JOSH Healey (@joshhealey04) takes a look at Monday’s only T20 game between England and Australia.
England v Australia | Monday 15:00
After an outrageous Ashes series it’s time to focus on white ball cricket. Before the ODI series begins we head to Cardiff for a sole T20 match.
England’s squad is much similar to the one which beat New Zealand 3-2 in the ODI series as well as winning the only T20. The resting of Joe Root is prudent and although it pulls out the backbone of the batting line-up, the return of Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes adds skill and depth in both departments.
After World Cup glory, Australia are looking to ease in the next generation. Only eight players which participated in their WC campaign feature in this squad, with the likes of James Faulkner, Aaron Finch and Mitchell Johnson absent.
The match winner market immediately draws my attention in this encounter. The hosts are outsiders at 6/5, with the tourists a paltry 8/11. Is that a fair price, or are the bookies underestimating England?
First, consider that Cardiff is a happy hunting ground for the hosts. In Tests they have W2-D1 including the Ashes Test victory in July; in ODIs it’s W3-L1 including W2-L0 v Australia; and in T20s they are W2-L0 with two comfortable victories coming against Pakistan. Across all formats that’s W7-D1-L1 including W3-D1-L0 v Australia; pretty formidable.
Second, assess England’s T20 record on home soil. Although not exceptional, England are solid in their back yard having W14-L12 – a win rate of 53.85%. Contrast that with their away record – W21-L24 with a win rate of 46.67% – and it would appear they benefit from the home advantage.
Last, and by no means least, size up the teams themselves. The T20 format is renowned for levelling the playing field, and I believe it does just that in this encounter. Although Australia have the stars and seasoned campaigners, England have the exciting up-and-comers desperate to establish themselves on the international stage.
What particularly excites about this England side is the batting depth. With hitters all the way down to number 10, the Aussie bowlers will have their work cut out. Although the hosts’ bowling may not get the pulses racing to the same degree, it certainly has enough about it to trouble the tourists.
All in all, the 6/5 quote with Boylesports on a home win is good value worth taking. I feel England can pick up from where they left off against New Zealand, whereas, with a considerably different side to the one that won the World Cup, Australia may take a game or two to click into gear. The slightly unconvincing ODI victory over Ireland perhaps indicates that.
There’s another bet that offers even greater value though, in fact it’s some of the best value I’ve ever seen. Coral have set the sixes line at 11.5; on the surface that may seem normal given the quality of the two sides, but let’s look at the stats.
The 11.5 line has been breached in just 4/49 domestic T20s at Cardiff and in 0/2 international clashes. Combine the two and that means under 11.5 sixes has produced a win rate of 92.16% since 2003. It’s also worth considering this line has not been surpassed in any of the 10 ODIs here. (These stats only include fully completed games that have not been affected by the D/L method).
Despite the short straight boundaries, Cardiff is not renowned for high-scoring encounters. In the last three seasons the average first innings score is 146.44 (16 innings). Perhaps this goes some way to explaining the lack of maximums.
I’m not convinced we will get a great pitch here. Glamorgan’s head groundsman was recently axed as a consequence of producing a couple of horror wickets, so the assistant takes the reins for this match and the pressure is immediately on. Considering the scenario and Cardiff’s historic record, alongside the expected heavy cloud, it could be a day where the bowlers stand out.
That brings me onto a final, speculative punt – David Willey to claim man of the match at 14/1 with SkyBet. Willey shone with the ball on Finals Day, taking five wickets for just 51 runs. He’s been in sublime form this season and recalling the three wickets he claimed on IT20 debut v New Zealand reinforces my confidence in him at this level. Remember he notched eight wickets in four ODIs against the Blackcaps too.
As a notoriously explosive hitter, Willey has two strings to his bow. He’s yet to showcase these batting skills on the international stage due to being too low down the order, but that mind-blowing ton against Sussex in the T20 quarter-finals may prompt England to promote him, particularly if they are looking to kick on. Willey is a genuine match winner and if he comes off with either bat or ball, or ideally both, he can steal the show.
England v Australia – England to win (6/5 Boylesports)
England v Australia – Under 11.5 Sixes (5/6 William Hill)
England v Australia – David Willey Man of the Match (14/1 Skybet)