Hawk Eye on the First Ashes Test: Cummins and Stokes stand out

Ben Stokes
Stokes is value again
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Ed Hawkins returns with his hugely profitable stats service and Crick-o-nomics database ahead of the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston from Thursday...

"No-one likes change, though, do they? The good news is that, as classy and as consistent as he is in getting a score, Joe Root has to be taken on"

Square Root of bad value

It's as if the World Cup never ended. Cracking open the Crick-o-nomics database once again, we find similar results when it comes to deciphering who is - and who isn't - value for top England runscorer in the first innings.

No-one likes change, though, do they? The good news is that, as classy and as consistent as he is in getting a score, Joe Root has to be taken on. It's a 15.7% win rate for him in two years so it should be no surprise that we turn our noses up at Sportsbook's 11/4.

And, as ever, we have sniffed out the value on Ben Stokes, who copped consistently in the World Cup at inflated odds. He has a 21.4% hit rate so the 5/1 that Sportsbook have chalked up has to be snapped up.

This could be the perfect situation for Stokes. With the pitch expected to make life tough for the top order, a rescue act may be required. And it is certainly debatable whether the likes of Rory Burns, Jason Roy and Joe Denly are superior players in technique and temperament.

For that reason, Jos Buttler could be the biggest danger to Stokes. He has three wins in 16 in this market (we prefer at least 20 innings to be confident) so there is nothing wrong with the 11/2 on offer.

Just back Pat - again

There will be a rush to back James Anderson for top England wicket-taker in the first-innings at 2/1 (Sportsbook). As good as Jimmy is in Birmingham - his strike rate of 40 in the last 10 years is by the far the best - the price is too skinny on two-year form. He's closer to 7/2.

Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes don't pass the value test, either, with hit rates of less than 10% so it is a market we may have to bypass. The same cannot be said of the Australia market.

Pat Cummins to be top Aussie is probably the bet of the entire Test. He is 3/1 with 11/4 favourite Mitchell Starc not even sure of a starting berth. Cummins has an extraordinary 42% win rate here. He is not to be missed. We're also on for top series honours.

Smith value call

The top Australia runscorer market could well be a head-to-head all summer between David Warne and Steve Smith. Between them, they win 51% of the time on this market. Sportsbook can't split them, going 11/4 the pair.

We can, though. Smith is the favourite in our book by dint of a 10% swing his way. We make him a 9/4 chance. Of course, we are worried that seam and swing early on makes Smith's job a tricky one but there's not a lot for him to beat here.

Usman Khawaja is a batter we like but he is nowhere near close to being called value at 4/1. Smith is the only Australian who carries a wrong price tag for this Test. That may not change throughout the entire series.

No ton worth an interest

With the bowlers expected to enjoy the fruits of a juicy Edgbaston pitch, as discussed in our match preview, the 5/1 that Sportsbook offers about no century in the match whets the whistle.

There have been eight centuries in the last ten years at the venue. That's eight Tests. But there were no tons in two of them. One of them was not the bowler-dominated England-India clash last summer.

It was a minefield for mere mortals so, naturally, Virat Kohli made 149. Is there a batsman of his calibre on show from Thursday? Not on your life. Worth a nibble, then.

Hawk-Eye P-L

2019 - points p-l: +44.52 (83 points staked)
2018 - points p-l: +9.86 (89 points staked)
2017 - points p-l: +5.29 (26 points staked)

Ed Hawkins,

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