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Stuart Dalgleish 8th Jul 2013 - 11:18

Could Joe be the Root to all of England's problems?

England (1/3 for the series) made the tough call of dropping Nick Compton for this summer's Ashes and will go with Joe Root (10/1 top series batsman) to open the batting against Australia (4/1, drawn series 6/1).

There can be no doubting the young Yorkshireman's quality, but it is a lot of responsibility to make your debut as a Test opener against Australia, but for England's sake it will hopefully be a test he can pass with flying colours.

Root will have to show mental strength as well as technical ability as the Australians have made it clear they will be trying to sledge him to put him off his game, David Warner (14/1 series bat) already got the first blow in, quite literally, when he punched Root in a Birmingham bar, do we believe that the England star was sat their quietly or has the war of words been going on for a while now?

This is what makes the Ashes like no other series, there is so much more to it than just the action on the pitch.

An abiding memory of the last series was Mitchell Johnson saying to James Anderson (3/1 series bowler) "what are you chirping away for, you're not taking wickets", then the very next ball Anderson clipped the top of off stump to make Johnson look rather stupid.

If Root can respond in a similar manner by smashing boundaries then the Aussies' words will count for nothing.

Of course the tourists have more than just banter in their arsenal as their bowling attack is excellent, something England will all too aware of.

James Pattinson (5/1 series bowler), brother of one-time England bowler Darren, will share the new ball with Mitchell Starc (9/1), who is used to these pitches after a hugely successful spell with Yorkshire last season.

Nathan Lyon (14/1) is Australia's spin option, Shane Warne he is not, but he'll certainly ask questions of England's spin-vulnerable top order, whereas Peter Siddle (7/1) is an absolute workhorse who is always a danger with his superb consistency.

Australia will have to hope that their attack gets the conditions it requires, but at present it looks like it could be tough for the bowlers as warm weather is forecast, meaning huge pressure on their outstanding captain Michael Clarke (5/1 series batsman).

Clarke is the highest ranked batsman out of the two sides, and before time out injured he was the number one in the world; England can't allow themselves to get carried away if they get the Aussies 40 odd for 3 as Clarke could very quickly make that 200 for 3.

One smart move by new coach Darren Lehmann has been to put Shane Watson (12/1) back to the top of the order, both his Test centuries have come as opener and he seems a lot more fluid when the responsibility is on him to build the innings rather than rescuing it after a loss of early wickets.

Watson will open with Chris Rogers (12/1), with the controversial Warner possibly coming in further down the card if he's selected at all after his incident earlier in the summer.

Rogers has only played one Test, back in 2008 when he only scored 19 runs, but he has plenty of experience of English conditions having played for Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire and he currently captains Middlesex.

Australia's batting line-up is shorn of the quality of those teams from years gone by, but the likes of Brad Haddin (28/1) have caused England problems before, Phil Hughes (16/1) possess big power and Usman Khawaja (28/1) is a stylish batsman, but hasn't got the big scores his play deserves.

While several questions marks hang over Australia's line-up and the players themselves, there isn't really anybody under pressure for England now that Compton is out of the team.

Jonny Bairstow (28/1) could be the one fall guy if things go wrong, but he has scored well recently for England and should hopefully be able to nail down that troublesome number six slot after Eoin Morgan, Ravi Bopara and James Taylor have all surrendered it.

Big things will again be expected of Kevin Pietersen (6/1) on his return to the team, but he thrives on these occasions so it would be a huge surprise if he wasn't featuring heavily on England's scorecard.

I don't think it will be a walkover but I certainly expect England to win, with this in mind I would look at one of our several special markets for this series and back Total Number of Australia Wins - One at 6/4.

2-1 to England in the correct score market is an attractive looking 7/1, you would have to think that weather will play a part at some point so I'd steer clear of 3-1 at 11/2.





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