Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

The Punter: Hit the bookies for six and back England for Ashes win

Australia's captain Ricky Ponting

Australia have not lost a Test match at the Gabba in Brisbane for 22 years but all things come to an end and cricket’s winds of change are certainly blowing against the Baggy Greens.

Ricky Ponting’s boys go into the 66th Ashes series with an appalling record of seven defeats in eight matches including three Tests.

A losing 2-0 tour in India was followed by a one-day series defeat on home soil by Sri Lanka.

Even hardened Aussie supporters can’t believe England are the outsiders at 7-4 with the hosts at evens from as short as 1-2 after losing in England just over a year ago.

If Andrew Strauss and his boys can avoid an initial defeat in the opening Gabba Test starting in the early hours of tomorrow morning, then England will be on the front foot to win Down Under for the first time since Mike Gatting did the business in 1986-87.

On that occasion England began with a win at the Gabba and are a big 2-1 to do so this time against out-of-form opponents who are also riddled with injury problems.

Of course the bookies are relying on the Aussie fighting spirit coming to the surface and the old adage that Australia is the hardest place in which to win a Test series.

True, but in the past Australia had strong all-round teams. This time they don’t.

It is the bowlers who will make or break this series and that is where England hold the upper hand.

The Aussies have not found an adequate replacement for Shane Warne, while it is England who have the key spinner this time in Graeme Swann who is 7-2 with Paddy Power to be the leading series wicket-taker and 5-4 to top the England list.

The home attack is led by Mitchell Johnston who can be unpredictable while the others are ordinary enough.

The English bowling attack is much stronger and in 21-year Middlesex paceman Steven Finn, they have a potential match-winner, aided by Stuart Broad, and James Anderson The trio should enjoy the green wicket prepared for tomorrow’s opener.

However, the bet that must be snapped up is the one offered by William Hill namely 10-11 England receiving a one win start which is the same as betting to retain the Ashes.

One punter has £250.000 with Ladbrokes on England to win the series.

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