Ashes Preview – First Test

England’s defence of the Ashes begins on Thursday in Brisbane with the First Test of the series.

It is England’s first trip Down Under since 2014, and they are the current holders of the Ashes Urn which they won back in 2015.

England have not won at The Gabba in over 30-years, and Australia have not lost at the venue since 1988 – so for an English success, they will have to over-turn recent form.

England captain Joe Root insists that his side are ready for battle.

“Even when we have been playing football in the warm-up, the intensity has stepped up,” Root said.

“We’re in a really good place. We just want to get out there now.”

Australian counterpart Steve Smith is looking to get off to a good start.

“The first Test match is going to be really important,” Smith said.

“We need to set the tone again and hopefully get them on a similar path to what we did in 2013.

“A few players were out here for that tour, and hopefully we can get them thinking the same way, open a few of those scars up as such, get them thinking ‘oh not this again’ and that kind of thought process.”

First Test
The Gabba, Brisbane

TEAM NEWS: Jake Ball has been preferred to Craig Overton to fill in for Ben Stokes’s continued absence from the tour. Australia are sweating on the fitness of opener David Warner and Shaun Marsh but both are expected to play.
Australia XI: Steve Smith (captain) David Warner (vice-captain), Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon
England XI: Joe Root (captain), James Anderson (vice-captain), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Dawid Malan, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes
KEY FACT: Australia have not lost since in Brisbane since the 1980s
MATCH ODDS: Australia 8/11 England 11/4 Draw 7/2

We spoke to BetFred’s Cricket trader Phil Crawford to get his view on the First Test

Australia are the favourites yes, the money has been evenly split at present but there has been patriotic money for England

We don’t see the toss as that important (10/11 either team for the toss) in this one, but whoever wins it will probably bat first

Overall series odds have been pretty constant – Australia at around the 8/11 mark – England around 3/1 and the Draw about 7/2

One bet I would pick out before the Test, is that I fancy Chris Woakes to be Top England Wicket Taker at around the 3/1 mark

Our Cricket expert Richard Waite, a former player and now a highly regarded coach, is currently Hong Kong women’s and development coach

I feel that whoever wins the toss will bat first. If England can get through the first two sessions they can put all the pressure on Australia.

England need 375 or more. Stoneman is the man that can take the fight to the Aussies with Cook batting through. It is tough to call but I am certain the test will not last 5 days unless the weather plays a part. England to win late on day 4.

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