The Aussies are brimming with confidence after a comprehensive victory against an Essex side on Tuesday that included Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara. The tourists claimed a 179 run win where Cook managed just five runs although Bopara fared a lot better with a tally of 39.
Australia are a best price 19/20 (Sportingbet free bets) and they will be led into battle by Michael Clarke who demonstrated some excellent batting form in Chelmsford when amassing 76 runs from 73 balls and England will need to produce something special to win.
Opener Shane Watson has questioned whether England have the right balance ahead of this match, with the home team’s decision to play five bowlers meaning that the Baggy Greens will look to get stuck into the batting order.
“I suppose playing for out-and-out quick bowlers and one main spinner as well means if we’re able to make inroads into their batting line-up early it means they might be one batsman short,” Watson said. “That’s something that we see as very important for us to have success here, to try to make early inroads.
Watson is a 7/2 chance (Stan James £10 free bet) to score the most runs for his team although Clarke could be a good pick at 4/1 and perhaps even Matthew Wade could represent value at 8/1 (Paddy Power) considering he’s as short as 5/1 elsewhere.
England will have home advantage and perhaps we shouldn’t read too much into that Essex loss considering Cook and Bopara will be surrounded by the quality of their international team-mates.
The home side are even money with William Hill to enjoy a winning start, with England having a full-strength squad of 14 players and it will be interesting to see whether the balance of the batting order and bowlers is correct.
Ravi Bopara, Eoin Morgan and Craig Kieswetter are the potential sitting ducks if the openers go out early although Cook is a 7/2 chance to make amends for his poor knock on Tuesdayt, while Bopara played reasonably well and can be backed at 6/1.
Pat Cummins was the star bowler against Essex when taking three wickets and the 19-year-old will be desperate to be selected for this match, with tempting odds of 4/1 that he outperforms the ageing Brett Lee.
With the Aussies batting so well, it could be worth backing a couple of the tourists to enjoy the man of the match award and captain Michael Clarke might lead by example and claim the plaudits at odds of 4/1.