Cricket betting tips and predictions for the 2019 Ashes series held in England. Australia are the current holders, can they retain the urn or can the hosts win it back?
2019 will go down in history as a glorious year for English cricket but they may struggle to follow up their World Cup win with an Ashes series victory over Australia.
While England’s one-day captain Eoin Morgan can rely on a settled and destructive top order, Joe Root’s Test batting unit remains vulnerable.
England couldn’t lay a glove on the Aussies in the 4-0 series defeat down under in 2017-18 and since then they have been bowled out for 58 in New Zealand, 77 in the West Indies and 85 in last week’s Test match against Ireland at Lord’s.
England recovered to win that game but their specialist batsmen were bailed out by nightwatchman Jack Leach, whose 92 was easily the highest score of the match.
England’s inability to tough it out against good bowling is a huge concern for this series. Australia’s Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and spinner Nathan Lyon all took 20-plus wickets in the 2017-18 Ashes and James Pattinson and Peter Siddle are classy understudy fast bowlers.
England, who suffered a shock series defeat in the Caribbean before their chaotic win over Ireland, have injury doubts over World Cup stars Mark Wood and Jofra Archer while James Anderson, now 37, cannot be relied on to play all five Tests.
England failed to win a match down under in the last Ashes series and their form in test matches hasn’t improved since then.
They have been bowled out for poor figures against New Zealand, West Indies and New Zealand. The top order can’t be trusted to carry the side on the batting front and Australia look a good bet to win the series.
Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes are superb operators in seam-friendly conditions, as they showed when bowling out Ireland for 38 at Lord’s, but in what should be a tight, low-scoring series, Australia 3-2 looks the correct-score value.
Given the fitness doubts over most of the other bowlers, Woakes is a tempting bet to be England’s top wicket-taker.
The Warwickshire man has a fine Test record at home, 60 wickets at an average of just under 22 and he tormented Australia in the World Cup semi-final, taking 3-20.
The first two Tests are at his home ground, Edgbaston, and Lord’s, where he has claimed 24 scalps in four Tests, so he could make a flying start to the series
Another World Cup hero, Ben Stokes, is worth backing to be England’s leading runscorer.
Stokes scored runs when England were up against it at the World Cup, most notably making an unbeaten 84 to set up the Super Over in the final against New Zealand.
His 89 against Australia at Lord’s was another high-class innings and he is one of England’s best players of quick bowling, scoring a century on a pacy Perth pitch in only his second Test in 2013.
England are still searching for a reliable top three and the chances are that Stokes will have an important role to play in the middle-order.
Australia’s build-up to the Ashes has been far from smooth but Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, the three players banned for ball-tampering in South Africa last year, are all back in the squad.
Opener Warner racked up the runs in the IPL and the World Cup but former captain Smith is the worthy favourite to top-score for the Aussies in his preferred Test format.
Smith’s last two Ashes series have yielded almost 1,200 runs in ten matches and, after a year out of the game, he will be determined to make headlines for the right reasons.
He top-scored with 85 in Australia’s World Cup semi-final defeat to England and the home bowlers can expect more punishment from the formidable right-hander in the Test matches.