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Nic Ladds 4th Jul 2009 - 13:45

Bopara the one to really rattle the Aussies

Everyone will remember in the last series how the batting was dominated by Kevin Pietersen for England and Ricky Ponting for Australia, but it's a new series with some new players and we're going to see if we can unearth some value for who is to be top run scorer for each side.


At odds of 5/2 Kevin Pietersen does carry a degree of appeal and it would be no surprise to see him rack up some big totals. His cockiness is usually either his greatest asset or his undoing and it really depends which of these it becomes when taking on Australia.

He top scored the last two Ashes series so clearly has the ability to trouble the Aussie bowlers, he has top scored in just one of the last five Test series' and at the price he may be too much of a risk.

Andrew Strauss is next in the betting at 10/3 but makes little appeal due to his poor record against Australia, averaging just 32. He also tends to not play left armers so well and in Mitchell Johnson will be facing one of the quickest left arm bowlers around and this, combined with the pressures of being captain mean he may struggle to make big totals.

Alastair Cook at 9/2 is another with a poor average against Australia - just 27 and while he is in reasonable nick is passed over also.

Ravi Bopara makes a fair deal of appeal priced at 5/1 as he has hit three centuries in his last three Test appearances.

He was top scorer against the West Indies and plays with a confidence not dissimilar to Pietersen which means he should fear no one from Australia, and at 5/1 he looks better value than the favourite.

If it was guaranteed Andrew Flintoff would remain fit and play all five Tests then 14/1 would seem a ridiculous price but there are too many doubts over Freddie's fitness, while for those fancying a bigger priced punt a wager on Matt Prior at 14/1 wouldn't be the worst bet ever.

A pair of fifties and a century in his last four Tests show that Prior is no mug with the bat as his average of 48 shows, and while he may not bat high enough to get huge totals he looks a decent price to give those who fancy it a run for their money.


Ravi Bopara top England series batsman - 5/1


Ricky Ponting is unsurprisingly the 5/2 favourite to top score for the away side and when you bear in mind he score over 100 runs more than the next best batsman in the last series so is bound to have his supporters.

However Ponting has not been in the best of form recently, with his average being only 39 over the last year and he has only once top scored in the last five series that Australia have played and that was against a poor West Indies side.

At the price it is worth taking him on and it is just a question of who with?

Phil Hughes is respected at odds of 7/2 as he has been in good form for Middlesex so will be more than familiar with the conditions and he was also impressive against South Africa so he certainly should be amongst the runs.

On the down side though, openers have a poor record when visiting England, most probably due to limitations being exposed when trying to handle the new ball which moves around.

As a result Hughes and his opening partner Simon Katich at 5/1 are ruled out as the main contenders for the top series batsman berth.

Michael Hussey is also available at 5/1 in the betting and he has an exceptional average against England having had a great Ashes series last time scoring 458 runs.

This year has been somewhat different though and his batting average has dropped to 29 which is not the kind of form you want to be bringing into an Ashes series.

As a result the best bet looks to be Michael Clarke at odds of 9/2. Clarke top scored for Australia in the last series against South Africa and in the one before that against New Zealand.

He has played county cricket so the conditions should not be too foreign to him and he scored an impressive 355 runs against England in the 2005 series where Australia lost.

He looks a natural successor to Ponting and is growing in confidence in every game and he could really have a big series and looks the bet at 9/2.

Michael Clarke to be to Australian series batsman - 9/2

Don't forget do keep an eye out for a host of great offers that will be on going throughout the Ashes. In the first Test, if you put £20 on the result of the match you will get a £5 bet on top England bastman absolutely free.

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