Australian Victory In First Ashes Test A Surprise For Sportsbooks

By Dhanu Delphi on August 6, 2019

The bookies had England (1.97) as firm favourites for cricket bettors going into the first Ashes test. After all, they were playing at home, had a great team on paper and were facing an Australian team (2.50) that were trying to get their act together with the return of the three test discards from the ball tampering scandal. Namely, former captain Steve Smith, former vice-captain David Warner and his opening partner Cameron Bancroft.

Steve Smith – All Class

Australia won the toss, elected to bat and soon found themselves in a world of trouble. They lost wickets at both ends as Stuart Broad (5 wickets) and Chris Woakes (3 wickets) ran through the Australia batting lineup. The Aussies were struggling at 8-122 with Steve Smith leading the fight.

Smith found an able ally in the veteran, Peter Siddle. Together they put on an 88 run partnership to take Australia past the 200 score. When Siddle departed, Smith continued to fight with tail ender Nathan Lyon. The partnership added another 74 runs to take Australia to a respectable total of 284.

In forging these two lower order partnerships, Smith announced his return to test cricket in style by getting to a magnificent century. He finally got out on 144 to ensure that the Australia bowlers had something to defend.

Jimmy Anderson Injury Hurt England First Ashes Test

England suffered in both innings because they lost their main strike bowler in the opening hour of the first Ashes test. Jimmy Anderson, whose fitness had been under a cloud, sent down a total of 4 overs in the entire match due to a calf injury. His absence left England one bowler short and put a heavy burden on the rest of the attack.

Sportsbooks fix their odds without factoring in on-field injuries. Those punters who subsequently bet on England will be hugely disappointed at how it all played out in the end. Anderson’s absence in the first innings allowed Australia to get out of jail and fight back. His absence in the second innings put England under a lot of pressure. In many ways, it contributed to their defeat.

England Play Well In The First Innings

Rory Burns (133) hit a fantastic century in the first innings. Half centuries from Joe Root and Ben Stokes then took England to a total of 374, giving them a 90 run lead. Their task in the second innings was very clear; they needed to bowl Australia out cheaply. That’s because chasing down a score in excess of 200 on a 5th day pitch was always going to be too much of an ask.

Australia Player Better In Their Second Innings

Steve Smith continued where he left off in the first innings. He hit his second century in the match after putting together a good partnership with Matthew Wade. Smith then got out for an impressive 142. Meanwhile, Wade (110) hit an impressive century of just 143 balls to take the game away from England.

With Anderson out of the attack, England were depending heavily on Moeen Ali to bowl his off-spin and pick up wickets. Ali was not at his best with either bat or ball. This allowed Australia to declare and set England a target of 398.

Lyon And Cummins Clean England Up

England were left with the task of batting out the 5th day and securing a draw. They struggled against the guile and craft of Nathan Lyon, who showed England what a quality spinner can do on a turning track. Lyon picked up 6 wickets and broke the back of the England batting line-up. He received support from Pat Cummins, who took 4 wickets and helped Australia win the first Ashes test by an impressive 251 runs.

England will now be under pressure to bounce back in the second test, which starts on 14 Augus, and even the series.