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Proteas Set To Host Ashes Winners

South Africa are preparing for a home series against Australia, which gets underway next month. The first of three Tests begins on February 12 at the SuperSport Park in Centurion between two of the in-form teams in world cricket.

Later in the month, the sides will meet again at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth, while the Third Test takes place at Newlands in Cape Town.

Australia come into this series after winning the Ashes against their foes, England. They were successful in claiming the urn following a 5-0 whitewash scoreline on home soil, a result that surprised many betting pundits.

Michael Clarke’s men are currently involved in a one-day series before they travel across. Their first game in Africa will come against a South African Invitational XI, which will act as a warm-up tie before the opening Test.

The last time the two sides met in Test cricket was in 2012 in Australia as the Proteas came away with a 1-0 series win. The first two matches in Brisbane and Adelaide were both drawn, but they were successful in Perth to seal the series.

South Africa were also winners of their recent series against India. They played two matches against the visitors. In the First Test, they almost completed a world record chase but ran out of time in a draw. Their target was 458 in the second innings, in which they finished on 450/7.

They did though wrap up the series in a 10 wicket success in Durban in the Boxing Day Test. India were bowled out for 334 and 223, while the hosts made 500 in their opening innings and completed the job at 50/0 next time at the crease.

South Africa will start as the 4/5 favourites in the cricket betting to continue their unbeaten run in the format of the game.

England Struggle with Favourites Tag

 

England pushed their status as favourites for the Ashes to the limit on Sunday as they toiled under the Nottinghamshire sunshine to a 14-run victory in the first Test with Australia – despite being clear favourites heading into the game.

 

With more experience and better players at their disposal, Alastair Cook’s men were expected to bulldoze Australia and take the first Test with ease. Certainly, the Ashes betting odds suggested this match was a one-horse race but Australia proved their mettle and almost snuck a 1-0 lead.

 

The problem with England is that they do not cope well with the pressure of being favourites. Under Andrew Strauss, they won successive Ashes Tests, including a resounding 3-1 victory Down Under, yet since then the status has got to them.

 

Last summer, South Africa came to town hoping to steal the number one Test ranking from under Strauss’ nose. Amid a furore of controversy and poor performances, England lost the series 2-0, their ranking, their captain and their dignity – despite being favourites heading into the clash.

 

Fast forward four months and the same England (bar Strauss) headed to India, where they were clear underdogs in the online betting world. Maybe the pressure was off – after all no England team had won on the Indian subcontinent in 28 years – and Alastair Cook batted with freedom while his spinners did the job with the ball in hand.

 

Beating India was a huge coup for England and proved this squad has the capacity to take anyone, anywhere. Confidence was high heading into a tour of New Zealand yet it dissipated in an instant when the team lost Graeme Swann through injury.

 

Again, favourites England slipped up as they drew the series 0-0. Although they came back to defeat New Zealand at home in May, the fact they struggle to cope with the favourites tag is still a concern.

 

When the teams emerge from the Lords’ pavilion on Thursday, most fans who bet on the Ashes will have England down for the win – yet don’t be too certain against this plucky Australian side that almost caused a bowling collapse in the second innings.

 

Ashes Preview

The Ashes is a cricket trophy that is fiercely contested between England and Australia. There has always been a great rivalry between these great cricket nations, and whether it is before, during or after the Test Match the players always have plenty to say.

 

The Ashes series gets under way on Wednesday, with England taking on Australia at Trent Bridge. Here are some key numbers involved matches between the two at the ground:

20 - Number of Tests between England and Australia at Trent Bridge.

4 - Number of England wins.

7 - Number of Australia wins.

9 - Number of draws.

658-8 declared – England’s top innings total, 1938.

602-6 declared – Australia’s top innings total, 1989.

112 - England’s lowest innings total, 1921.

123 - Australia’s lowest innings total, 1953.

 

Key Stats:

James Anderson needs one wicket to go past Fred Trueman’s 307 into third place on his own amongst England all-time wicket-takers.

Ian Bell needs 75 runs to reach 6000 in Tests. He will be the 14th to do so for England.

Stuart Broad needs five wickets to reach 200 in Test cricket? He will be the 15th to reach this for England and the second youngest.

 

Top sledges during the ashes:

1 Mark Waugh to Jimmy Ormond on his Test debut, 2001: “Mate, what are you doing out here? There’s no way you’re good enough to play for England.” Ormond: “Maybe not, but at least I’m the best player in my own family.”

2 Merv Hughes to Graeme Hick et al: “Mate, if you just turn the bat over you’ll find the instructions on the other side.”

3 Hughes again: “Does your husband play cricket as well?”

4 Mike Atherton, on Merv Hughes: “I couldn’t work out what he was saying, except that every sledge ended with ‘arsewipe’.”

