The first Test of the 2023 Ashes series between England and Australia begins at Edgbaston on Friday June 16 with both teams on the crest of wave under coaches just over a year into the job.
England have won 11 of 13 Test Matches since Brendan McCullum took over, yet find themselves underdogs to Andrew McDonald’s ICC World Test Champions in both the series betting and the win-draw-win market for its opening match.
The Aussies have few form or fitness concerns over their star performers compared to the hosts and with many of their squad already acclimatised to local conditions our England vs Australia predictions are looking for ways to be with Steve Smith and friends in Birmingham.
England vs Australia first Test betting tips
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Bouncing Baggy Greens can continue winning form in England
From an England point of view Edgbaston was an ominous selection to stage the first Test of the series given Australia triumphed by 251 runs when the second-city venue hosted the opening encounter of the 2019 series.
The tourists return in superb nick after besting India to win the ICC World Test Championship at the Oval on June 11, meaning they’re up to speed with local conditions in no uncertain terms.
Some of their key batsmen have been here getting their eye in for a while longer than that too, with former world number 1 ranked Test batter Steve Smith playing three games for Sussex ahead of this series and reigning world number 1 Marnus Labuschagne playing county cricket for Glamorgan since 2019.
Unlike England, for whom talismanic skipper Ben Stokes is likely to be hampered by injury, while first choice spinner Jack Leach will miss the series entirely, Australia arrive at this juncture with the leading lights of their deep squad in fine fettle.
The Aussies recently notched two wins on their tour of India and have also claimed at least two victories in each of their last two Ashes tours in England. In-form and acclimatised, they’re more than capable of setting off towards matching that total here.
Smith can reprise 2019 role as England’s chief Ashes oppressor
As mentioned previously, Smith has been getting used to English conditions with a three-game spell playing first class cricket for Sussex which included a fair knock of 89 against Glamorgan.
Batters with the potential to rack up big scores run deep in the Australian order with Usman Khawaja, David Warner, Smith, Travis Head and Cameron Green all having knocked off centuries inside their last three Tests and David Warner and Labuschagne very capable of doing likewise.
However, none bar Smith have the experience of batting imperiously throughout an Ashes series on enemy soil as the New South Wales native did on the 2019 tour, when he plundered 774 runs at an average of 110.54.
That mammoth haul included ton-ups of 144 and 142 respectively in both innings at Edgbaston and in a team full of batters that could rack up big scores he seems the most likely of all.