Ashes Betting: Five things we learnt from the First Test in Brisbane

The last thing Joe Root needs is off-field controversy right now.
The last thing Joe Root needs is off-field controversy right now.

There were five valuable lessons to be learnt from the First Ashes Test, says Jamie Pacheco, including what an immovable object Steve Smith might prove to be and how England will be praying for an injury to one of Australia's pace attack...

''The caveat is that the three pace men are all injury-prone. I’d be amazed if all three played all five Tests and England’s chances of getting something may depend on one or more of them pulling up. So consider the 4.03/1 on Lyon being top Aussie wicket-taker. He’ll play every match and will just keep on coming at you until you make a mistake.''

1) Steve Smith is the world's best

Well it's stating the obvious to say that given he's the world's top-ranked Test batsman but his knock of 141 really was a work of art. It completely changed the match not only in terms of giving Australian an unlikely first innings lead but also in terms of how the momentum swung.

It's worth remembering that no-one else made a century in the match.

What's also worth remembering is that the skipper remained 'not out'. Eight Australian batsmen came and went in between Smith arriving at the crease and walking off unbeaten, which begs the question: how are England going to get him out next time? Part of the problem for England is that with his unorthodox technique that involves him often walking across his stumps and relying on his timing to flick the ball through the leg side and unusual scoring areas, the Tourists will need to devise a new plan just for him.

It's no wonder he's just 2.26/5 to be the Top Series Runscorer from across both sides after just one Test.

2) England's inexperienced trio is the least of their worries

James Vince 640.jpg

All the talk ahead of the First Test was how Mark Stoneman, James Vince (above) and Dawid Malan, with just a handful of Test caps between them would cope out in Australia. Well, the answer is 'just fine', at least from what we've seen so far.

Vince looked excellent in scoring 85 in the first innings until he was done by a piece of brilliant fielding while the other two also hit half-centuries when England batted first. Geoff Boycott will no doubt have told anyone who would listen that they need to turn those starts into centuries but they were decent contributions nonetheless.

So this trio is something the England management may not have to worry about. It's just a load of other stuff that will be giving Joe Root and Trevor Bayliss sleepless nights.

3) Australia's bowling attack looks beautifully balanced

We all suspected as much before a ball was bowled in anger although a few eyebrows were raised at Australia's decision to not field a fifth bowling option in the shape of an all-rounder.

In Mitchell Starc there's raw pace and aggression, in Josh Hazlewood that perfect Glenn McGrath-like line and length and in Pat Cummins a bit of extra bounce generated from his 6ft 3 frame. It's hard for batsmen to go from facing one to another. And if they don't get you, Nathan Lyon will.

The caveat is that the three pacemen are all injury-prone. I'd be amazed if all three played all five Tests and England's chances of getting something may depend on one or more of them pulling up.

So consider the 4.03/1 on Lyon being top Aussie wicket-taker. He'll play every match and will just keep on coming at you until you make a mistake.

4) England's bowling looks very suspect

James Anderson and Stuart Broad have seen it all before and injury permitting, will go out, do their stuff, take wickets. No problem. Moeen Ali may have to learn to adjust his length a bit but he'll be ok, too.

It's the others that are the problem. Chris Woakes and Jake Ball were England's most expensive bowlers (even Joe Root was more economical) with Ball in particular guilty of giving away too many runs. In both innings he went for over four an over. Between them they took two wickets from a combined 61 overs.

The solution? Any suggestions are welcome. With Adelaide the next venue and a lightning quick pitch expected the England management may turn to Craig Overton in place of Ball, who unlike Woakes, doesn't really bat. Overton is 5/1 to be England's first innings top wicket-taker at the Adelaide Oval and without the scars and fatigue from Brisbane, may just deliver if he does get a game. At least Australia won't have seen much of him.

5) English cricketers have a habit of making bad decisions

It used to be England's footballers who made poor choices. From the pre-Euro 96 dentist's chair, to playing high-stakes poker games on the team bus less than an hour after being knocked out of Euro 2000, to David Beckham's France 98 red card and sarong-wearing.

But step aside Gazza and Becks because now it's the cricketers who have excelled at brain fades over the past decade. Kevin Pietersen shouldn't have texted the South Africans, Andrew Flintoff shouldn't have got on the pedalo, Graeme Swann could have got into a taxi rather than drinking under the influence when trying to rescue his cat, Ben Stokes probably should have stopped at the third punch in Bristol and now Jonny Bairstow was left wondering if his was the most appropriate greeting towards Cameron Bancroft in a bar in Perth. The last one has admittedly been blown out of all proportion but Joe Root must be fuming at the fact that England even gave the Media something like that to talk about.

As Pietersen put it a couple of years ago in a TV interview 'Everyone's a journalist these days'. It's not easy being in the spotlight permanently and it's sad state of affairs if you're travelling around the world to interesting places and are expected to be stuck in a hotel room between matches eating bangers and mash and watching re-runs of the Big Bang Theory. But the bad decisions have to stop.

Bairstow in the meanwhile is 5/2 to make a first-innings 50 at Adelaide rather than making headlines for silly reasons.

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