Ashes Series Preview
Finally the talking is nearly over, a whole year's preparation will have been completed and just after midnight on Thursday 25th November, the greatest cricket rivalry of all time will restart over again at the Gabba, Brisbane. Cricket compiler Rob Dixon will talk you through some value in this winter's renewal.
Usually when England travel down under for these games, there is normally a bit of fear and trepidation, any confidence is normally evaporated by the end of the 1st Test and a long winter is ahead of us, there are reasons though to be extremely optimistic about England's chances this time around though with a near perfect build up coupled with an Australian side struggling for form and suffering injuries to key personnel. Could it be that England are about to bring that little urn home from Australia for the first time since Mike Gatting's tour of 1986-87.
The answer to this is most definitely yes, player for player England have the better team, Andrew Strauss is a class act as a captain and opening batsman, Alistair Cook despite his troubles has found form in the recent tour game and obviously there is a certain Kevin Pietersen straining at the leash to play the starring role again. They also possess the one world class spinner on show in the series in Graeme Swann. If he continues the form shown over the past two years then the Ashes will be on that plane back to Heathrow early next year.
Australia's form is worrying for the hosts, seven successive defeats was broken by victory in the last ODI however injury concerns over opener Simon Katich & Michael Clarke leaves the Aussies with plenty of difficult choices leading into the series opener.
I think at the current prices, England are really good value at 7/4, they don't seem to suffer from the fear of past tourists and I still feel the Australians are priced on past glories more than recent performances.
Of the other markets, I like Andrew Strauss for top Ashes Batsman, he has proven he is adept at leading from the front and is calm under pressure, unlike other captains he also seems to have thrived with the bat since the burden of captaincy. Don't expect the Australians to give up quietly though and for Top Ashes Bowler I like the look of Peter Siddle at 10/1. Admittedly he has just recently returned from a stress fracture of the back but he has played the last few Sheffield Shield domestic games over there and has been back to close to his best. Expect Siddle to shoulder the majority of the workload for this Australian attack.
At William Hill this year we also have a wide range of specials and we are betting on when England will retain the Ashes? I like the look of the 4th Test at 4/1. I can certainly see England getting off to a fast start and that will put immense pressure on the Australian selectors and captain Ricky Ponting to make changes. Whatever happens in the series, its expected to enthralling as usual, join us at William Hill and follow the action both pre-match & in-play
England to win the Ashes - 7/4
Andrew Strauss - Top Ashes Series Batsman - 7/1
Peter Siddle - Top Ashes Series Bowler - 10/1
When Will England Retain The Ashes? - 4th Test @ 4/1
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