THE first Ashes Test is done and a clean sweep is still on the cards – but not for Australia.
While all the pre-series talk focused on the Aussies’ chances of securing a second straight whitewash, it was the home side who walked away from Sophia Gardens with a 1-0 lead in the 2015 Ashes.
That dominant 169-run victory has had a massive effect on the series betting odds.
England were $5 outsiders to win back the Urn, but now their price has dropped to just $2.10 at CrownBet.com.
Australia, meanwhile, have floated out to $2.88 at Sportsbet.com, having started the series as tearaway $1.36 favourites.
There have also been some big chances in the series run-scoring and wicket-taking markets.
With innings of 134 and 60 at Cardiff, Joe Root has firmed to $1.72 (Sportsbet) to top the batting charts for England come the end of Ashes 2015.
There is also a little bit of money coming in for Ian Bell ($9 at Bet365.com), who played himself into some very promising form with 60 off 89 balls in the second innings.
Even though Steven Smith only managed a pair of 33s in the first Test, online bookmaker Sportsbet.com has the first drop as $3.50 favourite to lead Australia’s run-making tables for the series.
There is less love for David Warner, however, with the Aussie opener moving out to $5 at Bet365.com.
Despite renewed calls to axe Shane Watson and Brad Haddin, the biggest casualty of the first Test was Mitchell Johnson – the man of the series when these teams last met in five-day cricket.
Having tormented the English batsmen on his way to 37 wickets in 2013-14, the left-arm quick returned match figures of 2/180 as Root and company dispatched him to all corners of Swalec Stadium.
That disappointing performance has seen Johnson, one of the pre-series favourites, jump out to $6.50 in the 2015 Ashes betting for top Australian wicket-taker.
The new frontrunner is Mitchell Starc ($2.40 at Bet365), who managed seven wickets for the match despite struggling with his line and length for long spells.
The New South Welshman also appeared to suffer from a side strain throughout the match, but recent rumblings out of the Australian camp suggest he will be fit for the second Test in London.
“He was in discomfort while bowling but since then has improved significantly,” said Alex Kountouris, the team’s physiotherapist.
“We will monitor him over the next few days but the plan is for him to take part in some light training and we’re hopeful he will be available for selection for the second Test.”
Despite their woes in Wales, the visitors are just ahead in the match betting for the Lord’s Test which kicks off this Thursday, July 16.
Internet bookmaker Bet365 has Australia at $2.50 to level the series in London, while WilliamHill.com is offering $2.80 on England to extend their series lead to 2-0.
2015 Ashes futures betting tips
Series result – Australia ($2.88 at Sportsbet.com)
The loss at Sophia Gardens has seen the visitors’ price more than double in the series betting markets. If there is ever a time to get on the Aussies, it’s right now.
Correct score – Australia 3-1 ($8.50 at www.Luxbet.com)
A 3-1 victory to the Baggy Greens was a popular choice before the series started, and it is still very much on the cards. You will get better value now, though, as most cricket betting sites were offering $7 or less in the lead up to Cardiff.
Player of the series – Mitchell Starc ($8 at Sportsbet)
While sometimes wayward with the red ball, Starc is an absolute nightmare when he gets it right. That obvious room for improvement makes him a solid speculative bet for the MOTS award. Also, Ryan Harris’ retirement should see him get an extended run in the first XI, provided his body holds up.
Top series runscorer bets
England – Ian Bell ($9 at www.Bet365.com): ‘The Sherminator’ came into this series with his head on the chopping block. But his confidence grew with every shot in the second innings at Cardiff, and he could be a good smokey to pip the golden boy, Root, in England’s batting tables.
Australia – Steve Smith ($3.50 at Sportsbet): The world’s number one Test batsman failed to capitalise on some good starts in the first Test. But neither did his teammates, so Smith remains the best bet to top Australia’s run charts.
Best odds for most series wickets
England – James Anderson ($3.50 at Sportsbet.com): He may have played the supporting role to Stuart Broad’s lead in the first Test, but Anderson remains England’s most potent swing bowler. Don’t expect to see any more wicketless innings from him.
Australia – Mitch Starc ($2.40 at Sportsbet): He already has seven on the board, thanks to a first-innings haul of 5/114 at the Swalec. With Johnson struggling and Harris gone, Starc is Australia’s dangerman.
Upcoming Ashes Test fixtures
Second Test: July 16-20 at Lord’s, London
England – $2.80 at William Hill
Draw – $3.65 at Sportsbet.com
Australia – $2.50 at www.Bet365.com
Third Test: July 29-August 2 at Edgbaston, Birmingham
Fourth Test: August 6-10 at Trent Bridge, Nottingham
Fifth Test: August 20-24 at Kennington Oval, London
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