Australia v England Preview, Stats and Betting Tips, Thursday 23rd November, The Gabba, Brisbane, Starts: Midnight UK time

The 2017-18 Ashes series gets underway in the early hours of Thursday morning, with England looking to retain the urn down under. That’s only happened once since the start of the 90s, with the hosts pulling off a whitewash four years ago. Just how will England fare in the opening test in Brisbane?

Australia v England Head to Head Record

  • Australia beat England by an innings and 46 runs – 20th August 2015, The Oval
  • England beat Australia by an inning and 78 runs – 10th August 2015, Trent Bridge
  • England beat Australia by eight wickets – 29th July 2015, Edgbaston
  • Australia beat England by 405 runs – 16th July 2015, Lord’s
  • England beat Australia by 169 runs – 8th July 2015, Sophia Gardens

Australia v England Preview

England don’t have the great touring record in Australia, and the bookmakers are clear about who they’re favouring ahead of the 70th series. Australia have been made 2/5 favourites with Coral to win the ashes, while it’s 3/1 with Betfred for them to retain them through a draw.

England won a series down under for the first time in 24 years back in 2011, and they’ve been made 7/2 outsiders with Coral to beat Australia in their own back garden for the second time in a decade. That’s something they’ve been waiting since 1979 to achieve.

There’s a huge sense that history is against England ahead of this test – and it’s hard not to go along with that. This is a ground where England have had some painful memories, while it’s one which tends to play to the hosts’ favour. Australia haven’t lost at the Gabba since 1988, while they’ve lost just eight of their previous 59 tests here. To be honest, it’s hard to see why they’d bother playing anywhere else.

England fans could be excused for simply wanting to get this opening test out of the way, seeing as they’ve not won here since the mid-80s. Five defeats and two draws have followed since, and the bookies are expecting another home win at the The Gabbatoir this week.

The interesting thing here is that both sides come in under a cloud. They have both had selection worries, and neither seem to be entirely confident about their line-ups at this stage. England are bringing an inexperienced squad, while there are big question marks around the decisions Cricket Australia have made before the test in Brisbane, with six players who featured in September’s win over Bangladesh missing out this week.

Relevant Stats, Injuries and Suspensions

The obvious absentee here is Ben Stokes, who is stuck watching the test at home. He’s set to stay there through the series, and that’s going to be something which England will come back to over the course of their winter in Australia. The Ashes holders are taking two newcomers with them, as Ben Foakes and Craig Overton are included for the first time. With England’s squad selection the big talking point, that discussion always seems to drift back to Stokes.

Losing Stokes is a blow to England’s batting attack, and it could see the hosts continue a recent trend. They’ve had a player post a score in the 90s in their first innings in each of the last three opening tests in an Ashes series. However, none of those three – Chris Rodgers, Brad Haddin and Aston Agar – made it to the 100 mark. Given that statistic, it might be worthwhile opposing a century from the hosts when they take to the crease this week, even though England’s attack has taken a hit before the series has even begun.

Australia v England Tips

For us, it’s hard to see past the hosts taking a victory here. Their record at the Gabba speaks for itself, and recent years have seen a swing towards the hosts. The last three Ashes openers have been taken by the home side. With both coming in to this series with issues, home advantage might just be the difference maker; along with the pace of the Australian attack.

We think the confidence stemming from such a good home record will build up the hosts going in to this test, and we’re backing them to edge it. While we think they should have been a little bigger priced, we’re going with Australia to win the first test at 4/5 with Betfair.