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Wednesday, 16 January, 2019

Bookies on back foot after England collapse

Australia cut to 5-1 for series whitewash

England captain Joe Root must pick himself up for the Adelaide Test
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The prospect of a costly payout on a 5-0 Australia win is looming larger for bookmakers after the Ashes hosts completed a ten-wicket victory in the first Test in Brisbane.

Openers David Warner and Cameron Bancroft had done most of the hard work on day four, closing on 114-0 in pursuit of 170, and England were unable to dismiss either man on the final day.

Warner finished on 87 not out with Bancroft unbeaten on 82 but the debutant's post-match press conference focused on bizarre reports that he had received a friendly headbutt from Jonny Bairstow during a night out at the start of England's tour.

England have enough on-field issues to overcome without dealing with those kind of distractions and the 5-0 whitewash is now a 5-1 chance, having been 8-1 before the first Test.

Australia are 1-5 to win the series with England 8-1, from 17-5 before the toss at the Gabba, and the draw 11-1.

Coral's John Hill said: "The manner in which England were crushed in the end at the Gabba means we are already concerned about the gamble on a 5-0 Australia win, which is by far our biggest liability in the series."

Steve Freeth of bet365 said: "England were smashed 5-0 the last two times they’ve lost the first Test at the Gabba and we’re already looking nervously at the liabilities on that scoreline.

"It looked competitive for the first three days of the Test but England's performance on day four was a real concern, coupled with fitness issues and the Bairstow saga.

"As the teams head to Adelaide, our original quote of 20-1 about an Australia whitewash is now a lot shorter."

Pre-series talk suggested the day/night Test, which starts at 3.30am on Saturday UK & Ireland time, might bring the best out of England's bowlers. However, the tourists are 11-4 to level things up at the Adelaide Oval with Australia 4-6 and the draw 5-1.

Punting pointers from the first Test

Aussie spinner wins head-to-head battle with Moeen
Spinner Nathan Lyon had a crucial role to play in Australia's four-man bowling attack in Brisbane and he relished the extra responsibility.

Lyon was outstanding in both innings, claiming five wickets (including the dangerous Moeen Ali twice), and England's batsmen never looked like hitting him out of the attack.

While the Aussie spinner bowled with control and menace, Moeen described his own second-innings effort - four overs, no wicket for 23 - as "rubbish".

Missed conversions continue to hurt England
England coach Trevor Bayliss said before the series that he wanted his batsmen to score 160s, not 60s, but the message clearly didn't get through.

James Vince was going well before being run out for 83 in the first innings but England had six individual scores of between 38 and 56 in the match.

In contrast, Australia openers Warner (87 not out) and Bancroft (82 not out) followed up Steve Smith's superb unbeaten 141 in the first innings.

Smith's match-defining innings means he has now scored 21 fifties and 21 centuries in his Test career - a conversion rate that England desperately need to start emulating. 

Predictable tail of woe of England's lower-order
A bottom three of Stuart Broad, Jake Ball and James Anderson was never likely to offer much resistance but that weak tail also affected the shot selection of other lower-order batsmen.

Bairstow won't look back fondly on his dismissals at the Gabba but he was the eighth man out in both innings and clearly felt he had to start taking risks.

Contrast that with Aussie skipper Smith, who showed great faith in his tailenders and was rewarded as Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Lyon helped him add an invaluable 121 runs for the last three wickets.

England slipped from 246-4 to 302 all out in the first innings and 185-6 to 195 all out second time around and in-play punters can anticipate similar collapses, especially while Ben Stokes remains unavailable for selection.

Pre-series talk suggested the day/night Test in Adelaide might get the best out of England's bowlers but the tourists are 11-4 to level things up
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