The first Ashes Test between England and Australia begins at the SWALEC Stadium in Cardiff on Wednesday 8th July.

Recommendation

Australia to win the first Test at Evens Ladbrokes

Looking at the week’s weather forecasts, all the signs are that the game will be uninterrupted and played in fine weather. The pitch at the SWALEC is generally good for batting and indeed has been especially so in fine weather county games in 2015. A very dry pitch looks at least a strong possibility, and that has implications for team selection discussed below.

With a big staging fee to cover it is important for the host that this game goes five days.and maximizes revenues. They will prepare a pitch that increases the possibility of the game “going long”. Australia are certainly of the view that the hosts would avoid preparing fast bouncy wickets and is expecting a good batting pitch.

All this might suggest that we are looking at a possible draw. However in his pre-series Test Conference the new coach Trevor Bayliss expressed his opinion that England had been left behind in their test match approach, at a time when other sides are incorporating techniques and approaches seen in shorter form cricket, leading to faster strike rates and amassing totals quickly and this suggests some caution when looking for draws.

England announced their squad for first Ashes Test as follows:

Cook (c), Ali, Anderson, Ballance, Bell, Broad, Buttler, Finn, Lyth, Rashid, Root, Stokes, Wood

Expecting Finn to be left out, the sole decision appears to be Ali or Rashid or, as is increasingly being talked about, playing both spinners and not playing a seamer such as Wood. In great weather on a dry pitch the temptation to play both spinners must be high.

For Australia Ryan Harris has been ruled out of the tour with a re-occurrence of his knee problem so we can pencil in Josh Hazlewood. That leaves a tricky decision between Shane Watson and Mitch Marsh for the all rounder spot. It could well be that Marsh has moved ahead.

At the time of writing outright odds for the game are as follows

Australia Evens

Draw 5/2

England 3/1

Australia have had two warm up matches in great weather and come to the tour straight off two Test matches in the Caribbean so they are ready unlike some touring teams who arrive for a test series with little preparation.

The toss is going to be important here. If Australia win the toss and bat Evens looks a fantastic price.

What if England win the toss though? Here it gets trickier. Personally i wouldn’t be rushing to take the 3/1 as England will need 450+ to feel reasonably confident that the fast scoring Australian batsman couldn’t overhaul a first innings score and put pressure back on England.

I think 5/2 on the draw is skinny given the likely attacking intent of the teams and modern scoring rates.

The toss is at 10.30am BST on Wednesday morning

Selection: Australia to win the first Test at Evens Ladbrokes