The Ashes is a series of matches played between England and Australia in five-day, Test format.
Test cricket is the oldest format of international cricket. Matches are spread over a maximum of five days, with teams expected to bowl 90 overs each per day. Each team, made up of 11 players, has two innings batting and two innings bowling. The aim of the game is simple, whoever has the most runs wins.
Unlike in limited-overs formats, there are no restrictions on fielding positions – with the exception that no more than two players can be behind square on the legside at any point, though this law applies across cricket. There are also no restrictions on the number of overs each bowler can bowl in each innings.
There is much more leniency with balls delivered down leg side – in limited-overs cricket these would be automatically counted as wides – and bowlers can bowl more than one bouncer over shoulder height per over, unlike in the limited-overs game.
Should one team find themselves 200 or more runs ahead after both sides have completed their first innings, they can choose to enforce the follow-on, whereby the trailing team is asked to bat for a second time.
Captains can also declare either of their team’s innings closed at any time.
The game is much more a game of wits than List A and particularly T20 cricket, which involves plenty more luck. Scoring rates are much lower as batters are much more prone to being cautious at the wicket.
The game is played in whites rather than coloured clothing, and typically favoured by older supporters and those who value cricket’s longer-term heritage.
Ashes Cricket Teams
Only two teams are involved in an Ashes series – England and Australia – with the two countries generally taking turns in hosting and touring.
The first international Test cricket match took place in March 1877 between England and Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, with Australia winning by 45 runs but the games between the countries did not come to be known as The Ashes until 1882.
It was in that year that the Sporting Times, a British newspaper, published a satirical obituary of English cricket following Australia’s victory at The Oval – their first overseas.
The body of English cricket was said to have died at that moment and “the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia”.
Ahead of the next England tour of Australia, visiting captain Ivo Bligh announced that his team would “regain those Ashes” and the press jumped on the chance to use the phrase as a byword for the fierce rivalry.
When England did go and win that series, a group of Melbourne women presented Bligh with a ceremonial urn, the likeness of which is still contested for today.
Series in The Ashes typically consist of five Test matches, though there have been more and fewer on occasions. There have been 70 Ashes since 1882, with England winning 32 and Australia 33. There have been five draws.
Ashes Cricket Betting Odds types
Loosely defined, the bookmakers present what they consider to be the probability of a specific event occurring in the shape of their odds.
So, if they believe there to be a 66.6% chance of India beating Australia, the market will show as 1.50 for an India win. You put on $10 and get $15 in return, including your stake, if India win.
That odds format is then offered for a vast array of markets.
You can find a basic summary of the various types of markets available to customers below.
To win the match: Not much to add here. It’s a simple case of which side you’re backing to claim victory.
To win the toss: Itching for a bet before the match starts? Well, there’s a 50-50 chance to picking heads or tails.
Top team batsman: Here, you are trying to pick the player who will make the most runs from a certain team. For instance, you could pick Joe Root for England or Steve Smith for Australia during The Ashes.
1st over total runs: This bet is usually done in an over or under format. For instance, the bookmaker will place odds on more or fewer than 5.5 runs being scored in the first over. You just decide if you think it’s going to be a fast or slow start for the batsmen.
There are always a variety of market in-play as well, including the number of runs scored off the next ball or next over, presented as over/under odds (eg over 3.5 runs 1.40)
Test specific strategies
There are some areas of cricket betting which are particularly relevant to the Test format.
Total match runs: In Test cricket, there is the largest possibility of the total number of runs in a match being considerably higher or considerably lower than expected. Do your research, establish if there is good reason to think two teams are going to under or over-perform with the bat – the weather, the form, the head-to-head record, and look for the value in the markets
Betting on the draw: While you would never place money on a tie in limited-overs cricket, unless you were the fairest of fairweather gamblers, there is a real chance of ROI if you pick the right match as a draw in Test cricket. There are many fewer draws in modern Tests than there were in the 1950s – in fact, the 10-year average of just 18% is considerably down on 50 years previously, when the equivalent number was above 30%. But they still happen. And if you pick the right one – be it for an inclement weather forecast, a historically favourable pitch for batting on or two bowling attacks which are struggling to take wickets – you can make yourself money
Patience and waiting for your moment: Test matches are long and not for the punter who wants an injection of adrenaline. You are well advised to bide your time, monitor the markets during a game and look to establish when a flashpoint occurs that changes the dynamic. This could be a change in weather, an injury to a bowler or a batsman finding form. Wait and pick your moment, don’t be drawn into the first bet you see.
Home advantage: Though the ICC have attempted to rectify this in recent years, the trend continues – home teams win so much more often that away sides. This is down to knowledge of the pitch and favourable conditions as much as anything, but it is not as terminal as some might have you think. In fact, in the 2010s, more matches have been won by the away side than in any of the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Finding those away wins on overall match outcome markets can net you a tidy profit
Ashes specific betting strategies
When it comes to betting on the Ashes series, keep in mind the recent head-to-head record between the two teams. Since 2001, away wins for either country have been few and far between – in fact, the touring side has only won The Ashes once in nearly 20 years (England in 2010/11).
There did not seem to be much chance of Australia overturning that record when they saw Steve Smith and David Warner banned for a year for rubbing a ball with sandpaper during a cape against Cape Town in South Africa and the team’s form subsequently fall off a cliff.
However, things look different now. Warner and Smith are available again, the Test team bounced back from defeat by India at home and look a formidable proposition this summer, particularly with plenty of Aussies – Glenn Maxwell, James Pattinson and Marnus Labuschagne, for example – playing county cricket in England to acclimatise prior to the series.
Australia have typically fared poorly against the swinging, seaming ball in England, partly down to the fact that the ball played with in English Tests is different to that used Down Under. In England, a Dukes ball – which historically has a wider seam allowing for more potential movement off the pitch – is employed, whereas in Australia it’s the Kookaburra.
In 2019, though, the seams on the new batch of Dukes balls are narrower. England’s seam attack will not quite get the assistance they are used to from the pitch – and this has been obvious in some sizeable totals in the domestic competition’s early weeks. Think before you invest in cheap Australian wickets.
Live streaming in the US
Some bookmakers will carry live streams of matches on which you have wagered a bet but for full coverage of the action you’ll need a subscription platform.
Willow TV – the only 24-7 cricket channel in the US – is the place to go for live coverage of The Ashes. Subscriptions are available from around $10 per month.