1. The Weather. Sunny conditions = England struggle. Overhead mizzle (a mix between mist and drizzle) = England prosper. That’s the train of thought in some circles. July is meant to be a hot month and the weather is due to hold until August. Last summer we had awkward weather in May and demolished the West Indies. Then in July the weather was glorious at the Oval and Amla accumulated stacks of runs and South Africa made England look extremely ordinary. This hot spell could shape the outcome of the Series. For me it evens things up quite a bit and I’m looking at the 2-2 Series draw at 8/1 as a genuine possibility, and the 15/2 Series Drawn as not outside the realms of fantasy too.
2. Top Series Bowler. Rogers, Khawaja, Cowan, Warner, Hughes. 5 Lefties in the Australian top order makes Graeme Swann at (11/2) look very tempting, although it has to be said that James Anderson(4/1) around the wicket is probably equally as dangerous against left handers. If I had to pick an Australian then I’d avoid the erratic Pattinson and Starc and instead be tempted at the longshot (25/1) Jackson Bird, who ripped through Sri Lanka on some pretty flat decks in his Test series debut and has the line and length mantra which has troubled English batsmen (Stuart Clark, Glenn McGrath).
3. Top Series Batsman. Now here I’d have one rule. Avoid Michael Clarke (6/1). It is easy to say that he’s Australia’s only man capable of holding a bat, but his record in England isn’t *that* special, and his back probably won’t hold out for 5 Tests. I really like the 7/1 Paddy Power are offering on Kevin Pietersen, he looks a man possessed and could face some tired bowlers. Jonathan Trott (8/1) and the favourite Alastair Cook (5/1) are never bad shouts, whilst Ian Bell (14/1) or Shane Watson (12/1) each way could be tempting. I’d possibly be tempted to avoid Cook as I’ve got it in my noggin that he doesn’t like left arm seamers too much (Zaheer, Aamir, Wagner, and therefore possibly Starc?) and thus go for KP or Trott.
4. The First Test. Trent Bridge is traditionally a decent hunting ground for England. Broad seems to bowl well there and the rest follow. However at 7/2 with the forecast set to be mid-to-late 20s (comfortable weather for Bogun Bruce Shackledragger, not so much for John Bull) it’s worth signing up to a new betting site who’ll match your first bet up to £20 and stick it on England at more or less just below evens, then a tenner on both the draw and an Australian win (not using your free bet). Worst case scenario = basically your money back (minus £4) in the event of an England loss and a free £20 bet to stick on a long shot.
NOTE: I am terrible at gambling.