World Cups capture the imagination of the public like few other events. Even the most casual football observer can be swept up in the excitement of a national team when the tournament only comes around once every four years.
What are the Ashes?
When it comes to cricket betting in England and Australia, the absolute pinnacle is the Ashes. So what are the Ashes and why is winning them such a big deal?
The Ashes is the longest-running series of test cricket still going in the game, with matches dating back as far as 1882. The Ashes themselves are those of a wooden bail from a game between the two in that year. Australia were at the time deemed inferior to England, who were the creators and protectors of the game, but they came to England and beat them on their first visit. The Ashes are the metaphorical remains of English cricket, which, according to a satirical newspaper article, had died that day.
Ever since then, England and Australia have battled it out for those Ashes and essentially the pride of English cricket, which rests within that famous little urn. A series of five test matches, played over a series of around six weeks between November and January, will decide the fate of the Ashes, with this year’s Ashes fixtures being played down under in Australia. The first test will take place in Brisbane, before the first ever day/night test in Ashes history in Adelaide, with the first use of the pink ball in a test between the two arch rivals. The final three tests at Perth, Melbourne and Sydney will be decisive.
With England currently holding the Ashes after winning 3-2 in England in 2015, they only need to draw the series this time around to retain the Ashes, but the Aussies are the favourite to regain the urn after having won 6 of the previous 7 series to have been played in Australia.
History and Memorable Moments from the Ashes
The Ashes have tended to be won in periods, with each side having had spells of dominance over the other.
After that infamous victory at the Oval in 1882, England went on a run of decisive victories, winning the first eight official series between the sides. The only other time that run of dominance has been matched was during a spell from 1989 to the turn of the century, when Australia went on a run of eight successive series victories themselves. That form coincided with the golden generation of Australian cricket, with the likes of the Waugh brothers, Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath at their peak.
It took until 2005 for England to regain the Ashes after that miserable period, in what was possibly the most memorable and exciting of series in the history of Ashes cricket. England had a golden generation of their own on the horizon, with players like Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff changing the face of English cricket. The hype before the series started only added to the excitement that ensued, with England at their highest ranking since last winning the urn, and having been on a run of excellent results between the previous series and this one in 2005.
The series was deemed the most exciting in Ashes history and for good reason. After Australia convincingly won the first test at Lords, there was the potential for another decisive Australian victory, with many of their players convinced their side would leave England with a 5-0 win. The second test was the most dramatic of the series, with England winning by just 2 runs after nearly having seen the Australian tail take the game away from them in one of the most dramatic finishes to a game that many cricket fans have ever seen. Australia survived the next test despite only having had a single wicket remaining at the end of day 5, but England finally took the lead with a 3 wicket victory in the fourth test, before sealing the series and the Ashes for the first time in 16 years with a draw in the final test. For anyone looking to understand cricket at its finest, as well as the drama and excitement that the Ashes cricket brings, then that series is the first place to start.
Other memorable moments include:
The famous ‘Botham’s Ashes’ series of 1981, when Ian Botham led England to come back and win the series 3-1 after three straight wins, with amazing performances with both the bat and the ball.
Australia’s greatest moment of recent times is most likely the series after losing in 2005. England went to Australia for the first time in years believing they had a chance to win down under, but left broken and battered after a 5-0 series defeat that reaffirmed Australia’s place at the top of the game. The series was the perfect swansong to the careers of the great Australian cricketers Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Justin Langer, but marked the last time the Ashes was won by the Australians before another 5-0 series win in 2014.
This series offers the potential for both sides to make more memorable moments and more history, with the series looking like being one of the closest in recent memory.
What to Expect from the Ashes 2017/18
The new series of the Ashes promises plenty, with the two sides well matched in all departments and with drama before the series already starting with the loss of Ben Stokes for England after a brawl at a nightclub. The two sides might not be quite the force as in previous series with England currently ranked 3rd and Australia only 5th, but the two teams are captained by the top two batsmen in the world at present in Joe Root and Steve Smith, who will be doing battle for the first time in an Ashes series.
Joe Root has only been captain for a short period of time, but has already led his side to some good results and without having lost any form himself with the bat. Steve Smith is the more experienced captain of the two and will believe his side hold the edge with the advantage of playing at home, where Australia have dominated for the last several decades, and with one of England’s key players absent in Ben Stokes.
Steve Smith has overseen the integration of a new generation of Australian cricketers, while the likes of David Warner and Nathan Lyon give the side a good blend of raw talent and age and experience on both sides of the ball. England do have some experience in the side, especially with the ball, with Stuart Broad and James Anderson having been a mainstay of the side a great period of success for the national team, while Alastair Cook continues to open the batting and provides a helpful ear for Root in his first Ashes series. Australia don’t have the same problems as England, but they do have injury concerns meaning the likes of Khawaja and Starc will be vital in their quest to regain the Ashes.
There isn’t huge depth in either side’s batting, with both sides looking far stronger with the ball than with the bat. That only lends itself to more exciting cricket, with smaller scores, more wickets, and a higher possibility of a result in each game. With so much inexperience in both the Australian and the English team, this is going to be one of the hardest Ashes series to call in recent memory.
Betting on the Ashes 2017/18
There are plenty of opportunities for betting on the Ashes and with the series fast approaching there will be more and more offers available as the bookies look to secure your interest ahead of a long series of twists and turns. The markets are starting to take shape and it seems the English betting companies are expecting the Australians to make home advantage count with a win despite England currently holding the Ashes so only needing a draw to retain them.
There are plenty of ways to bet on the Ashes, with markets ranging from simply betting on one side or another to win the series, betting on the correct score of the series, or backing certain players to be their team’s best batsman or bowler.
Betting odds: The Ashes betting odds currently have Australia at around the 1/2 mark at present to regain the Ashes from England, while another 5-0 whitewash for the Aussies is best priced at 11/1, which could be considered a good value bet considering that Australia have won two of the last three series down under by that scoreline, and that in spite of England having had improved teams during those series compared to years past. The Australian grounds provide an intimidating atmosphere for English players to play, with their fans providing amazing support from start to finish.
Backing certain players: Starc is the favourite to be the top bowler as the only fully fit fast bowler, but Pat Cummins has shown potential and has the pace to cause England problems on the notoriously fast and bouncy pitches in Australia and could be a better option at 3/1. Steve Smith is the favourite to top score for the Aussies, but both David Warner and Usman Khawaja have live chances.
Joe Root is the clear favourite to top score with the bat, but Alastair Cook has played his best series of cricket in Australia and might be the prudent bet in that market without the pressure of captaincy. Anderson and Broad are the leading players for England with the ball, but Chris Woakes is perhaps better suited to the Australian conditions and could be an excellent bet for top English bowler at 4/1.
Backing a team: For those looking to back England, you can find them at a best price of 10/3 to win the Ashes outright, or 15/8 to simply retain the Ashes either with a draw or a series win. Most of England’s victories over history have come by either a 3-1 or 2-1 scoreline, but with the bowling units of both sides strong, and with the Australian weather usually allowing for a full 5 days of cricket, a 3-2 win might be a better option at 19/1.
Whichever way you bet on the Ashes, make sure to choose from the top cricket bookmakers by using the reviews from our team and using the great offers and promotions on offer from Top 10 Sport Betting Sites to start giving yourself the advantage no matter who wins that famous urn. Whether you are a seasoned cricket fan or a novice who needs help understanding cricket and the Ashes, Top 10 Sports Betting Sites has the info and offers to help you beat the bookmakers during the Ashes in 2017.