The Ashes preview
The waiting is nearly over as this week sees the start of the 2009 Ashes Series.
Our cricket expert Rob Dixon gives his views below:
Old rivalries will once again be resumed, this time starting at the new test venue that is the Swalec Stadium in Cardiff. Many will still have memories of 2005, hopefully over the course of the next 30 days of test cricket then these can be rekindled.
So who's going to win? Well it will be a tough one to call, Australia won't have the might of messrs Langer, Warne, Gilchrist and McGrath to pick from. England will also be without some of their star players from 2005 with the likes of Trescothick, Jones, Hoggard and the recently retired Michael Vaughan all absent through one reason or another.
A new superstar will need to etch his name in the history books, there are a few contenders though. England's Ravi Bopara (a 5/1 shot to be the top run scorer for England in the series) has been a sensation since his recall in the Caribbean during the winter. Rolling off three successive centuries he seemed to have solved England's problem number three position. For Australia Mitchell Johnson (7/4 to take the most wickets in the series for Australia) is arguably the best current fast bowler in the world and also has a useful batting average as well, on the recent tour of South Africa he was named Man of the Series with 16 wickets and 250 runs in three Tests.
I believe that the team that consistently bowls better will win The Ashes, Australia, despite having useful bowlers don't have the class of McGrath and Warne anymore. Their weakness in the spin department especially after the heatwave we have had over the last two weeks will be alarming their coach. England will have to decide whether to play Monty Panesar at Cardiff or rely on the seam of Ryan Sidebottom.
Australia will start marginal favourites to win the series, however England do have a bit of momentum after the upheavals at the end of last year. My prediction is that England will start the series with a win and go on to reclaim that little urn come late August with a 2-1 series scoreline.
We have at least 70 markets to bet on pre match and also offer a wide range of in-play markets.
ENGLAND TO WIN THE ASHES - 7/4
MITCHELL JOHNSON - TOP ASHES SERIES BOWLER - 11/4
ENGLAND TO WIN THE 1st TEST - 9/4