The bookies are marginally coming down in Australia's favour ahead of the first Ashes Test.
By Nigel Askham
Last Updated: 19/11/13 11:58am
England's dreadful record in the first Test of an overseas series has the bookies coming down marginally in Australia's favour ahead of the Ashes opener in Brisbane on Thursday.
Aside from the 2-0 win against outclassed minnows Bangladesh in 2010, you have to go back to South Africa in 2004 to find England's last winning start on their travels. Of their 12 other tour openers in this period eight have ended in defeat and four in draws.
Now despite England being evens favourites to win the five-match series and odds-on to avoid defeat and retain the Ashes, bookmakers Sky Bet clearly have an inkling of a testing start for Alastair Cook's men.
Sky Bet cricket trader Tom Warburton said: "It's been very tight in the market for the Brisbane Test and the Aussies are likely to start as marginal favourites.
"They were far more competitive over here last summer than the 3-0 scoreline suggests and they are sure to come out fighting on home soil."
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He added: "They have the added advantage of their state cricket season being under way so they all have a little more top-class cricket under their belts in recent weeks than England.
"The weather forecast is for some rain and bad light interruptions towards the end of the day and that has seen the draw ease from 5/2 when the market opened at the end of last month to 13/8."
The humid conditions tend to favour the bowlers at The Gabba and with both attacks more than capable of taking full advantage the focus could well be on the batting line-ups where England are widely believed to hold the advantage.
England are expected to include Michael Carberry as an opener after an encouraging start to the tour and he is 9/2 to score the most runs for his side in the first innings, with Cook the 100/30 favourite in this market following his sensational tour in 2010/2011.
Injury to Matt Prior could well open the door for Yorkshire's Jonny Bairstow behind the stumps and he is 9/1 to top score in his first knock.
Australia skipper Michael Clarke is 3/1 favourite with the online bookmaker to top score for the hosts with David Warner boosted to 7/1 to begin with a first-innings century.
England will again rely heavily on James Anderson with the ball following his 24-wicket haul in his last tour Down Under and Sky Bet have price boosted him to 13/2 to carry on in the same vein with five or more wickets in the first innings.
For the Aussies the enigmatic Mitchell Johnson, their top bowler two years ago with 15, is always more of a threat on home soil, but he could be outshone by Ryan Harris - their star performer with the ball last summer - who is 12/1 for man of the match and 16/1 for a match tally of 10 or more wickets.