All the pre-series hype ends at around midnight British time on Wednesday night when the first ball is bowled in the Ashes series. The Gabba in Brisbane is the venue for the first Test and it’s been aptly nicknamed “The Gabbatoir” in the build-up, such has been the home side’s dominance at the ground in recent years.
It’s been almost 30 years since an Australian side lost a Test match in Brisbane and England haven’t won there since Mike Gatting’s successful tour back in 1986. Other memories of the ground include Steve Harmison’s wayward first ball in the 2006/07 series and Mitchell Johnson’s spell of dominance in the last series where he caused what’s known Down Under as “mental disintegration” on the English batsmen.
It’s a different series this time around though as there are few survivors on both sides from the last series in Australia four years ago. There is also real hope for England, despite the loss of Ben Stokes due to an off-field issue. The teams are much closer than first thought, with the Australian selectors having made some odd choices in picking batsmen for the series, while England themselves have questions over their own batting order. Australia are arguably stronger in the bowling department, with Mitchell Starc having bagged two hat-tricks in the same game recently. Their weakness though is that all three pace bowlers come into the series with injury doubts, something that England don’t currently have.
It promises to be a compelling series for fans wanting to pull an all-nighter and watch some top cricket over the next couple of months!
Ashes First Test Predictions
On England’s last successful tour of Australia in 2010/11, England scraped a draw in the game which boosted confidence for the rest of the series. However, last time around, England got battered and bruised by Mitchell Johnson in Brisbane which dented morale for the other four games. A good start is essential for a successful tour and a draw here isn’t out of the question if England get runs on the board.
Ashes First Test Betting Tips
- Australia to win the 1st Test: 2/3
- Draw: 7/2
- England to win the 1st Test: 53/20
- Jonny Bairstow to be top England batsman: 7/1
- Mitchell Starc to be top Australia bowler: 6/4
Head to Head
- The two teams have played in 340 Test matches dating back to 1877.
- Australia lead the head-to-head 140-108, but in Australia, this record is even more in favour of the home side who lead by 91-57.
- Australia are on a four-match winning streak at The Gabba, but they haven’t lost a Test in Brisbane since losing to the West Indies back in 1988. Since then, Australia have won 21, drawn seven and lost none there.
- England haven’t won in Brisbane since 1986.
- England hold the Ashes, having won their last series 3-2 at home.
- In 162 series played in Australia, the home side has won 82 (50.6%), lost 56 (34.6%) and drawn 24 (14.8%).
- England have lost 5-0 in two of their last three tours to Australia.
Australia Team News
Australia have sprung a few surprises when it comes to selection, with the inclusion of wicket-keeper Tim Paine, who hasn’t played a Test in seven years and also hasn’t kept wicket for his state this season.
In addition to the selection of Paine, there was also debate over Shaun Marsh’s inclusion over other potential options at six, including the more extravagant Glenn Maxwell.
The selectors have opted for a fearsome four-pronged bowling attack in the form of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon, while Steve Smith will likely bowl some part-time leg spin.
Probable Australia Team:
David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon
England Team News
Like Australia, England also have a few questions when it comes to their batting line-up. Mark Stoneman is the latest batsman tasked with opening with Alastair Cook, while James Vince has been recalled to bat at three.
Dawid Malan bats at five, while Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali have been moved up the order to cover for the absent Ben Stokes. The bowlers include James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes and Jake Ball.
England Team: Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Joe Root, Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Jake Ball, Stuart Broad, James Anderson