Cricket Betting: Australia v England – Ashes Second Test

Australia v England Ashes Second Test

Saturday December 2 — 2:30pm AEDT


Australia

Although they completed a comprehensive ten-wicket victory before lunch on the fifth day in Brisbane, it wasn’t all plain sailing for Australia who found themselves behind the game at various stages throughout the opening three days. After losing the toss and being asked to field first, the Aussies battled for penetration on a sluggish Gabba pitch as England reached 1/127, then 4/246 before slumping to 302 all out off the back of excellent bowling from Pat Cummins (3/85) and Nathan Lyon (2/78) who also executed a vital run out.

The hosts then made a poor start with the bat, limping to 4/76 before a superb 141 not out from captain Steve Smith lifted them to 328 when it looked certain they would face a first innings deficit. Smith did receive vital support from Shaun Marsh (51) and Cummins (42) in partnerships of 99 and 66 respectively. Any hope that England had of recapturing the ascendancy was thwarted when they were dismissed for just 195 in the third innings as Josh Hazlewood bounced back from an underwhelming first innings display to capture 3/46, while off-spinner Lyon maintained his hold over the tourists with 3/67.

Facing an awkward target of 170 to win, openers David Warner (87 not out) and debutant Cameron Bancroft (82 not out) ensured there would be no jitters as they cruised home without offering a single chance to the beleaguered English bowlers to put the hosts 1-0 up in the series. The only possible change to Australia’s starting XI would be the inclusion of home-grown swing specialist Chadd Sayers in place of the impressive Cummins, however there is some pressure on first-drop Usman Khawaja who will be hoping to overcome his recent troubles against slower bowlers, having perished to spinners in nine of his past 17 dismissals.


England

While England showed they can compete at the Gabba, they will also have identified some clear areas for improvement, starting with their batsmen’s inability to post a significant score after getting to 50. In the first innings it was the surprise trio of Mark Stoneman (53), James Vince (83) and Dawid Malan (56) who all raised the bat on their debuts in Australia, however the fact none of the three went on to post triple-figures played a big part in their failure to grasp control of the match from the outset.

Nevertheless when Australia came to bat they were incredibly disciplined with the ball and forced plenty of mistakes from the home side’s top-order as Stuart Broad once again enjoyed himself in Brisbane, capturing 3/49. However the concerns that arose out of Australia’s first innings was firstly the failure to trouble their captain Smith despite a vast array of plans being employed, while the form of rangy fast-bowler Jake Ball would also have made the visitors uneasy as he returned an unconvincing 1/77.

Still there’s no doubt that it was England’s second effort with the bat which put them firmly on the back foot as they failed to reach 200 despite the admittedly slow pitch providing little assistance to the bowlers. Skipper Joe Root showed promise with a classy 51, while Moeen Ali (40) and Jonny Bairstow (42) also failed to capitalise on encouraging starts as the visitors perished under the hot Queensland sun.

A failure to take any fourth-innings wickets may have also dented the English bowlers’ confidence, however the final margin of victory will be more a source of disappointment than anything else, given how tightly-fought the test was for the majority of the contest. Despite some erroneous speculation, key all-rounder Ben Stokes remains away from the squad, however paceman Craig Overton is a strong chance of replacing Ball as England look to square the series.


Adelaide Oval

This will be the third day-night test at the Adelaide Oval with Australia winning the first two after bowling first in each. Although neither match has been particularly high-scoring the pink ball appeared the cause the batsmen less trouble under lights last season with only 28% of wickets falling in the final session as opposed to 38% the year before. Also while it has historically been regarded as a batsman’s paradise, there have been only three draws in the past 19 tests at Adelaide.


Key Stats

  • Australia have now won their last five tests at home.
  • However Australia have failed to score 350 in their first innings in nine of their past 16 tests.
  • England have failed to win their past seven tests away from home.
  • However England have bowled the opposition out in their first innings for less than 250 in six of their past 15 tests.
  • There have been only three draws in the past 19 tests at the Adelaide Oval.

The Verdict

Australia will start the second test slightly warmer favourites than they did the first, while the draw price has been pushed out, meaning that England have also firmed marginally, though not as much as one might have expected.

There’s no doubt Australia deserve their favouritism, having overcome a few awkward positions at the Gabba to post a convincing ten-wicket win, however their opponents did manage to showcase some of their weaknesses which could be further exposed here in Adelaide. For a start their batting was shown to have a soft underbelly with a first innings effort held together almost entirely by their indefatigable captain on a surface that offered scant sideways movement.

A grassier Adelaide deck may suit the hosts’ stroke-players who will welcome the ball coming onto the bat more than it did in Brisbane, however it will also provide the challenge of greater seam movement. In the field the home side were more impressive, however amongst their pace battery Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood were both inconsistent, while the excellent Cummins may be swapped out for the untried Sayers. The Aussies may have come away from Brisbane with a victory but I cannot justify going in again on them at this price after a fragmented performance in the first test.

Whether England are good enough to take advantage of these deficiencies and address their own in the short time between tests is an entirely different question, however they should take heart from their efforts at the Gabba. The fact that six of their top seven got to 40 shows that they have a line-up capable of compiling match-winning totals, although their alarming surrender in their second dig cannot be completely overlooked.

However for me the bigger question mark still hangs over their bowling attack with a concerning reliance on Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad evident in the first test, although the likes of Chris Woakes and Ball, if retained, should be better for the run. I cannot say with requisite certainty that England will bounce back and square the series, however based on their performance in the series opener and the likely conditions, it would not surprise to see them trade decently shorter than starting price.

Although the draw did have its moments from a trading perspective in the first test there was plenty in its favour in Brisbane – namely inclement weather and a lethargic pitch that curtailed the run rate without offering noticeable assistance to the bowlers – and these factors will not be present in Adelaide.

Conversely rather than rain, there looks set to be cloud cover which will only aid the fast men looking to swing the pink ball, while the aforementioned pitch conditions should promote a faster tempo with regards to both runs and wickets. When you also consider that neither side have a strong record of playing out draws, we’ll be leaving this option well and truly alone.

In fact it is tempting to simply lay the draw, however there’s not a great return for opposing the stalemate at such a big price so instead we will focus our attention on the tourists. For the best part of three days England went toe-to-toe with the Aussies, proving that the hosts were far from invincible, while reinforcing that they contain enough skill and nous to enjoy some success on these shores.

With greater movement expected in the air and off the pitch, there should be no greater opportunity for Anderson, Broad and co to make further headway into the Australian top-order, while if their batsmen can convert their starts into some big scores then they will once again find themselves right in the match.

In any case I certainly expect the draw price to balloon out at some point and then of the two sides, England’s price is undoubtedly the more attractive. However the visitors’ inability to make the most of their chances in Brisbane coupled with a poor record on foreign soil has placed enough doubt in my mind not to be putting all my eggs in England’s basket so whilst I will begin by siding with the Three Lions at starting price, I will be looking to trade out and lock in some profit as I cannot completely trust them to get over the line.

Additionally if you are trading the match throughout, keep an eye out for any over-correction in the market against the batting side in the evening session where the perception of the ball swinging furiously under lights will likely be overestimated.


Betting Strategy

 BACK-TO-LAY England at 3.75 or bigger for 2 units (trade out at 2.25 or better)


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