The Ashes – First Test

All the talk amongst cricket fans this summer focussed on the World Cup in England which was, eventually, won the by the host nation. They started as betting favourites in the one-day extravaganza and lived up to the expectations of bookmakers, although that success was not without drama.

England beat New Zealand at Lord’s in London to win the ICC Cricket World Cup for the first time, gaining the advantage in sudden death play following a tense draw in normal play. It was a day to remember for fans and the competition as a whole did wonders for the sport of cricket in Europe. No sooner had the dust settled on the Cricket World Cup, domestic fans moved onto the eagerly anticipated 2019 Ashes series.

Australia Was Out for Revenge

A very different challenge to the one England faced at the World Cup, it gave the hosts a chance to show they are the dominant side in all forms of the game but it was presented Australia with a unique opportunity to gain revenge for being eliminated from the cup by England at the semi-final stage, despite going in as defending champions.

The Aussies take their one day game very seriously and are a major force in the area, as was proven by their World Cup triumph last time and semi-final appearance this year, but there can be no doubting where their focus and talents lie. The Australians are traditionalists and rate Test Match cricket above all over forms of the game. It’s in that arena the players want to shine and it’s there fans want to see their side beat the sport’s biggest and best teams.

They don’t come any more important than the Ashes between England and Australia. It remains one of the biggest rivalries in world sport and the Ashes is fiercely contested on each occasion. It never matters which side goes in with the better form of who the betting favourites are to prevail, reputations and egos are left at the door as the giants of world cricket go toe-to-toe, desperate to secure the bragging rights and bring their opponents down a peg or two.

Cricket is seen as a game for gentlemen but that’s not always the case when these rivals face off and this year was no different with both teams making grand promises before the play even got underway. Who would back up the chat and come out on top in the first Test Match when things got serious on the opening day of August?

Bookies Allowed Punters to Have their Say

England went into the first Test Match on 1 August as favourites with all major bookmakers. That was to be expected but the fact the pre-match prices were competitive certainly caught a few off-guard. The belief was England, at home and coming in on the back of that World Cup win in the 50 overs format would be nailed on to get off to the perfect start, but that wasn’t the case. They were priced as the most likely winners but both sides were close in the betting.

That proved bookmakers didn’t quite know what to expect from this match. They knew England was a confident and talented bunch always keen to roll up their sleeves but they also knew their rivals Australia would be determined to fire back at the first opportunity, gaining revenge and proving they are still a force to be reckoned with on the big stage, especially in Test Match cricket.

Traders were happy enough to take up position on the fence and allow punters to make up their own mind. They set out their stall, offering competitive prices and challenging backers to make up their mind and put their money where their mouth is. Those who could separate the rivals fully deserved to bag a profit and it’s that kind of generosity that saw punters flood in, backing their opinions with cold, hard cash.

There was no lack of options for backers to get stuck into either. You could back the winner of the first test match or play one of the many specials bets, including top English batsman or bowler, top Australian run-scorer or top wicket-taker. Many of the most popular pre-match markets remained live throughout the course of the Test thanks to in-play betting. You could act quickly to ensure a nice price or wait until the form of both sides became apparent. A bet was as exciting on the final day of play as it was before the opener. In-play betting works fantastically well with live sport and it’s a real treat to bet on the Ashes as the play unfolds.

Five-Day Epic Battle

The first test of this year’s Ashes more than lived up to the hype, ending in a five-day epic battle that swung back and forth during the early exchanges. At the conclusion of play, it was Australia who got off to a winning start and they achieved it in some style too, handing out a bit of a hammering to their hosts, blowing the series race wide open in the process.

The final scoreboard read Australia 284 all out and 487-7 dec against England’s 374 all out and a miserable 146 all out. The tourists were declared winners by a margin of 251 runs and that sent ripples throughout English cricket. It didn’t come as a major surprise to see the Aussies nick the first test but what did catch everyone off guard was just how easily they achieved it. England is a talented team but rolled over, especially with that dire score of 146 all out. Their opponents fully deserved their victory, but they were hardly made to earn it by an England side who may just have been suffering from a World Cup hangover. That’s the only excuse shocked home fans could think of as they filed out of the stadium, barely believing what they had witnessed.

England went into the final day needing a massive performance just to secure a draw, but it was Aussie Nathan Lyon who finished as the best player on the park, head and shoulders above anything the English batting attack had to offer. He got right down the business, the off-spinner taking full advantage of a worn pitch to claim a strong 6-49. He helped push his side across the line for a first test win and a 1-0 series lead. It also ensured Australia made a little piece of history, becoming the first side to take an Ashes series lead in Britain in well over a decade.

Excuses can be made for why the home team played so poorly but they never looked like winning the match and were forced to throw up their hands and admit they were beaten by the better team on the day who wanted it more. England didn’t cover themselves in glory with that performance, but they will come back and be more competitive in the second test, that much can be taken for granted. Supporters will get themselves along to the second test demanding a reaction from the players. An outing similar to what we saw in the first five days of August simply wouldn’t be accepted and players know it. Will we see the reaction the paying public want?

Prepare For the Second Test Match

The second Test Match takes place at Lord’s in London and the fact that’s the same venue England won the World Cup in summer won’t be lost on players or punters. The hosts need a big performance to avoid going 2-0 down and if they could pick a venue to do that it would surely be Lord’s. Let’s see if the players respond and live up to the occasion.

The match gets underway on Wednesday 14 August live on Sky Sports and the coin toss is expected at around 11.00am GMT. Will we see another five-day marathon? It’s highly likely with neither side wishing to back down. England was well beaten last time out, will they bounce back enough to close the gap or will the Aussies, with the scent of blood in their nostrils finish the job and open up a 2-0 lead that won’t be beaten? Bookmakers have revised their prices on the back of that 1st Test Match and have thrown their support behind the visitors. Australia has been priced up at 6/5 and you’ll get that price at bet365. Interestingly, England also has the same price and those who expect the hosts to bounce back will also get the benefit of a 6/5 price. The draw has been written off as a 6/1 shot and you’ll get that price at bet365. That’s a market top offer, most firms closer to the 9/2 mark on the same bet. There still seems to be plenty in backing Australia and it’s a surprise to see bookmakers slow to pick up on just how good the visitors were in the first test.