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The opening Test of the 2013 Ashes was surprising in many ways. The Australians started it when they left out two players who were thought to be bankers for this series, David Warner and Nathan Lyon, and went instead with a man who had hardly played international cricket since the last Ashes in 2011, Steve Smith, and 19-year-old debutant Ashton Agar. Then there was the opening delivery of a series, a ball from James Pattinson that was so wide it almost rivalled Steve Harmison’s infamous delivery in 2006. And to cap it all off, there was the sight of Agar and the much-derided Philip Hughes breaking the world record for the 10th wicket partnership in Test cricket as Australia took a surprise first innings lead.
Then, of course, there were the controversies. Agar being given not out when he was clearly stumped, Jonathan Trott being adjudged leg before to a ball he hit, and Stuart Broad reprieved by an inattentive umpire when clearly edging to slip. Then the final, heartbreaking (for Australians) dismissal of Haddin with just fourteen needed for victory. But that is the beauty of the Ashes. Everything becomes magnified, every incident, every change of fortune seems to matter that little bit more. And the betting markets fluctuate accordingly.
Needing to chase the series, Australia can’t afford to leave Warner out for the second game, which starts at Lord’s on Thursday. The man most likely to make way is Ed Cowan. He looked completely out of sorts batting at number three instead of in his usual opening position and with Aussie coach Darren Lehmann having already hitched himself to Shane Watson and Chris Rogers as his opening pair it could be that Cowan’s part in this series is already played. If you’ve backed him to be the top Australian run scorer then now might be the time to look for an insurance bet, such as Rogers. He showed that he is a very good player in English conditions and at 11/2 with Ladbrokes he’s currently a great price.
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Lyon, on the other hand, may have to wait for his chance. Agar bowled pretty well at Trent Bridge, even though he only took a couple of wickets. None of the Aussie seamers did anything wrong, either, and the lack of experience of the back-ups (who have just two games between them at this level) suggests that only injury will see the visitors make a change and that includes bringing in Lyon as a second spinner. Again, if you’ve backed Lyon to be the top Aussie wicket taker then you need to find someone else and the tip here is definitely Peter Siddle, who with eight wickets in Nottingham is already three ahead of the field. Coral have him at 9/4, which is still a pretty good price and you should get behind him now.
From an England perspective, the temptation will be to play an unchanged side. Stuart Broad did pick up a shoulder injury which troubled him during the Australian first innings, but was able to take the new ball in their second, whilst Steven Finn was disappointing throughout. Lord’s is Finn’s home ground, though, so expect him to continue to hold off the challenge of Tim Bresnan there. The batting lineup is also likely to be unchanged; even though Joe Root’s debut as an opener wasn’t exactly impressive it isn’t in Andy Flower’s nature to make dramatic changes on the evidence of just one game.
England are now odds on to win the series in every market, so you can get better value for your sports betting picks by backing the correct series score. Even that market heavily favors England, but after the Australian showing in this game you’d have to fancy them to run the Poms closer than some of the markets are suggesting. Bwin have a 2-1 England win on offer at 12/1 and that, to my mind, looks a very likely result now.
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