The seemingly troubled nature of their Ashes build up has forced the Australians into the hasty decision to replace coach Micky Arthur with Darren Lehmann. Without going into the relative merits of each coach, as I have little or no experience of both, the striking thing is the contrasting persona involved.
It happens so often I sport, that in the short-term, players respond to a fresh and different approach as if given a new lease of life.
In making such a decision, they have given themselves the best chance of winning back the Ashes. That said, I still think it is a slim chance.
England look stronger in all departments, have had a smooth preparation, and have pivotal players Kevin Pietersen and Graeme Swann back fit. The Aussies will be tough to beat, as they always are, but I fully expect England to win the series, and at a best priced 2/5 with Paddy Power and Skybet, this wouldn’t make huge appeal for anyone wanting a bet.
If we can trust the long range weather forecast then we are in for a sun-drenched few months, which I’m sure will please the England camp as it means Graeme Swann will have increased potency against the Aussie left handers (and so too the right handers). Pitches will be drier, particularly at Old Trafford and the Oval, where it can turn prodigiously.
If James Anderson wasn’t such a fine bowler with new and old ball then the general 11/4 about Graeme Swann for top England bowler would make some appeal. But as such, it is hard to pick between them, with Anderson a best priced 2/1 with Ladbrokes.
The dry conditions may just allow the Australian off-spinner Nathan Lyon to come to the fore, and while the pacemen James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle are decent performers, I can see Lyon bowling above expectations. At 13/2 with Paddy Power to be Australian top bowler, he makes some appeal.
Rather than try and pick one of the England batsmen to emerge as top run getter, as they all look ready to excel, the 6/4 with Paddy Power about there being a double century scored by anyone in the series looks tempting. It would more than likely be an Englishman notching up 200, but in Michael Clarke, Shane Watson and Chris Rogers the Aussies have three men capable of doing it also.
We are set fair for a cracking summer of sport, and the Ashes could just be the highlight. Enjoy!
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