Richard Mann picks out his best bets from the The Ashes specials markets before Thursday's first Test at Edgbaston.
Tim Paine to score more series runs than Jonny Bairstow at 9/4
As I wrote in my Ashes series preview here, the case for Tim Paine to enjoy a fruitful campaign with the bat is strong and I'm keen to keep him on side as much as I can.
Paine has led the Australian side wonderfully since taking over from Steve Smith, helping repair some of the damage caused by the ball-tampering scandal while providing crucial runs with the bat and keeping with his usual flawless panache.
Despite calls for ODI international wicket-keeper Alex Carey to earn a call-up to the Test side for this series, Matthew Wade's outstanding form with the bat was enough to earn him a place on the tour as the reserve gloveman but Paine remains the number one.
Since returning to international cricket for the last Ashes series in Australia back in 2017/2018, a series in which he averaged close to 50 with the bat, Paine has produced some impressive contributions at number seven and was superb when making 215 runs at an average of 43.00 in the Test series defeat in South Africa just over a year ago.
A good break since Australia's last red-ball engagement against Sri Lanka at the beginning of this year will have given him plenty of time to prepare for this series, something that cannot be said of his English counterpart Jonny Bairstow.
The Yorkshire stumper finds himself under a little bit of pressure heading into this series on the back of a quiet 18 months with the bat in Test cricket, a stark contrast to his brilliant white-ball efforts.
Since the beginning of 2018, Bairstow has only averaged 26.62 with the bat in Test cricket and his career average of 36.24 is only marginally better than Paine's.
With Ben Foakes making a fine start to his Test career in Sri Lanka last winter and Jos Buttler also keen to reclaim the gloves he currently holds in white-ball cricket, Bairstow is by no means certain to keep his place for the duration of the summer if his struggles continue.
Bairstow was dismissed cheaply twice against Ireland last week, both times by deliveries that beat him on the inside edge, and the challenge of switching from the shorter forms of the game to Test cricket is one that he needs to conquer quickly.
All things considered, Paine looks the bet in a match at 9/4.
Moeen Ali to take over 11.5 series wickets at 5/6
While Moeen Ali's fluent and sometimes breathtaking batting continues to frustrate, there is no doubt he has developed into a fine off-spinner and one who might well hold one of the keys to England's Ashes hopes.
Ali will probably feel he has a little bit of a point to prove having struggled in the last Ashes series Down Under but he wouldn't be the first finger spinner to go to Australia and toil on a diet of flat batting pitches and a return to home comforts last summer clearly did him the power of good.
Ali found some form in country cricket with Worcestershire before returning to the England side for the last two Test matches of that summer, taking 12 wickets to help England claim a huge series win against a strong Indian side.
Ali claimed nine wickets at The Ageas Bowl as he bowled England to a tense victory in the fourth Test, proving more than a match for Indian's much-vaunted Indian batting line-up, before going on to enjoy a fine winter in Sri Lanka and then the West Indies.
Ali was outstanding in Sri Lanka as he claimed 18 scalps and he then excelled again when taking 14 more wickets in another three-match series, this time in the Caribbean.
England's decision not to retain Jack Leach for the first Ashes Test is a clear indication from Joe Root and Trevor Bayliss that Ali is their number one spinner this summer and given the mass of left-handers in Australia's touring party, the off-spinner really will be licking his lips.
Ali is a particularly good bowler to left-handers and the 5/6 on offer with Sky Bet for him to claim over 11.5 wickets in the series looks very generous.
No England opening batsman to score a century in the series at 11/2
England's well documented struggles at the top of the order shows no signs of abating with Rory Burns and Jason Roy now tasked with solving a problem that has become even more apparent since Alastair Cook's retirement at the end of last summer.
Burns won his elevation to the national set-up on the back of a sustained glut of runs in county cricket for Surrey but his form this term has been less impressive and the jury is still out on him following a tough outing against Ireland at Lord's last week.
Burns is now seven matches into his Test career but an average of 22.28 is a clear indication that he has yet to prove that he belongs at this level, for all he did display promise in the winter.
Surrey teammate Roy will walk out with Burns at Edgbaston following some wonderful performances in white-ball cricket but his lack of red-ball action in the last 18 months and a shaky first-innings failure against Ireland leaves him with some questions to answer against the moving ball.
Trent Boult and Matt Henry certainly caused Roy plenty of problems when there was something in the pitch at Lord's in the World Cup final and for him, and Burns, the prospect of facing the likes of James Pattinson and Pat Cummins with a new Dukes ball over the next six weeks will be the greatest test they have faced in their respective careers.
England's batsman have hardly made a habit of scoring centuries in recent times - Cook is the only England opener to reach three figures in the last two home summers - and with a rookie opening pair set to a face a world-class Australian attack, the 11/2 Sky Bet are offering for no England opening batsman to score a century in the series is very appealing.
Posted at 1920 BST on 30/07/19.
Ashes series dates
- First Test (Aug 1-5)
Venue: Edgbaston, Birmingham
- Second Test (Aug 14-18)
Venue: Lord's, London,
- Third Test (Aug 22-26)
Venue: Headingley, Leeds
- Fourth Test (Sept 4-8)
Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester
- Fifth Test (Sept 12-16)
Venue: The Oval, London