Australia to beat England in First Series win: 2 Points @ 19/20 with Coral
David Warner to be Top Australian Batsman (1st Test): 1 Point @ 7/2 generally.
The 2015 Ashes is finally upon us as England host the Aussies in a best of five Test series starting this Wednesday. The 2015 Ashes series is going to be an intense physical and mental battle and most of us will be hoping for a tight, tough series.
Many are predicting an Australian victory and that certainly looks the most likely outcome, but the English team have enjoyed a mini-resurgence in the lead up to this series after a good showing against New Zealand. Their confidence is high and they will definitely enjoy periods of play where they gain the upper hand over their old foe. The question will be if they can sustain that pressure for five full days to take twenty wickets and gain a victory.
There aren’t too many surprises to the team that has been selected to take on Australia in the first test in Cardiff. Alistair Cook will lead his men onto the field once again but any early failures will again heap pressure on his captaincy; it is vital that he starts the series well. Joe Root, Ian Bell and Gary Ballance will be important with the bat for the home side, while keeper Jos Buttler is always capable of taking a game away from his opposition. The interesting inclusion in the squad is leg spinner Adil Rashid who was not even part of the training squad that travelled to Spain for four days together. They clearly feel the pitch in Cardiff will take spin with Rashid included to provide options and support for all-rounder Moeen Ali. The familiar sight of Broad and Anderson will lead up the bowling attack, and at times will be devilishly difficult for the Aussie bats. All-rounder Ben Stokes is another match winner with both bat and ball, and will be one to watch for. Meanwhile youngster Mark Wood brings the X-factor.
Meanwhile the Australians arrive full of confidence after a comfortable Test series win against the West Indies and a perfect start in their two warm-up matches in the UK. Even though the Aussies haven’t named the starting team yet, Clarke has hinted at an all-pace attack that will no doubt feature the front line trio of Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazelwood. If these three perform, it will go a long way to securing an Australian victory. While the Aussie bowling looks strong, it’s the bat that has let them down in the past. Top and middle order collapses are what cost Australia the Ashes last time in England and they will be desperate to rectify that. All the talk has been about Steve Smith and his role at number three. So far he’s done nothing to suggest that he won’t continue to flourish in that role. His numbers have been outstanding; in all formats, against all opposition. While David Warner and skipper Michael Clarke will be craving runs, it’s a couple of other veterans who loom as important cogs in this line up. The aging Chris Rogers has been maintained in this team specifically to handle these conditions. Over two decades, Rogers has plundered County attacks in England so his experience will be crucial to blunt the new ball. The interesting decision surrounding the Aussie team will be with the all-rounder spot. Shane Watson is under immense pressure to hold his spot with Mitchell Marsh looking fit, scoring runs and taking wickets.
As far as the ground is concerned, just two matches have been played here before. One went right to the wire before a 10th wicket stand saved England and the game ended in a draw. The second had a result which saw England beat Sri Lanka by an innings and 14 runs in May 2011, a game famous for Sri Lanka’s last day collapse for just 82 runs in less than 25 overs. In an interview given by Keith Exton, the Glamorgan groundsman, he said that he does not expect a "sporting" pitch although there was a decent matting of grass left on the surface and the forecast of an overcast first morning could make the toss interesting. However, the weather is set fair and is expected to warm up during the weekend.
Verdict: Australia to win.
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