If the answers to both these questions is yes, then Australia will certainly be in this series.
The England side is pretty settled and predictable. Did England take their foot off the gas after Lord’s in the last series in England? Or are Australia better than we gave them credit for, and competed on an equal footing at the back end of the series, making England look average? 
My Predictions

Although I think England are the slightly stronger side, I see home advantage helping Australia, and with the Aussie public seemingly up for this too – believing their boys have a chance – I think that the contest could be fairly even.
I know it sounds obvious, but I simply believe the team who plays the best cricket in the pressure moments will win. 
To elaborate a bit more on that, I think the two teams are reasonably evenly matched, so it will be whoever steps up to the plate at the key moments that wins the series.
Australia played some good cricket at times in England last summer, but when it came to the crunch, they didn’t play too well under pressure…. key moments such as at Durham.
It remains to be seen if the Australians have overcome this habit of losing, and can win the pressure battles – I do believe that if they can handle the pressure, they can possibly win the series. 
Do I believe they will handle the pressure and win the series? I’m not convinced. 
If push comes to shove, I would go for England, but I think it will be a closer result – so my selection is 2-1 England.

Ashes Betting – Can Chris Tremlett be England’s Top Bowler?

All the rumours and stories coming out of the UK media who are currently based in Australia are suggesting that Chris Tremlett is the shoe in for England’s much talked about third seamer at the Gabba later this week.

A lot of this opinion seems to be formed on the back of comments made by England bowling coach David Saker, but could it be a bluff to try and trick the Aussies?

Either way, it doesn’t appear to have made any difference in the betting, as Tremlett is still available at 8/1 to top the wicket taking charts for England.

That makes him joint fifth favourite along with Boyd Rankin, and significantly still behind Steven Finn, who is fourth favourite.

The news that Tim Bresnan could be available for the second Test could also be another reason why the odds on this market don’t appear to have changed on the back of the Tremlett rumours.

There are so many factors to take into account if betting on this market. If everyone is fit and well, Bresnan is generally the third seamer, but England clearly expect pace and bounce given their squad selection, which goes slightly against Bresnan.

The job of third seamer is also a precarious role in the team. If England have a bad Test, and the selectors feel the need to freshen things up, they are not going to drop Anderson, Broad or Swann, so that only leaves the third seamer’s position.

So even if Tremlett does start in Brisbane, the chances are that he won’t start all 5 Test matches. But then again, if Broad or Anderson get injured, he may well do.

These are probably just some of the reasons why Tremlett’s odds haven’t really changed on the back of this news. And it goes some way to showing why picking the Top England Ashes Bowler is such a hard call.

Ashes Betting with Sportingbet Australia

Ahead of the upcoming Ashes series in Australia, I am pleased to announce to all our readers from down under that cricket betting blog has teamed up with Australian betting giant Sportingbet, to ensure that Australians can back England to win the Ashes again.

Along with our Northern Hemisphere betting partners, William Hill (£25 Free Bet available), who cover the UK and European betting markets, this now means that cricket betting blog can cater for punters betting in Australasia as well, giving value to more of our visitors from around the world.

Sportingbet is offering a free bet up to the value of $200 for new customers from Australia and New Zealand. To ensure you get the maximum $200 free bet, you will need to deposit $200, and then place $200 on your first bet.

It is basically a 100% match up, if you feel $200 is too much, you can make your fist bet $50, and receive a free bet for $50. All bets have to be placed in Australian Dollars, and this promotion is not open to residents of South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria. Any winnings from the free bet have to be turned over once before they can be withdrawn.  

As well as a tasty free bet, Sportingbet also offer regular Promotions. In October they ran a 0-0 bore draw special on Australian A-League football matches, where you got your money back on the outright winner market if a match ended 0-0.

They also have a running promotion on horse racing called the ‘Protest Pay Up.’ If your horse is first across the line only to be beaten in a protest, Sportingbet will pay you up as a winner – this is available on all Australian thoroughbred and harness races.

Getting back to cricket, and Sportingbet currently have England as 2.00 (even money) to win the Ashes outright. They go 2.50 (6/4) on a miracle, sorry I mean Australia winning the Ashes, and 6 (5/1) on a drawn series.

If you wish to open a Sportingbet account, you can do so by clicking here…..