5 Dennis Lillee to Mike Gatting, 1994: “Hell, Gatt, move out of the way. I can’t see the stumps.”

6 Derek Randall to Lillee, after taking a glancing blow to the head: “No good hitting me there, mate, nothing to damage.”

7 Ian Healy, placing a fielder yards away at cover when Nasser Hussain was batting: “Let’s have you right under Nasser’s nose.”

8 Tony Greig, England’s South African-born captain, to the young David Hookes, 1977: “When are your balls going to drop, Sonny?” Hookes: “I don’t know, but at least I’m playing cricket for my own country.” Hookes hit Greig for five consecutive fours.

9 Rod Marsh, late Seventies: “How’s your wife and my kids?” Ian Botham: “The wife’s fine – the kids are retarded.”

10 Bill Woodfull, Australia’s captain in the Bodyline series of 1932-33, responding to Douglas Jardine’s complaint that a slip fielder had sworn at him: “All right, which one of you bastards called this bastard a bastard?”

11 In 2005 Ricky Ponting was chirping Michael Vaughan as he came to the crease. Vaughan turned around and said “Get back in the slips Ponting. Who do you think you are, Steve Waugh?”

12 Ian Healy to Mike Atherton after he failed to walk when nicking one behind “You edged that you fucking cheat” Atherton: “When in Rome, dear boy…”

 

Nick Compton to switch to Worcestershire

 

 

South African born and raised until his early teens, Nick Compton has been given permission to switch county sides in order to gain vital first-class practise against Australia ahead of the Ashes later next month.

 

The opener lost his place in the Test squad after disappointing outings against New Zealand this spring, England selectors instead opting for Joe Root alongside captain Alastair Cook.

 

With Compton out of the Test scene he quickly headed back to Somerset and hit a neat 81 in his first display against a touring Australia side. That innings proved to cricket betting pundits that Compton hasn’t lost his batting confidence and thankfully for England he’s been allowed a transfer to Worcestershire next week, to again face the Aussies.

 

In earning two practice matches against Australia before the Ashes, Compton has a great advantage over his batting rival for a place in the starting XI at Trent Bridge.

 

Root is his main adversary and almost certain to earn the call, but much relies on the Yorkshireman impressing during England’s warm-up with Essex this weekend. Even if Root does hit a century or two, he won’t have direct experience facing Australia’s bowling attack until that first delivery on 10 July.

 

Compton, meanwhile, will now receive two matches worth of experience against England’s opponents and that could sway a selection in his favour. It is gratifying to see the counties working so well together to ensure their England internationals are as prepared for Australia and even if Compton misses out on the first Test the competition will keep Root on his toes.

 

England are favourites in the cricket betting odds to win the Ashes this summer but they must not let that status lead to complacency. The team suffered that ignominy against South Africa last year and when touring New Zealand this spring, two Test results that proved how fragile the top order can be when lacking competition.

South Africa must Impress to make ICC Final

South Africa went into the ICC Champions Trophy as joint favourites to lift the title yet a stuttering performance in the group stage almost caused them an embarrassing early exit.

The Proteas have made the semi-finals and are very likely to face hosts England at the Oval on Wednesday, a clash that many cricket betting punters expected to witness one round later. Yet South Africa’s inefficiencies with the bat and ball means they slipped up and only made the knockout stage thanks to a reasonable 234/9 against Pakistan and a rain delay versus West Indies.

Their campaign did not get off to the best of starts as Morne Morkel and Ryan McLaren laboured against India’s openers, the Proteas attack conceding 127 runs before the first wicket. Shikhar Dhawan made South Africa toil until JP Duminy finally took his man, by which point India were well on their way to a 331 finish.

In return, Robin Petersen, AB de Villiers and McLaren all made half centuries but the spine of their order was just too weak against the Indian swing.

That 26-run defeat should have set alarm bells ringing in the SA dressing room and a comfortable 67-run victory over Pakistan was to be expected. In fact, a 230 total from just 31 overs was a respectable haul against West Indies, who are frequent favourites in the cricket betting odds, but South Africa faltered in their bowling and were lucky the rain came when it did.

Duminy almost cost his side the match after going 29 runs off three overs without a wicket for his troubles, while McLaren fared even worse. The 30-year-old was beaten all over before the rain came, recording a 10.73 economy from just 3.1 overs.

The points were eventually shared in Cardiff and South Africa scraped through to the semis thanks to a better net run rate. However, they will not be so lucky against England on Wednesday, for the hosts’ bowling attack ripped apart New Zealand and will do the same to this Proteas side that have offered so little this tournament.