Four cricket tips for the first Ashes Test between England and Australia at Edgbaston, which starts on Friday.
Australia to win
Edgbaston has traditionally been a stronghold for England, but Australia won by 251 runs here in 2019 and look the better prepared and more settled side at the start of this series.
Their win over India in the World Test Championship final was a proper examination that they negotiated well, while England’s warm-up win over Ireland didn’t tell us much at all.
The Aussies have the three top-ranked batters in the world coming into the first Test, and a bowling attack which should thrive on the fast, flat pitches requested by England coach Brendon McCullum.
England have had to make a last-minute change after Jack Leach’s injury, bringing Moeen Ali back from retirement, and there are fitness concerns throughout their bowling attack.
Zak Crawley to score under 21.5 runs in the first innings
Another major worry for England is their opening pair – particularly the form of Zak Crawley, who is yet to convince as a Test opener despite playing 34 matches.
A scratchy 56 in the first innings against Ireland is the only time he has passed this mark in his last five innings.
Travis Head to score over 25.5 runs in the first innings
While Australia are likely to accumulate their runs in a more measured way than England, Head is someone who likes to score quickly in the middle order.
His brilliant 163 in the first innings against India came from just 174 balls, and he has now passed this mark in seven of his last 10 first-innings knocks.
James Anderson to be England’s top bowler in the first innings
Anderson has recovered from a groin injury to be named in England’s XI for the first Test and tends to perform well at Edgbaston.
He has 51 wickets there in total, including first-innings Ashes hauls of six in 2015 and five in 2009.