The Ashes 1st Test: England begin campaign to regain urn from Aussies
As predicted, tension has already begun with numerous wars of words, despite calls for there to be a more sportsmanship approach to the upcoming Ashes, but finally we will be able to see both sides battle it out on the pitch.
England (7/2 series chances with Coral) ready themselves in their quest to regain the famous urn, as they host Australia in the first Test at Cardiff’s SWALEC Stadium, a ground where these two sides drew at last time they met (2009).
Another share of the spoils here is priced at 9/4 in the first of five matches, but England (3/1 for victory) have been given a boost that Baggy Greens bowler Ryan Harris announced his retirement from the game just before the series.
The 35-year-old’s absence will be well missed for Australia (10/11 favourites), as he was in their top three wicket takers in each of the last three Ashes series’ and got the most last time it was played over here.
That means that Mitchell Starc (9/4 to be best Aussie bowler in the first innings), Mitchell Johnson (5/2) and Josh Hazlewood (11/4) will be the main pace options, supported by all-rounder Shane Watson and either Peter Siddle or replacement Pat Cummins.
Australia’s batting line-up, though, will certainly be tough to crack, with world number one-ranked Steve Smith (3/1 to be his team’s top batsman in the first innings) likely to be in higher up the order at three. Opener David Warner (3/1) and skipper Michael Clarke (4/1) will also be big threats if allowed to get into their rhythm.
For England, they will be under the leadership of Australian Trevor Bayliss for the first time, and they will be hoping that they can gel in such a short amount of time.
The hosts arguably have a batting line-up to match the Aussies, with Joe Root (3/1 to be best England batsman in the first innings) the answer to Smith.
Captain Alastair Cook (7/2) will also be looking to get in amongst the runs, as will elder statesman Ian Bell (9/2), whose call-up was questioned by some due to his poor recent form. Don’t count out rising stars Gary Ballance (5/1), Ben Stokes (8/1) and wicketkeeper Jos Buttler (12/1) either.
In the bowling department, there could be a first Test call-up for Yorkshire leg-spinning all-rounder Adil Rashid (9/2), with Moeen Ali (11/2) the only real slow delivery option.
Record England Test wicket taker James Anderson (5/2) and Stuart Broad (11/4) will lead the pace attack, with Stokes (9/2), Mark Wood (7/2) and Steven Finn (7/2) other possible options.
Coral’s betting tip – Root is top England batsman (first innings) @ 3/1