Ben Stokes led England to a famous win in the 1st Test against New Zealand at Lords earlier in the week and I wonder have a side ever come back from 30/4 in the first innings when the opposition at one stage were 403/3 in reply?
Captain Cook’s boys are 13/10 at BetVictor to win the 2nd Test which starts at Headingley on Friday with the Black Caps and the draw both priced at 11/5.
Brendan McCullum’s side will come roaring back at the hosts but the English middle order looked very strong at Lords and any side that has the mercurial Moeen Ali at eight must have some batting line-up.
With Mitchell Johnson struggling for form in the IPL perhaps the forthcoming Ashes series is not the shoe-in for the Baggy Greens some would have us believe.
We have pushed Australia out to a best price 4/9 to win the series which starts in Cardiff in July with England 3s and a drawn series 6/1; if Stokes can be kept injury-free throughout the summer, who knows; perhaps his shameful omission from the World Cup squad down under earlier in the year was a blessing in disguise.
I wonder what Eoin Morgan and the ODI selectors must think now after their dismal showing in the 50-over format. It goes without saying this is a big game for Yorkshire skipper Adam Lyth who is 5/1 to be the top-scorer in the England first innings on his home ground with Joe Root 7/2 favourite.
The much-vaunted Black Caps batting looked fragile on the final day at Lords and, at the moment, it looks as if a good straight one will catch Ross Taylor lbw given he constantly played across and around his front pad in the first Test. A draw is no good for the visitors and I wonder if they will be forced to push too hard; one thing the first Test has highlighted is the nonsense of only having a two Test series against New Zealand.
The Lords game was without doubt one of the greatest in the history of Test cricket.
Can the Ashes bring the same drama?
Arsenal are ½ to retain the FA Cup at Wembley in 90 minutes and 2/7 to lift the Trophy (includes extra time and penalties). The Gunners are likely to play Theo Walcott up front after his hat-trick against West Brom at the Emirates last weekend and the England international will certainly be fresher than most.
Walcott is 7/1 to score the opener and that is too big if he gets the nod instead of the admirable but limited Olivier Giroud who looked jaded against Sunderland last week and was a yard off the pace. Walcott earned the Gunners a point at Old Trafford before his Baggies’ treble and I would be surprised if he didn’t get the vote.
Walcott has pleaded with Wenger to play him down the middle; this is his big chance.
We will refund losing bets on selected markets as promo cash up to a maximum of £10 if the game is decided on penalties but I don’t think it will go the distance.
Villa were spanked by Saints in their last away game before succumbing to Burnley at home when they had the chance to exorcise that St Mary’s embarrassment.
If the Gunners score first Villa could get overrun and suddenly that 2-1 victory over Liverpool in the semi-final doesn’t look as impressive as it did at the time.
Arsenal halftime/fulltime is 13/10 at BetVictor and that must be the bet with Arsenal 3-0 21/2 and 3-1 12/1 the recommended correct scores in what could be a long night for the Villa.
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