Cricket tips: Paddy’s ultimate betting preview for Australia v England in the Ashes

Our tipster Nick Tedesch delivers his comprehensive Ashes preview with a view from Down Under.

The Ashes 2021/22 tips preview

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* All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.

An Ashes series always heightens drama but there have been few series in the long and storied history of this rivalry, that is nearing 150 years in the making, that have been as dramatic, as tense and as highly strung as the long lead-in to this year’s matchup.

If there was betting on which Test captain was most likely to miss the series, England skipper Joe Root would have been exceptionally short odds after refusing to commit to the tour due to ongoing concerns about quarantine requirements. It is, of course, Tim Paine who will miss the series after being sacked as Australian captain and then taking leave from cricket indefinitely after being engulfed in a sexting scandal.

Paine, long regarded as a steady hand who was charged with restoring the integrity of Australian cricket following the infamous sandpaper scandal in South Africa, has thrown his team into turmoil after an old indiscretion was made public on the eve of the series. Former skipper Steve Smith was in the mix for a possible return to the top job before Pat Cummins was anointed the first bowler since Richie Benaud in 1964 to skipper the Australian Test team.

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The Ashes Urn

Root made a decision to Tour in early October and has helped settle an England team clearly concerned about potential quarantine restrictions around touring Australia. Moeen Ali retired but there will be no other boycotts of the Tour. Most importantly for England, Ben Stokes returns though he has endured a difficult tour, nearly choking on a tablet and then fearing a broken arm after being struck in the nets.

England’s top order has few injury concerns but the bowling stocks have certainly taken a blow with dangerous speedsters Jofra Archer and Olly Stone both missing the tour through injury. Paine is, of course, unavailable for Australia as is Will Pucovski while James Pattinson announced his retirement last month.

There is always plenty riding on an Ashes series and this is no exception. Australia managed to defend the urn with a drawn series on English soil in 2019 and look to make it three series on the trot where they have held the Ashes aloft for the first time since their eight straight series wins between 1989 and 2002-03.

Conditions are always central to any Ashes battle though and England’s will need to overcome some significant struggles on Australian wickets if they are to take the Ashes home. England have lost nine of the last 10 Tests in Australia with just a rain-affected draw in Melbourne on the last Tour their only respite.

Pat Cummins

After a long wait, the most iconic series in cricket and one of the most revered in sport is upon us. As we saw when Steve Harmison sent the first ball of the 2006-07 series to second slip, the action will be plentiful from beginning to end. Cricket truly does not get better.

The Result

Australia have dominated England on home soil over the last two series and are short odds to again relentlessly drive their opposition into the dust. This series though is not as cut and dried as betting markets would indicate with Australia a very short price.

The Tim Paine saga will no doubt loom large over the Australian team, as will the future of beleaguered Australian coach Justin Langer. Pat Cummins faces the tough task of being both strike bowler and skipper. Australia’s top-order is anything but settled. The invincibility of Australia at home is also long gone. Australia was thumped by India last summer and in 2018.

England have travelled reasonably well since the last Ashes series too. They lost 3-1 in India mid-year but prior swept Sri Lanka and won three of the last four Tests in South Africa in 2020. They bring plenty of youth to Australia to mix with some veterans who have performed well Down Under led by Root and Stokes.

Australia are expected to win the series and win it well but they have been way overvalued by the market. England can win Tests with the three East Coast Tests all winnable if the bowling can make inroads early. A drawn series or a narrow 3-2 Australian Series Win is the way to bet this series. At the prices I’ll side with the latter.

Marnus Labuschagne

The Runscorers

Marnus Labuschagne is one of the most consistent run accumulators in Test cricket and is excellent value to top the tally this Ashes series. Labuschagne averages 60 at Test level and notably has 15 scores of 50-plus from just 31 innings, an excellent consistency. He has topped 50 in four of seven innings against England and has scored 50-plus in 10 of his last 15 Tests innings in Australia.

Over that stretch he has five Test centuries. This Sheffield Shield season he sits third in the runs tally with 455 runs at 65. He’s good value to be both Australia and the series’ top runscorer.

On the England side, it is impossible to go past skipper Joe Root, who has been in irrepressible form in 2021. The England captain has been sublime at Test level with the willow this year.

Root has six centuries in 23 innings this year with four of those scores being 180 or larger. When Root gets a start he is very hard to dismiss and provides a scoring upside not seen with other English bats. Root has to be the pick for England’s top runscorer.

The Wicket takers

Australia’s bowling lineup is incredibly settled and the foursome will likely play all five Tests bar injury. The wildcard in this series is how the captaincy will impact Pat Cummins’ bowling. Will he give himself the ball more? Will he defer some and focus on his leadership? Indicators are it could be the latter.

No bowler has more upside than Mitchell Starc but his wild inconsistency always makes him a risk in these markets. Josh Hazlewood is the complete opposite, all line and length and consistency and reliability.

He looks an excellent bet to top the wicket count for both Australia and the series this summer. Hazlewood has hauls of four-plus wickets in seven of his last 10 Tests and has not had a series where he has averaged 30-plus since 2017-18.

Jimmy Anderson is favoured to top England’s wicket count in what will be his fifth Tour Down Under. He has hauls of 24, 14 and 17 on his last three Tours, averaging sub-27 twice. He is 39 years old though and it is going to be a long summer.

The smart play is to take firebrand Ollie Robinson, unquestionably the best fast bowler in England over the last 18 months. In just five Tests he already has 28 Test wickets at 19.60 and should be well-suited to Australian conditions. At the price on offer he represents plenty of value to be England’s leading wicket-taker.

Ashes 2021/22 tips

Australia to Win 3-2
Marnus Labuschagne Top Australian Runscorer
Marnus Labuschagne Top Series Runscorer
Joe Root Top England Runscorer
Josh Hazlewood Top Australian Wicket-taker
Josh Hazlewood Top Series Wicket-taker
Ollie Robinson Top England Wicket-taker

* All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.

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