SPORTS

England with best chance yet Down Under

TAGs: Ashes, Australia, cricket, England, Ricky Ponting

australia-v-englandThe pranks likely won’t stop, the talking definitely won’t stop, and nor will the tabloid speculation as to who will win – and we’re not talking about the X Factor house.

An Ashes tour to Australia comes along once every three years and will be the defining moment of any England captaincy should they go on and actually win it. Losing never usually means that much to the English when they’re not on home soil, this time they’ll come back castigated by the country if they don’t win though. Beating the Aussies this time, feels like a must for Andy Strauss’ men and with the first test starting up tomorrow night what are the chances they can actually go through with it.

This much is true: Australia isn’t the chilling foreboding powerhouse that it once was. Shane Warne has retired to a life of gamblin’ drinkin’ and carryin’ on (oh, and commentating), who along with the retiring stalwart Glenn McGrath have left a huge void in the bowling attack. This was exposed in last summer’s Ashes series and will continue to be subject to the same attacks here.

What Australia does have is a captain, in Ricky Ponting, who is determined not to have his stellar reputation permanently stained by losing a home Ashes series. It doesn’t happen Down Under. The last time the visitors took home the urn followed the 1986-87 series and it wouldn’t be ridiculous to think that Ponting would sooner lie down and die than be defeated in the upcoming series.

Amongst the English optimists, most believe that there’s only Ponting, Simon Katich, Michael Clarke, and maybe amongst the bowlers Mitchell Johnson to worry about. It’s lucky this optimistic group doesn’t number anyone in the English administration. They know better than to underestimate the Aussies. Remember last time we jetted off to Oz – I’m sure Steven Harmison does more than most, and it had nothing to do with any drunken debauchery, just an incredibly wide start to the proceedings.

That might well be what the English players need worry about though. Imagine the euphoria that will grip “our boys” should they actually win a test match, and the abundance of beer available. This may well have been the hosts’ plan all along. Make sure there’s so much booze on offer they can’t refuse a couple, which then turns into a couple of dozen. What would the odds on the side turning up to the second day of a test still under the influence? I’d give a fair amount to see Kevin Pietersen turn up half-cut, but still smash sixes out of the ground all day long.

Betfred have seen a record turnover in betting on the series already, as spokesperson Mark Pearson explains: “We’ve not seen a bean for the Aussies and an England victory we’ll see us bookies hit for six. However we will still be cheering on the Three Lions and we wish Andrew Strauss and the boys all the best.

He then added: “A drawn series will be enough for England to retain the Ashes and we’ve had to cut the price to 5/6 after several lumpy four figure bets. As for the correct score England to win the series 2-1 is the most popular bet at 8/1.”

The series begins 12am Thursday, so make sure you get the Red Bulls in ready for a night up watching England spank the Aussies. That’s the plan anyway!

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