The standard of English and Australian cricket has come under major scrutiny this week after both international Test sides proved far from convincing in respective touring series.
While England stare down the were nearly going down to an embarrassing 1-0 series defeat to New Zealand thanks to life saving century by Matt Prior, Australia suffered a humiliating whitewash at the hands of India to lose 4-0 for the first time since South Africa in 1970.
The two series results mean neither side carries much form heading into the English summer, where fans in the Ashes cricket betting world are eagerly anticipating another round of Ashes action.
Unfortunately for Australia, their loss in India is probably more concerning than England’s poor display in New Zealand. Team and coaching issues, poor performances and an inability to handle a turning subcontinent wicket have blighted the Baggy Greens’ tour.
Vice-captain Shane Watson was dropped then reinstated, while Michael Clarke’s back injury is a major concern as his absence in the fourth Test proves just how fragile their top order really is.
A series whitewash is never a good thing but against India – who lost to England 2-1 on home soil last winter – it is a disaster for Australia as we draw closer to the Ashes.
England, meanwhile, have shown their weakness when captain Alastair Cook slumps in form and Kevin Pietersen’s injury exposes the same fragility in the order that Australia are struggling to rectify.
With their bowlers performing below par without the injured Graeme Swann, England and Australia are gearing up for what could be one of the worst Ashes series in living memory.
Not that this will take away from the drama – betting on England to win will see to that – but fans can expect little consistency to settle in over the five-match series.