England’s best weapon down under is likely to be their bowling attack, and if they are to win this series or retain the urn, then their fast bowlers will fire. They start at The Gabba tonight without Steven Finn, Toby Roland-Jones, and Jamie Porter but importantly they have two of the world’s best bowlers in James Anderson and Stuart Broad (below) and it’s those two who can lead the way in the wicket taking charts for England once again.
The markets have sussed their superiority over the rest of the field clearly, with Anderson favourite ahead of Broad, and the choice is basically down to whether one trusts the form of previous Ashes series or this summer more. The taker of that astonishing 8-15 at Trent Bridge in 2015, Broad has taken 84 wickets in 22 Ashes games, and led the England player standings for the last two series, taking 21 scalps on both occasions.
Anderson took 19 wickets against the West Indies – eight more than anyone else – and 20 wickets against South Africa, but these fast bouncy pitches lend themselves to Broad’s style as past evidence shows and he’s also the biggest of the two at nearly 3/1 and he makes appeal to not only top the English wicket-taking charts, but also the overall to boot.
Have another bite of the cherry by backing Moeen Ali, too. It’s a worry that he will be having his first cricket of the tour, but he was the top wicket-taker against South Africa in the summer and is sure to get plenty of work given the absence of Ben Stokes. Whilst often targeted by aggressive middle order batsmen, he has faced the tail plenty of times this summer and benefitted from that a lot against South Africa and to a point against the West Indies. He has experience in the Ashes, if not in Australia, but can expect to go well on pitches that Nathan Lyon has exploited in the past.
Lyon himself is interesting at 11/2. He took 23 wickets in four tests in the home series against India and then was joint top with James Pattinson in the series against the West Indies the following summer; In England two years ago he took 16, just below Josh Hazelwood and Mitchell Starc, and when England were whitewashed 5-0 he took 19, enough for third behind Mitchell Johnson.
Of the fast bowlers, Mitchell Starc is going to be very popular on his home turf, and his recent form (hat-tricks in both innings of the victory against Western Australia 8-73 in a day/night match against South Australia) makes him a fair favourite, but Josh Hazelwood looks value to be the best of the Australian pace bowlers.
In their last two home series, Hazelwood, able to control and move the Dukes and Kookaburra, has taken 17 wickets to Starc’s 15, and if he can stay fit then he will have a better chance than the market gives him of topping the wicket-taking charts.
Advice – Top Bowler
2 pts Josh Hazelwood (7/2 general)
1 pt each/way Stuart Broad (15/2 Unibet, 7/1 general)
1 pt each/way Nathan Lyon (10/1 Paddy Power, Betfair Sportsbook)
1 pt each/way Moeen Ali (16/1 SkyBet)
Advice – Top Australia Bowler
1 pt Josh Hazelwood (9/4 general)
1 pt each/way Nathan Lyon (11/2 Betfair, Paddy Power)
Advice – Top England Bowler
1 pt Stuart Broad (3/1 Stan James)
1 pt each/way Moeen Ali (13/2 SunBets)