WE’RE just days away from the start of the 2015 Ashes series. Here Josh Healey (@joshhealey04) focuses on the best bets involving England.
Ashes Tips | 8th July – 24th August 2015 | Top England Batsman
England’s batting line-up is a lengthy one packed with quality and that makes the betting especially difficult here. Seen by most as a batting all-rounder, Moeen Ali has been thrown the frontline spinner role and demoted to number eight, giving an indication of England’s strength in depth.
There’s some healthy prices on offer – the likes of Ian Bell (5/1 888 Sport), Gary Ballance (7/1 BetVictor) and Ben Stokes (10/1 Bet365) all appear good prices but whether they can consistently score runs throughout the series remains to be seen. Bell and Ballance have both hit a slump in form, whilst Stokes’ cavalier approach could see him throw away his wicket cheaply on occasion.
Adam Lyth (9/1 Betway) may go well but his inexperience against bowling attacks of this quality means he will probably fall short of the top scorer, whilst Jos Buttler (16/1 888 Sport) and the aforementioned Ali (33/1 Paddy Power) bat too far down the order and will often be tasked with batting with the tail, ultimately cutting their run tally short.
It’s no surprise that Joe Root is favourite to lead the run scoring at 11/4 (Bet365) and I wouldn’t put anyone off backing him. He is a special player and it is surely a formality that he will become an England great in the years to come. However, Alastair Cook at 7/2 with Betfred looks to edge Root on the value front for me. If I had said this several months ago it would have seemed ludicrous, and rightly so. But Cook appears to have rectified his flawed technique and gotten back to his reliable best.
In the Caribbean he edged back into form notching 268 runs and finishing 90 behind Root, who topped the charts in that series. More impressively though, he followed that up with a clinical series against New Zealand, comfortably leading the way for his side with 308 runs at an average of 77.3.
As the odds suggest, Root and Cook are the two standout batsmen for England and there’s a good chance one of them will finish top runscorer for their side. The vast majority of punters will be on Root, and that’s fair enough, but for a man with such international pedigree I feel as though Cook is the value pick this time round.
Ashes Tips | 8th July – 24th August 2015 | Top England Bowler
You’d think England’s line-up would pick itself after the New Zealand series but the inclusion of Adil Rashid complicates things. New coach Trevor Bayliss has not ruled out playing two spinners if conditions suit but who would miss out if Rashid was to play? It’s a tough call, so we will have to wait and see.
Moeen Ali can take heart from Bayliss referring to him as the number one spinner but even at 10/1 (888 Sport) I don’t think he is worth backing. The Aussies have some exceptional players of spin who are sure to target him.
As ever the legendary Jimmy Anderson leads the betting but provides no value at 28/13 (888 Sport). After a prolific tour of the Caribbean, Jimmy’s form took a dip as he only managed six wickets in two matches against New Zealand.
The two Durham boys Ben Stokes (7/1 Ladbrokes) and Mark Wood (9/2 Bet365) should claim their fair share of scalps, however I cannot see either topping the wicket charts. In a prolonged series I feel the two senior men will rack up bigger tallies.
Funnily enough I turn to a man who often divides opinion – Stuart Broad. After a relatively poor tour of the Caribbean, Broad bounced back to claim 13 wickets in two matches v New Zealand. He then followed that up with a seven wicket haul for Notts against Yorkshire, and so it is clear he has found some rhythm and will be raring to go here.
It’s impossible to ignore Broad’s fantastic Ashes record. In the 2009 home series he led the way with 18 wickets. Then after only a short stint in the 2010-11 series he returned for the 2013 home series and notched 22 wickets, just four behind Graeme Swann.
More recently Broad led the way once again with 21 wickets in the disastrous 2013-14 whitewash, miraculously coming out of that series with some credibility. Odds of 3/1 available with Paddy Power are more than fair. Although erratic at times, on his day he is almost unplayable. I must say I was tempted by Mark Wood, but Broad’s recent form and sensational Ashes record has edged it.
Top England Batsman – Alastair Cook (7/2 Betfred)
Top England Bowler – Stuart Broad (3/1 Paddy Power)
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