1st Test    August 1st to 5th  Edgbaston

  • Australia won by 251 runs

2nd Test  August 14th to 18th  Lord’s

3rd Test   August 22nd to 26th  Headingley

4th Test   September 4th to 8th  Old Trafford

5th Test   September 12th to 16th  The Oval

England started the 1st Test as odds on favourites, but after having had Australia 122 for 8 on Day 1, went on to lose by 251 in a crushing defeat. However, Jos Buttler has insisted there is no need for panic in the England dressing room following Edgbaston.

“If you’re not good enough for long enough, then you’re not going to win the game. But we’ve got a fantastic team. We’ve lost that game, but we come here (to Lord’s) with a lot of excitement and belief that we’re a good enough side to win this Test and make it one-all.”

The big positive for England was a maiden Test hundred for Rory Burns, top scoring in the 1st innings with 133. He is now 5/2 to be England’s top series runscorer with Bet 365, while Joe Root still heads the betting, best priced with Betfred at 2/1. Sporting Index now quote Burn’s series runs at 375-395 (after a pre series quote of 290-310). An allocation of around 60 runs per match highlighting the fact many believe he was fortunate in the 1st Test and will struggle to replicate such a performance for the rest of the series. He played and missed over 30 turns during his hundred and never looked comfortable at the crease.

England have resisted making wholesale changes. Their batting line up will remain the same, but the bowling will see some alterations. James Anderson is out injured, with Jofra Archer likely to take his place. Sam Curran is also in the squad and provides another option. Moeen Ali has been dropped for Jack Leach who was Man of the Match against Ireland prior to the Ashes. Jofra Archer is 11/4 joint favourite to be England’s top bowler on debut in the 2nd Test, which illustrates how highly he is rated on the back of 131 wickets at an average of 23.44 in 28 first-class matches for Sussex.

While Justin Langer has made it clear he won’t be afraid to tinker with a winning attack, Australia are unlikely to make changes. While Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood enjoyed some success against Worcestershire in their recent tour match, one feels the selectors will keep faith with the bowlers that have so successfully given them a series lead. Marcus Harris scored runs at New Road, but I would expect Cameron Bancroft to keep his place at the top of the order.

Steven Smith scored 286 runs in Birmingham and was the major difference between the sides. He now averages 62.96 in Test cricket, and 60.84 against England. He is best priced at 1/10 with Bet365 to be Australia’s Top Series Batsman. England need to find a way to dismiss him early if they are to regain the Ashes. They will hope the extra pace of Archer, and Leach turning the ball away from the bat will create chances that need to be taken. Ahmed Raza, a left-arm orthodox spinner from the UAE, has linked up with Australis’s Ashes squad in London to help Steven Smith prepare to confront his supposed weakness against the bowling style. He averages only 34.9 against left-arm finger spinners. However, to put in context, this is largely due to dismissals in the subcontinent by Rangana Herath and Ravindra Jadeja, and its difficult to imagine similar conditions in London this week.

Possible 2nd Test Line-ups:

England: Rory Burns, Jason Roy, Joe Root*, Joe Denly, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow+, Chris Woakes, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, Jack Leach

Australia: David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Steven Smith, Travis Head, Mathew Wade, Tim Paine*+, Pat Cummins, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon

Joe Root was very critical of the pitch at Lord’s for the Ireland Test, which led to England being skittled for 85 on Day 1, but he may now wish for a similar surface. The pitch looked green again during Australia’s optional training session yesterday. However overhead conditions may be a larger factor than the 22 yards with changeable weather expected. While cloud cover will encourage swing, it is also likely to interrupt play. Rain is around the capital on all 5 days, with the forecast for Days 1 and 4 looking particularly poor.

The draw price has shortened significantly from as big as 6/1 last week, to as short as 11/10 with Ladbrokes, Coral, Bet 365 and Betfred. This shortening has not been represented on all the long-term prices, with plenty of value around on the correct score market given the current odds for the 2nd Test. Australia to win the series 2-1 at 20/1 with Betfred the best bet in my opinion.

Given conditions, and his record of 24 wickets at 9.75 in 4 tests at Lord’s, Chris Woakes to be Man of the match at 12/1 with Bet365 may also be of interest.


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