If one had looked at the result of the first test at The Gabba, they would have been forgiven for thinking it was a very bog standard Ashes opener down under. A 10 wicket win for Australia has them down in the driving seat ahead of the second test at Adelaide, the first day/night affair in the Ashes and one of very few day night Ashes tests to have taken place. Bookmakers have already been inundated with support for another Whitewash – which has been cut to 5/1 – whilst Australia are a best of 2/9 to take the series with Ladbrokes.
However, the first test winning margin – like so many – does nothing to tell the full story of the test, nor the advantageous positions that England had managed to work themselves into. England had Austalia at 76/4 and then 175/5 when chasing 302 in the first innings before Steve Smith (142), Shaun Marsh (51) and Pat Cummins (42) came to the rescue and then the early mastery of Josh Hazelwood, taking the wickets of three of England’s top four to turn the test on its head.
Steve Smith and the Australian bowlers, with a special mention for Nathan Lyon, once again proved to be the difference, but the overall performance from England was better than worst-case expectations. James Vince was in and set when brilliantly run out by Lyon on 83 (below); Mark Stoneman continued his good form with a 53 and David Malan was in good touch with a 56. Indeed, England had six individual scores of between 38 and 56 in the match, although no century.
There were long periods when England struggled badly in the field, with Ball and Woakes notably struggling, but the change in venue ought to suit them a lot here as we move to the Adelaide Oval. The pink Kookaburra ball, prone to a large amount of movement under the lights, will not only aid Ball and Woakes but prove to be a tremendous boost to Stuart Broad and James Anderson, who will get a lot more out of it than the red ball counterpart.
Anderson took three first innings wickets in the day/night test against the West Indies at Headingley, and the result was reversed in the second innings as England strolled to a comfortable win by an innings. They are facing better opposition who will be more prepared in batting terms, but they have attacked the Australian top order with results before and there’s no reason they can’t get themselves into a decent position once again.
Anderson’s skill and movement makes the 11/4 with Betfred on him being top first innings wicket taker looks worth a punt in what is so often a two horse race.
This all sounds rosy for England, but the issue is that this is nothing Australia aren’t prepared for. Infact, they have played three day/night tests, two of them here, and won all three, with their two Adelaide victories coming against South Africa and Pakistan.
Those matches contrasted to the usual Adelaide tests, where runs are the order of the day; When South Africa came they made 259-9 and 250 in last year’s defeat (Australia 383 and 127/3), and against New Zealand the game was even more low scoring; New Zealand made 202 and 208, Australia 224 and 187/7.
Josh Hazelwood has thrived in such conditions, taking 4-68 against South Africa last year and an astonishing nine wickets in the two innings against New Zealand, and comes here having dismissed three of England’s top four at The Gabba. The other lethal weapon that Australia had was Mitchell Starc, who cut England down to size by taking wickets against the tail and he can lead the first innings tally. He tied with Hazelwood twice at the Gabba but has a natural advantage in facing the tail at night.
Bet365 are offering player performance markets where players earn 1 point per run, 20 points per wicket, 10 points per catch, and 25 points per stumping, but with wickets potentially liable to fall in clusters and batsmen likely to be at a disadvantage, none make huge appeal.
A more interesting market is the Man Of The Match category, in which bowlers make appeal. Mitchell Starc and Stuart Broad have form for explosive spells in the Ashes, and they could be two to concentrate on, especially given that Broad can be handy with the bat.
It isn’t unreasonable to expect life to be hard for the batsmen and the 11/2 on no century is of interest. There was only one at The Gabba, and that was through Smith’s incredible effort, and both sets of bowlers will fancy themselves to have the whip hand over the opposite batting numbers.
1 pt James Anderson top English first-innings wicket-taker (11/4 Betfred)
1 pt No Century to be scored (11/2 Betfred)
1 pt Mitchell Starc top Australia first-innings wicket-taker (2/1 general)
1 pt Mitchell Starc Man Of The Match (15/2 Bet365)
1 pt Stuart Broad Man Of The Match (14/1 Bet365)