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Rupert Wyman 23rd Nov 2010 - 7:00

The Ashes First Test - Guide to the Gabba

England kick off their long awaited Ashes campaign in Brisbane on Wednesday night. The 'Gabba' has not been a happy hunting ground for The Three Lions on previous trips Down Under.   England have not won at the ground since the 86/87 tour, the last time they won the Ashes away from home.

Hopes were high when they travelled down under in 2006 but the tour got off to a disastrous start after Steve Harmison's opening ball wide in Brisbane set the tone for the match, and the series, England falling to a 271-run defeat before losing the series 5-0.

England will be hoping to change their poor record here by getting off to a flier in the first test. With both teams likely to attack I don't expect a draw so whoever gets first blood will be firm favourites to lift the little urn at the end of the series. At William Hill you will get the best price on England OR Australia winning this match.

The ground has gone through extensive redevelopment during the last fifteen years. The grassy banks and dog track have been replaced with modern concrete stands meaning the ground offers superb facilities and with a capacity of around 40,000 it's sure to be a hostile atmosphere for the England team. Traditionally there have been less England fans at the Gabba than some of the other grounds later in the tour but I am sure the 'Barmy Army' will make themselves heard.

There are a number of other sports played at the ground including Football, Rugby League and Aussie Rules and a big playing area meaning the likes of Pietersen and Prior will need to be on top form if they're to get maximum value for their big shots.

For a Test match the pitch is usually green on the opening morning, providing the bowlers with a chance to take wickets in the first session before flattening out somewhat and becoming easier to bat on. Graeme Swann is likely to enjoy it on the fourth and fifth day when spin comes in to play.

Gabba groundsman Kevin Mitchell recently said ''You would generally think it will be pretty good for batting day two and three and wear a bit on day four and five. It will definitely deteriorate as the game goes on.''"

That will be music to the ears of Swann, generally regarded as the best spinner in the World on current form, he is 10/1 for the man of the match award which I think is a great price.

There has been some rain forecast this week and Mitchell has stated that if the expected rain comes the pitch will be difficult to bat on in the first morning. That could provide a tough choice for whichever captain wins the toss. If you fancy a pre-match flutter then we'll give you even money on either team to win the toss.

With the early nerves and a potentially lively pitch an early wicket is likely. It's 5/6 for an opening partnership of less than 33.5 for the Aussies, 29.5 for England.

The Gabba is generally considered a good all-round test pitch with something for Batsman, quick bowlers and spinners and that should provide for a great game between two well-matched teams. I think there will be a positive result but we will need to wait for day five to see who comes out on top. Therefore I think the 7/2 for the game to end in the 2nd session of day Five seems worth a punt.

Gabba Stats

Established 1895
40,000 (approx)
170.6m long, 149.9m wide
Yes
Stanley Street End, Vulture Street End
Kevin Mitchell jnr

It's all setup for a great match and series. From now until the start of the first test William Hill offer you the following:

Guaranteed top price BOTH England and Australia to win the 1st test.

Guaranteed top price BOTH England and Australia to win the Ashes series.

Guaranteed top price BOTH captains (Strauss and Ponting) to be top series bat respectively for their own sides.

With great Ashes offers like that, why bet anywhere else?

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