The countdown is on to the Ashes and pessimistic cricket fans are overwhelmingly backing England to suffer another whitewash Down Under. News that Ben Stokes will miss the series was greeted with grim acceptance by England fans as he is the world’s best all-rounder and will be a huge loss to the team. Stokes has been suspended by the cricket board while he is investigated by police for causing actual bodily harm during a nightclub brawl. Without him the pressure will be mounted on the ageing James Anderson and Stuart Broad and England’s prospects of winning the series decreased sharply.
The majority of punters betting the correct score market for the 2017/18 Ashes series have gone for a 5-0 win to Australia. You can get odds of 10.0 with Bet365, 888 Sport, Betway and Bet Victor on Australia securing a whitewash and that is tempting many bettors. Of course, it finished 5-0 to Australia the last time England visited for the Ashes, as Alastair Cook’s side were humiliated in a series of one-sided matches. It could happen again, but Australia are not as strong as they were four years ago and it would be difficult for England to be as bad.
Since then England have regained the Ashes, winning the last series 3-2 on home soil, and they are third in the world test rankings, two places above the Aussies. They are in decent form: they beat the West Indies in their last series, even if the nature of the victory was underwhelming, and they impressed in beating South Africa before that. However, the 4-0 defeat in a five-game series in India earlier this year does not inspire much confidence. Stokes will be a huge miss as he is the world’s best all-rounder and could have made the difference Down Under. The selection for the team to tour Australia does not exactly get the pulses racing as you could argue it is the weakest batting line-up we have seen in a long time. Joe Root will fly the flag and Cook might have another strong series left in him, but beyond them runs look thin on the ground given Stokes’ absence. His loss will also be felt keenly in the bowling department as it puts a lot of impetus on Broad and Anderson. The loss of Toby Roland-Jones is a further blow and England will need a big series from Moeen Ali if they are to have a chance of retaining the Ashes.
Australia are heavy favourites to win the series, best priced at 4/7 with Sky Bet but 1/2 or lower with all other bookmakers, while England are out at 3-1. The Aussies are not exactly setting the world alight with their results of late and drew 1-1 with Bangladesh in their last series. Steve Smith and Josh Hazlewood are dealing with niggling injuries and might not make the opener, which takes place at The Gabba in Queensland on November 22. The hosts are 4/5 favourites to win it with Bet365, Unibet, 888 Sport and others and if they should start the series in aggressive fashion and put England on the back foot. If they win that one and keep the momentum going, England could be staring down the barrel of another whitewash. However, Australia have their own problems and it is unlikely they will win every match, so a 3-1 series win to the hosts might be a more likely outcome and the odds are attractive at 7.0 with Sun Bets and 6.0 with various others. England have the talent to at least win one and draw another. Or you could go totally crazy and take the 101.0 on offer at Betfred on England winning the series 5-0. It will never happen, but they said that about Leicester winning the Premiership.