FIVE Ashes tests but who will come out on top between England and Australia? Josh Healey (@joshhealey) gives us his verdict.
The Ashes | 8th July – 24th August
34 Ashes series have been contested in England of which 17 have been won by the hosts and 14 by Australia, with three draws making up the numbers. England have won the last three after Australia had a dominant period where they won four on the bounce.
From 158 Tests in England, Australia have a win percentage of 29.1%, just edged by England’s 29.7%, but eclipsed by the draw which has occurred in a whopping 41.2% of matches.
History suggests there will be two draws in this series; it has occurred in all of the last three in England and I’m inclined to believe that will happen once more.
The weather is sure to play a part at some point and we could be served up with our fair share of lifeless pitches as clubs look to extract five days of cricket in order to maximise revenues. Rock hard decks offering good pace and bounce will surely be kept to a minimum so as not to play into the Aussies hands.
If we are expecting two draws then that leaves us with 3-0 or 2-1 wins for either side, but which side will claim the win? Australia are clear favourites but will England be able to throw up a surprise or two?
First of all, a 2-1 win for Australia looks a good bet, available at 17/2 with SkyBet. Australia’s fearsome bowling unit is their main strength, and although their batting line-up is a tad brittle it does contain vast amounts of experience and attacking flair.
Working together, the two elements of this side form a formidable outfit that has the potential to create history by claiming an Ashes victory on English soil for the first time in fourteen years.
However it’s hard to ignore the many ageing players within their ranks. The likes of Chris Rogers, Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson are all coming towards the end of their careers and are arguably past their peak. Fitness could prove a problem for some of these weathered veterans.
In contrast to that, England have a fresh side with an exciting and potentially devastating blend of experience and youth. What if this ageing Australia side doesn’t fulfil its potential and suddenly everything clicks for England?
For me that cannot be ruled out. We saw shades of an excellent side in the first Test against New Zealand and it’s not far-fetched to think that could materialise this summer.
Again I’ll stick with the 2-1 but this time I’ll go against the grain and take a punt on the hosts pulling off a huge upset. England to win 2-1 can be backed at healthy odds of 16/1 with SkyBet.
When examining the teams you could argue England are slightly stronger in the batting department, whilst the Aussies trump the hosts with the ball. However with questions over the fitness of Ryan Harris the tourists’ bowling unit suddenly looks significantly weaker.
If the likes of Ian Bell and Gary Ballance can rediscover their form, whilst Alastair Cook and Joe Root continue to churn out the runs, the threat of that dangerous bowling attack could be nullified somewhat. If not then an unhealthy over-reliance on certain players will undoubtedly hurt them.
Of course England’s bowlers will have to step up to the plate too. At times their attack has looked toothless but it has also shown flashes of brilliance. We will get a mixture of both this series, but if those flashes of brilliance can translate into something more substantial and consistent then anything is possible.
What is for certain is that Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson will have to lead from the front with Moeen Ali providing a significant supporting role.
Despite what some people say I believe this will be a closely contested series with endless swings of momentum. It won’t top 2005, it’s unlikely any Test series ever will, but we should be in for an absolute treat. The bags of quality on show for each side and England’s recent dominance on home soil means it genuinely could go either way, and that is why I’m happy to take a punt on a 2-1 win for both sides.
The 2015 Ashes – Australia to win 2-1 (17/2 SkyBet)
The 2015 Ashes – England to win 2-1 (16/1 SkyBet)
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