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273/10 in 66.24.12
282/8 in 92.33.05
Toss Winner - England won the toss and chose to bat first
Australia beat England by 2 runs
With Ben Stokes as captain and Brendon McCullum as coach, England have undergone a significant shift in their playing style. They have achieved a remarkable run rate of 4.85 runs per over the last year, the highest ever recorded in Test cricket history.
We are backing England as the winners of the first Ashes Test.
Tournament: The Ashes, 2023 | Format: TEST | Venue: Edgbaston Stadium, Birmingham, England | Toss: To BatBet Now
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The 2023 Ashes series begins on Friday morning at Edgbaston. Ben Stokes will lead an energized England team in their quest to defeat Australia, the reigning World Test champions, and clinch the cherished Ashes urn, a feat that has eluded them since 2015. At this moment, it's hard to refute the fact that both teams are excelling in the longest format, making them the top two teams for English conditions.
Since Brendon McCullum assumed the coaching role, England has won in 11 out of their last 13 Test matches, suffering only two losses – against South Africa and New Zealand. Notably, the defeat against New Zealand was a narrow one-run loss. Playing at Edgbaston in the first Test, England will be hopeful that it works in their favor, although the historical strength of 'Fortress Edgbaston' has waned due to defeats against New Zealand in 2021 and Australia in 2019.
Word has it that England has requested a flat pitch that suits their fast-scoring style of play, fondly referred to as 'Bazball' by fans and observers, in honor of their current head coach. If that does happen, England’s batting will be worth watching.
The performances of the opening batsmen, Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett, along with Ollie Pope at number three, will be crucial for the team's success. Harry Brook is our batter to watch out for. The young middle-order batter has taken the world by storm and has already smashed 818 runs in his 11 Test innings at an average of 81.80 and a strike rate of 99.03.
When it comes to playing against Australia at home, James Anderson (34 wickets in the last 8 matches) and Stuart Broad (33 wickets in the last 7 matches) have consistently proven their mettle with the ball, and the two seamers will be the biggest hurdle for the visitors. Ollie Robinson, likewise, is highly anticipated to build on his success and reaffirm his position on the international stage.
Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes (C), Jonny Bairstow (Wk), Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Ollie Robinson/Mark Wood, Moeen Ali
Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Ollie Pope, Stuart Broad, Zak Crawley, Ollie Robinson, Moeen Ali, Ben Duckett, Harry Brook, James Anderson, Ben Stokes
Australia couldn’t have hoped to come into the Ashes in better form. They have just won the World Test Championship final at the Oval against India, and are flying high in confidence. Moreover, they are now well acquainted with the conditions.
It's a well-known fact that Australia has a strong batting lineup. Although David Warner has been out of form lately, he has the ability to bounce back at any moment. Usman Khawaja, despite his underwhelming performance in the World Test Championship (WTC) final, has been consistently exceptional for Australia over the last two years. He was the second-highest run-getter in the 2021-2023 WTC cycle, amassing 1621 runs in 30 innings an average of nearly 65.
Steven Smith's ability to amass runs, especially in England, was once again on display in the WTC final where he scored a fine century. It goes without saying that he will be the main batter to watch out for in this Test. Smith, by the way, now has 1882 runs in England in just 32 innings at an average of 60.70, with 7 hundreds and 7 fifties.
Marnus Labuschagne (922 runs in the last 10 matches at an average of 65.85) is another batter worth betting on. Travis Head can be likened to the Australian equivalent of ‘Bazball’, and is fresh off a match-winning 163 against India in the WTC final.
In English conditions, the Aussie seamers will be far more than a handful. Scott Boland's exceptional performance in the WTC final has made an incredibly compelling case for him to secure a spot in the starting XI. It's a given that captain Pat Cummins will play, but with Josh Hazlewood's return, Mitchell Starc's position might be in danger. The left-arm pacer struggled to contain runs in both innings against India and will be punished if he fails to find his rhythm against England's power-hitting lineup.
Pat Cummins (C), David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Alex Carey (Wk), Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood /Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland.
Scott Boland, Nathan Lyon, Pat Cummins, Marnus Labuschagne, Alex Carey, Steven Smith, Usman Khawaja, Cameron Green, David Warner, Travis Head, Josh Hazlewood
The pitch at Edgbaston is usually good for batting, and a flat surface is expected for the first Test. Expect plenty of runs to be scored in the first two and a half days. However, the weather is expected to be cloudy from the third day onwards, which will help the seamers get sufficient movement and trouble the batters. Spinners will also come into play in the last two days.
The average score batting first at Edgbaston is 310. The highest team score at the venue is 710-7 (dec.) by England in 2011 versus India. The team batting first in this Test will be looking to post a total in the range of 400 runs. Interestingly, 15 matches have been drawn at Edgbaston out of the 54 Tests played. The touring sides have won only 10 matches here.
Out of the 54 Test played at Edgbaston, 18 have been won by the team batting first and 21 by the side batting second. However, with rain expected on the last three days of the match, the team winning the toss might be tempted to bat first to be on the safer side.
Australia retained the Ashes in 2021 in England after the series ended in a draw. With Ben Stokes leading the charge, England's formidable team is determined to retaliate and overcome their previous season's setback. While both teams boast middle-order strength, they have vulnerabilities in their top order. Even on a flat Edgbaston pitch, both England and Australia remain optimistic about their chances of capturing 20 wickets.
Draws hold no appeal for Ben Stokes, and England is expected to adopt an aggressive approach, even at the risk of losing, in their quest for a win. The hosts have enjoyed significantly more time to recuperate compared to their opponents, whose recent World Test Championship duties concluded less than a week ago. These seemingly minor factors could play a crucial role in what is anticipated to be an exceedingly tight contest. We think Australia might initially struggle to cope with England's highly aggressive approach in both batting and bowling at Edgbaston, where the home crowd will be boisterously cheering their team on. Therefore, backing England to draw first blood would be the sensible choice.
We are backing England as the winners of the first Ashes Test.
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