Ashes 2017: Could We Be Set For An Australian Whitewash?

News

English punters started lumping on their team to suffer an Ashes whitewash as soon as it was revealed that star player Ben Stokes would miss the series.

The talented all-rounder is under police investigation on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm during a brawl outside a nightclub and he has been suspended by the England and Wales Cricket Board. It threw England’s Ashes preparation into disarray and it sent pessimistic punters heading to betting sites. Oddschecker.com reported that 65% of correct score bets placed by Brits on the upcoming series have since gone on Australia winning 5-0. That would be a sensational result for home team, and recent history is in their favour.

Last time the Ashes were held Down Under, in the summer of 2013-14, Australia won it 5-0, and they could well capitalise on England’s woes to repeat the feat this time around. Stokes is arguably the best all-rounder in the business and he commanded a world record $2.85 million fee in the last IPL auction. He has been excellent with the bat, so he will be a huge loss in that department, but the impact it will have on England’s bowling could be even more damaging to the tourists. Stokes’ absence heaps a huge amount of pressure on Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson, who are both in the twilight of their careers and will struggle to play five games in a row.

Former Australia captain Steve Waugh, who saw his fair share of Ashes series during his long and supremely distinguished career, hit the nail on the head when he said: “If Stokes doesn’t come, I don’t think they can win the Ashes. I think Australia will win 3-1.” In the latest markets on cricket, Australia are just $1.47 to regain the Ashes, while England are out at $2.88 to retain the urn. Australia are not exactly excelling at present and they are below England in the world rankings, but they are more settled and, crucially, they benefit from home advantage. The home team has won the Ashes in seven of the last eight series, so that should give Australia plenty of confidence. The 5-0 annihilation England suffered four years ago will also weigh heavily on their minds, and they will be devastated by the loss of Stokes.

But it is unlikely that Australia will have it all their own way. After all, they drew their last series, against Bangladesh, and lost the previous one 2-1 in India, while England won the last Ashes series 3-2. The odds show that a 3-1 win to Australia, just as Waugh predicted, is most likely outcome. That is the $6 favourite in this market, followed by wins of 3-2 and 4-1 to Australia, both priced at $7.50. A 2-2 draw is next at odds of $8, and only then do you arrive at 5-0 to Australia, priced at a massive $10. The bookmakers clearly think Australia will win the Ashes, but they are predicting that England will make life difficult for them and prevent them from winning all five tests.

If you offered Australian fans a 3-2 win now, most would take it. England still have plenty of talent across their squad, from Anderson, Broad and Moeen Ali to Joe Root and Alastair Cook, and they will provide dangerous opposition in the upcoming series. However, many fans are still backing that 5-0 win, and Australia have whitewashed plenty of teams in recent years: since beating England 5-0, they have recorded whitewashes against Pakistan (twice), the West Indies and Sri Lanka. Passionate home fans will turn The Gabba into a cauldron of animosity and England will find it difficult in the first test, so Australia look a good bet at $1.80 to win that one. If they keep the momentum going then it could well turn into a whitewash, but right now 3-1 looks the more realistic final scoreline.

Latest