It’s Ashes time and Ashes betting time. Most of what we saw of Australia at the Cricket World Cup– where most of it was good for the record- can pretty much go out of the window. It’s one of cricket’s great clichés but it’s also very true: Test cricket will always remain a different animal to the First Class game and a different species altogether to the white ball stuff: different players, rules, length, skills, clothing, requirements. Heck, it’s even a different ball.

 

This Ashes series could be a thrilling one and ripe for profits to be made from Ashes betting. You could make a good case for Australia having the edge over England with the bat and it being pretty evens-stevens with the ball. With that in mind, the 2.62 with Betway that Australia win the Ashes isn’t to be sniffed at, nor is the possibility of laying England at 2.06 on Betfair, with a tied series featuring at least one draw very much in the equation. But for all that to happen, these five Australian players will have to be at their best.

 

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Ashes Betting: Australia’s five key players

 

David Warner

Warner look a slightly changed man from the snarling, in-yer-face, stocky little irritant of pre-Sandpapergate. He looked distinctly calmer during the World Cup, the few occasions where he lost it was with himself for getting out or missing out on a poor ball. He finished just one run behind Rohit Sharma as the WC top scorer.

It was also notable how he took a bit longer to find his stride, though that is of course of less relevance in the Test arena.

21 centuries and 29 fifties from just 74 matches tell their own story but he hasn’t always been at his best in Ashes series, though his efforts in 2013 were decent, with 418 runs, making him Australia’s third-highest scorer for the series.

If Warner can avoid the temptation of going for his shots too early and handle the swinging ball, it would put Australia right on track. He’s a best price of 3.75 with Unibet to be Australia’s top batsman for the series.

 

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Steve Smith

Unlike Warner, Smith didn’t look like he was at his best at the World Cup, going up and down in the order as more aggressive players were often promoted ahead of him.

But then again, he’s always been a far better Test player anyway. How’s 55 as a Test average for you?

With a technique that makes you wonder how he gets to 30, let alone how he has over 6000 Test runs, it’s not often pretty. But it’s almost always highly effective. Sooner or later he’ll need to score 150-odd in an innings for Australia to win the match with patience, determination, good running and plenty of those trademark clips through mid-wicket. You wouldn’t bet against it and he may be better for the loss of the captaincy.

In Ashes betting, he’s a best price of 3.0 on the Betfair Exchange to be Australia’s top batsman for the series.

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Tim Paine

Holding onto catches is arguably more important in this format than any other. Cricket is littered with stories of the guy who was dropped on not that many and went on to make the most of his second life. Brian Lara, en route to making 501 for Warwickshire, for example.

But in addition to his glovework, Paine will have an important role to play batting at seven, because other than a determined and well-meaning Pat Cummins, there won’t be much to come after him.

Oh yeah, he’s also the captain. On his shoulders will team selection, bowling changes, fielding placements, deciding what to do at the toss and all the other million things that a captain has to do, lie.

Ashes betting has Australia at 2.6 with Royal Panda to win the First Test.

 

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Pat Cummins

Cummins is the ultimate bowler for all seasons. He can bowl on flat, slow pitches and take wickets.   He can bowl on green wickets and when they’re fast and bouncy, even better.

With his height he can generate extra bounce and he can swing it as well, though not quite as prodigiously as the likes of Mitchell Starc.

And it’s not just with the new ball that he’s so crucial. Games are won just as much with the old ball as the new and he’s pretty good with that one, as well.

Perhaps most important of all, he has brains. Maybe not the raw pace of Starc but he’s like Wasim Akram or – obviously in a completely different way- Shane Warne, in that he works out ways to get you out.

Starc, by the way, has struggled to make the transition from white ball cricket to red ball cricket in the build up to the Ashes and might not be picked for the 1st Test, also partly to do with the fact Australia have plenty of options available to them  if he’s not quite at his best.

More importantly, it makes Cummins an even better option to end as Australia’s top bowler at 3.75 with Betfair Sportsbook.

 

Nathan Lyon

The point about Lyon ahead of this Series isn’t so much that he’s the sort of match-winning spinner the way Muralitharan, Warne, Saqlain Mushtaq or to use more modern-day examples- Shakib Al-Hasan, Ravi Ashwin or Rashid Khan– are.

The point about Lyon is that he’s a hell of a lot better than anything that anything England have. The experiment with Adil Rashid last summer didn’t really work, Jack Leach made headlines for his brilliant knock with the bat as nightwatchman against Ireland but didn’t exactly impress with the ball so the hosts’ major spin option is as ever, Moeen Ali. Not a bad one but he’s not the specialist spinner Lyon is.

In a summer as hot as this one where the wickets will be dry and may start to take plenty of turn, Lyon could just be Australia’s trump card.

 

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