Australia v England

The wait is nearly over with the first of five Ashes tests to get underway on Wednesday at The Gabba in Brisbane.

See our series preview & suggested betting strategy for the first test.


Australia go in heavy favourite’s to retain the Ashes but it’s been far from a seamless build up for the home side with a change of captaincy just a week or two out from the series opener.  Pat Cummins takes over from Tim Paine who resigned after news of a sexting scandal from 2017 broke at the end of November.

The Australian team has already been finalised by the selection panel for the 1st Test.  Alex Carey will take over the wicket keeping gloves from Tim Paine.  Travis Head gets the nod over Usman Khawaja for the spot at number five. The selectors back Marcus Harris at the top of the order and Mitchell Starc will keep his position in the side with the ball although will need to perform to continue to fend off the challenge of the Western Australian Jye Richardson.  I would consider all of these safe selections.  Perhaps Marcus Harris at the top of the order has the most to prove.  He averages 23.8 after ten tests and has just two half centuries to his name.

It goes with out saying Steve Smith is the biggest wicket in the Australian batting order.  He is clearly the best batter in the world and had a monster series last time these sides met in 2019.  774 runs @110.57 his output!  If the English are to have a chance of winning, they need to find a way to limit his influence through out the series – although that’s easier said than done.  His partner in crime Marnus Labusachagne is the other key wicket in the Aussie middle order.  He has had a sensational couple of years since bursting onto the scene with a match saving 59 at Lords in 2019.

Plenty of eyes will also be on veteran David Warner.  There were questions on his form heading into the T20 World Cup however he silenced his critics with a huge tournament.  Yes the test match arena is a different kettle of fish but he scores mountains of runs in Australia and has a point to prove against Stuart Broad who had the better of him in 2019.

With the ball, it’s the new captain Pat Cummins and ever reliable Josh Hazlewood the English top order would be most concerned about.  Both hammer away at the top of off stump at good pace and rarely give you a bad ball to hit.  Nathan Lyon is still bowling well enough and does a good holding job with the ball when it is required.


Onto the English…  They look likely to go with the traditional three seamer attack plus the spinner Jack Leech.  Just what the make up of that attack is we are not too sure on yet.  Unfortunately, one man who won’t be there for the first test is Jimmy Anderson after he injured a calf just days out from the opening test.  He loomed as a big threat on a wicket likely to be conducive to swing.  The Australian top order would be breathing a sigh of relief.

With the bat they need the skipper Joe Root to carry on with his outstanding run of form.  He’s made 1398 runs at 69.90 in 2021 and will be hungry for a big series against the Aussies after only averaging 32.59 in 2019.

Ben Stokes also returns to the side after a leave of absence.  He’s a wonderful all round cricketer and someone who loves taking it right up to the Aussies.  He has done it before on Australian soil and was prominent in the 2019 series averaging 55 with the bat.

The Wicket

Traditionally The Gabba wicket is one of the better cricket wickets going around as it offers something for both the batters and the bowlers.  That being said there has been an abundance of rain in Queensland over the past few weeks and there is further rain forecast through out the test match so this could result in a wicket closer to what you may expect to see in the UK.

This could be significant, especially if England gets to bowl first on it.  The last thing David Warner would want is to be facing Stuart Broad on a green seamer on the opening morning of the series.  Keeping in mind Broad clearly had the better of Warner last series in the UK.

The verdict

Australia has won seven of the last eight series against England on home soil so while it is impossible to tip against them, there are a few things worth mentioning that have gone the way of the English in recent weeks which may give them a fighting chance.

As I mentioned above The Gabba wicket may potentially play more like an English wicket, although the loss of Jimmy Anderson really does take some of that advantage way.  Another is the fifth test officially being moved from Perth where Australia would have been very short price favourites to win on a fast and bouncy wicket.  The new venue is still to be announced however if it was to be played in Tasmania for instance, where the ball often swings around, then again this brings the sides much close together.

Then there’s the unknown of Pat Cummins as captain.  While I think he will do a good job, he is unproven and there will be no easing into it as there might of been against a lesser nation.  Every bowling change & field placing will be under the full Ashes microscope.

Suggested Betting Strategy

Australia drifted out to as much as $2.13 to win the 1st Test towards the end of last week but with so much uncertainty around the weather I’m not overly keen to play in this market.  Looking to Runscorer & Wicket Taker markets instead.

Top Runscorer Markets – 1st Test

1.5 Units | Steve Smith Most Runs Australia 1st Innings @ $3.50 (TAB)

Worlds best batter and will have less exposure to new ball on green wicket batting at four as opposed to key rivals Warner (Opener) and Labuschagne (No. 3)

.4 Unit | Cameron Green Most Runs Australia 1st Innings @ $12 (TAB)

Made most runs in the Sheffield Shield last year and looks big odds in this market if Australia loses early wickets.

1 Unit | Ben Stokes Most Runs England 1st Innings @ $5 (TAB)

Second best batter in English side.  Made most runs for England in 2019.  Again will be in the middle order so may have easier time than those in top order against the new ball on a seeming wicket.

Top Wicket Taker Markets – 1st Test

1.5 Units | Josh Hazlewood Most Wickets Australia 1st Innings @ $4.2 (TAB)

Think Hazlewood and Cummins clear top picks in this market.  Hazlewood should be closer to $3.50.

1.5 Units | Ollie Robinson Most Wickets England 1st Innings @ $3.75 (TAB)

Early in career but already has an impressive record – test bowling average of under 20.  Looks most suited out of the English bowlers in Australian conditions.

Series Bet

1.5 Units | Ollie Robinson Most Wickets England @ $4 (Sportsbet)