After finishing off the last mince pie with a glass of port there can be no better way to end Christmas Day than sitting back in front of the Ashes.
The Fourth Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground is sure to be a belter with the series finely balanced at 1-1 and given that there has only been one draw there in the past 13 years a result is on the cards. Having checked the forecast for Melbourne, the weather is also unlikely to play a part in holding up proceedings.
Since the heavy defeat in Perth, Andy Flower will have been racking his brains to find a solution to the problem that is Michael Hussey. Considering his place was under huge threat during the build up to the Brisbane Test, his turnaround has been remarkable. He has scored at least a half century in each of his five innings, and a total of 517. His 2010/11 Ashes average currently stands at 103.4 runs, but England fans will be pleased to find that the batsman hasn’t fared too well at the MCG in the past.
In Hussey’s five matches at the infamous sporting arena he has only managed one century, which interestingly came in his first innings there, against South Africa in 2005. Since that opening knock, his highest total is 82 runs, scored on Boxing Day in 2009. Spread bettors thinking of buying Hussey’s runs for the next Test might think twice knowing he averages just 31.66 at the ground and that the last time he faced the Three Lions here he was dismissed for six.
It must have been tough for Jimmy Anderson to leave his newborn daughter and mummy behind in Lancashire, as he jetted back to Australia to join his England teammates ahead of the third Ashes Test.
But - on the plus side - it's 30-plus degrees in Perth and on the Waca's fast-friendly pitch he has the opportunity to lead the charge to retain the urn for England.
The Western Australia Cricket Association ground welcomes the fast bowler with open arms and given the line-ups of the respective teams - Australia look likel to select four quicks, England boasting Anderson, the explosive Steve Finn and probably 6'7'' Chris Tremlett - the first thing spread bettors should expect is a result.
Of these bowlers, Sporting Index pitch Anderson with the highest bowling index quote of 45-50 (10pts per wicket, 25pt bonus for five-wicket innings haul). It seems about right given that the casualties must be shared among Australia's four seamers/swingers plus spin bowler, but beware the resurrected Mitchell Johnson. He bowled his career best of 8/61 against South Africa here two years ago.
Spreadwiser put the following to Toby, senior cricket trader at Sporting Index...
Spreadwiser: Correct score?
Toby: 2-2. The little urn is coming home.
Top Aussie batsman?
Top Aussie bowler?
Top English (or South African??) batsman?
I'd say Ian Bell if he was batting higher. As it is, Andrew Strauss.
Top England bowler?
Graeme Swann, but of the quick bowlers I reckon Stuart Broad.
Man of the Series?
Cheers Toby. Enjoy the series and hope it treats you well!
(These are the personal views of Toby, not Sporting Index Ltd and should not be viewed as recommendations for future bets).
The 24 hours before the Ashes is bound to be one of the busiest times of the year for cricket spread betting traders. Spreadwiser went behind the scenes at Sporting Index to chat to the team and find out where the money's going.
Living the life of a sport trader must be a mixed blessing. Sure, they are immersed in their favourite sports day-to-day but while everyone else is gearing up for Christmas, the cricket guys at Sporting Index are contemplating night shifts and long hours making sure their cricket spread punters are kept happy. Thanks in no small part to the thrilling summer of 2005, Ashes Tests will typically see twice as much business as other matches involving England. If the traders were not so excited, you could almost feel sorry for them.
And while their personal hopes are most likely for the tourists to return with the tiny urn, as the majority of the money has been in support of England, the cricket traders' allegiance to their employers means they want a strong showing from the Baggy Greens. Who do they cheer for?
As is usual with cricket Tests, the market seeing the most action is the Australia/England Trade Deficit (currently at 60-100), a measure of the cumulative first innings supremacy of the hosts. As we get closer to the off, people will take more interest in the numerous other spreads on offer, including the player markets, as they work out who is in form and who is likely to impress Down Under.
Because of the unfriendly time zones, in-running business is reduced compared to an equivalent match held on these shores, but that only adds to a greater take-up in the pre-match and series markets. Still, a ten-strong team will man the phones for the first night of the first Test at the Gabba, and adjustments made for subsequent evenings depending on how things pan out.
To the traders, punters and players... Good luck, and here's to a cracking winter of cricket!
To buy or not to buy? When it comes to England’s Ashes series win index, that is the question. This really does look like our best chance of not only getting one over on the old enemy, but doing it in their own backyard. No, not at the Kennington Oval, in Australia.
Most of today’s side were barely out of nappies – and Steven Finn wasn’t even born – the last time England triumphed in Australia yet, as the Three Lions jet off for three-and-a-bit months down under, hopes are high that Straussy and co won’t just be heading off an extended holiday.
Not that there was much fun in the sun last time out as England crashed to a 5-0 whitewash and an expectant home support won’t settle for anything less than another win for their boys. However, after consecutive Ashes defeats in Blighty, the pressure is on Ricky Ponting.
Gone are the days when the Baggy Greens could intimidate their opposition into conceding wickets and this side looks pretty ordinary by comparison to their swashbuckling predecessors. They are even ranked below the tourists in the current ICC rankings and, with a draw enough for England to retain the Ashes; it could be a while before the Aussies get their hands on the urn again.