Old enemies look primed for tight 50-over tussles
IT IS not an Ashes year but Australia are over in England for a five ODI series starting at Lord's on Saturday morning and bookmakers are clearly expecting the usual intense, keen battle as they cannot split the old enemies at 10-11 for the overall spoils. Hills though have the Aussies shading favouritism at 4-5 for game one.
Even with Kevin Pietersen now retired from limited-overs action, this stance is understandable as the Three Lions have won their last six ODIs - two against West Indies before the washout at Headingley on last Friday and four in the United Arab Emirates against Pakistan in February. They also won the series two years ago 3-2.
But Michael Clarke's revamped Gold and Greens have fizzed since touching down in the northern hemispshere, beating Leicestershire and Essex easily and reducing Ireland to 36-3 before the rain brought Belfast proceedings to an end and will be desperate to stop the streak of six straight centuries from an England ODI-opener. And they have the better long-term reputation for one-day success.
England 50-over captain Alastair Cook has three of those tons while Ian Bell reached three figures in his first game back for Pietersen at the top of the order at the Rose Bowl against the Windies 12 days ago. And they head the England series and game one top runscorer betting at 3-1 and 7-2 respectively.
Australia openers David Warner and Shane Watson also head their respective top batsman lists - at 7-2 (with Clarke) and 10-3 (without Clarke) - but are regarded as the more explosive pair.
Coral and Hills both make Australia 4-5 favourites to have the highest game one first 15 overs score and evens favourites to hit most sixes.
A century in the first game at Lord's is 6-4 - there wasn't one two years ago at the venue but there were four fifties including a 95 from Paul Collingwood.
Collingwood was one of four wickets for Shaun Tait but the Australia pace attack will comprise a perm of Brett Lee, James Pattinson, Pat Cummins, Ben Hilfenhaus, Mitchell Johnson and Clint McKay this time around.
Veteran Lee looks rejuvenated after a series of injuries and is a 7-2 favourite for most wickets at Lord's but he is certainly being rivalled for 90mph speed by youngsters Pattinson and Cummins if not a fit-again Johnson.
Spinner Graeme Swann and Cook's two totem quicks Stuart Broad and James Anderson are all 7-2 for most England wickets at Lord's.
Read Friday's RPSPORT for James Milton's England v Australia first ODI and series betting preview package and the latest Friends Life t20 and Sri Lanka v Pakistan advice