THE fact that Ben Stokes isn’t in Australia could have a massive bearing on the destination of the little urn. The red-headed all-rounder is a brilliant batsman, fielder and a more than useful bowler.

He is expected to fly out at some point but will the series be effectively over by the time he pitches up?

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The first Test will be crucial and, unsurprisingly, the hosts have a fine record at The Gabba.

In fact, they haven’t lost in Brisbane since the 1980s, with 13 wins and two draws in the last 15 matches. There’s a reason why the Aussies have picked this venue for the first Test – it’s because they expect to win here.

But all does not seem well in the Aussie camp. The selectors have copped flak for picking Shaun Marsh and wicket keeper Tim Paine, who couldn’t even get in the Tasmania side earlier in the season.

Australia do have two world class batsmen in David Warner and skipper Steve Smith but you can counter that with England’s proven pair in Alastair Cook and Joe Root.

With draws being less common in Test cricket these days it seems as though one team will be one to the good at the end of the first five days.

The difference between the two teams in the series could be bowler Josh Hazlewood, whose accuracy has drawn comparisons with Aussie legend Glenn McGrath.

Nathan Lyon explained why Hazelwood is Australia’s best bowler:

“He can swing the new ball in and out, he can seam it, he can bowl fast, he can bowl a nice bouncer, he can reverse an old ball,” said Lyon. “His consistency, the pace he bowls at and the way he controls the game is incredible. In my book he’s the No1 bowler in the world.”

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Pat Cummins is injury prone whilst Mitchell Starc, probably the quickest of the trio, can be wayward.

Over the course of the five Tests we expect Hazlewood to take the most wickets for his country.

We suggest buying Hazlewood’s series bowling performance at 265 with our preferred spread betting firm, Spreadex. .That’s 10 points per wicket taken plus 25 points for a five-wicket haul in an innings.

There would seem to be little downside to this bet and if Australia’s best bowler lives up to his tag it should prove to be a very profitable trade.

As always, only bet what you can afford.

Good luck!

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