- Full Ashes preview for the 2019 series
- Series outright, correct score, top runscorer and top wicket-taker markets
Cricket lovers rejoice! The pinnacle of Test Cricket, the Ashes, is here. Kicking off tonight at Edgbaston, the five-test series will work its way around England over the next six weeks.
Stock up on coffee, Red Bull or your poison of choice, because there’s a lot of sleepless nights coming up.
We’ve got the main series markets courtesy of Ladbrokes, so read on for some further thoughts…
First Test: Thursday, August 1 at Edgbaston, Birmingham
Second Test: Wednesday, August 14 at Lord’s, London
Third Test: Thursday, August 22 at Headingley, Leeds
Fourth Test: Wednesday, September 4 at Old Trafford, Manchester
Fifth Test: Thursday, September 12 at The Oval, London
— ICC (@ICC) July 31, 2019
England go in as favourites off the back of their lead-in form, notwithstanding a less-than-impressive display against Ireland, who were playing their very first Test. They’ve won their last four Tests on home soil, so the price is hardly surprising going into a home series.
Australia is on the road so immediately behind the 8-ball, and uncertainty surrounds the return from long-term suspensions of David Warner and Steve Smith, both absolutely critical members of the Australian batting order. But in many ways, the World Cup in England couldn’t have come at a better time in preparation for this series, as it gave them the chance to get on a big stage in England before walking out for the Ashes. There’s been much talk about the treatment they’re copping from the English crowds, though I wouldn’t expect it to have a huge impact on either. They’re both hardened professionals that showed during the World Cup they’re able to block out noise from the cheap seats.
The series draw is a long way out in price and deservedly so. Both bowling attacks looks strong and ready to go: England with Anderson, Broad, Woakes, Archer and Stokes, and Australia with Cummins, Starc, Lyon, Hazelwood and the returning Pattinson. Getting wickets wouldn’t appear a problem for either side, which means Test match results and a probable series result.
Overall, price-wise, I think the market has it about spot-on here. You give slight favouritism to the Poms at home, but Australia certainly aren’t out of it. I don’t expect either side to dominate across the series, so the pricing looks reasonable.
A notoriously difficult market, especially as these two have somewhat of a history of producing close Test matches! Close matches can easily fall either way which makes predicting an exact score very tough.
The first thing I’d be doing is eliminating any clean sweeps… I wouldn’t expect either side to win to nil in what should be a tight series. So the temptation, given the bowling attacks, is to look to options with results in all five tests… but can we rely on the English weather not to spoil at least one match?
Therefore, I think factoring in at least one draw may be savvy, and am looking at such as 3-1 either way, or 2-2, which are priced in the $7 – $11 range. Taking a couple of these may prove a decent strategy.
Markets here are dominated by the two big guns. Virat Kohli aside, Smith and Root are the two biggest-name batsmen in world cricket, and there’s no signs Smith can’t pick up where he left off pre-suspension.
I think Root is a very safe bet for the English given the rest of their order, but not sure I’d be diving straight into the $3 on offer… it doesn’t strike me as great value.
It’s a little less clear on the Australian side. Smith deserves the favouritism, but personally I wouldn’t discount Warner. A bit has been made of his record – especially his failure to yet score a century in Tests in England – but overall it’s hardly catastrophic, with him averaging 37 and having six 50s to his name in 15 innings on English soil. The other factor is mental. Say what you like about Warner, but he’s a bloody determined, single-minded bugger, and you get the feeling he’s one of those sportsmen who produces his best against a bit of controversy and unrest. He showed that during the World Cup. He won’t be intimidated.
For a smoky with a bit value, it’s hard to go past Matthew Wade. Yes, he’s unproven, but he’s simply forced himself into the squad with mountains of runs. His form is undeniable and he could be a major surprise packet if he can convert that to Test level. If he looks like getting a game, he might be worth a small wager.
As always in English conditions, the pacemen should move the ball all over the place and the markets reflect that. Cummins and Starc are top of the pile for Australia and deservedly so. At the prices available, I like the look of Starc. He’s fearsome when in stride and looked to be in great shape in the World Cup. With his pace and the ball moving, and a few suspect English batsmen, he’s the one I’d look to at the prices… Cummins is a touch short for mine.
Likewise on the English side, I think Anderson at the top of the market is a bit short. His record is unquestionable, but he’s no spring chicken and him getting through five Tests isn’t a certainty. Archer is the one who’s a touch unpredictable and could be a surprise packet, but $5.50 isn’t good enough for me. I’m with Broad at the price – I think there’s far to big a gap between him and Anderson.