Mark Fernando | 12:01am GMT 14 February 2021
When England last won the Ashes series in 2015, they did so with Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali in the squad. Although the former didn’t play, his inclusion showcased England’s desire to call on spin if required. Ali, on the other hand, enjoyed a fruitful campaign, taking 12 wickets. This proved to be the joint-second highest total in the England team, level with Steven Finn, and nine wickets behind Stuart Broad. Although the 33-year-old would play again in both 2017-18 and 2019, he couldn’t replicate his success.
Fascinatingly, England were also victorious on four occasions between 2005 and 2013, and, during that time, could rely on Graeme Swann. Although a top-level spin bowler doesn’t guarantee England the series, recent results indicate that it undoubtedly helps their chances. So, do the 32-time Ashes winners have enough quality in their spin attack to cause problems in 2021-22 and will they be the favourites to win the event at sports betting operators?
Needing to Find Their Own Lyon
During the previous two Ashes series, England have come unstuck at the hands of Australia’s world-class bowling attack. Along with the pace of Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, they also have Nathan Lyon in their ranks. Arguably the world’s best spin bowler, alongside Ravichandran Ashwin, the 33-year-old took 21 wickets in 2017-18 and a further 20 in 2019, including four in the second innings of the fifth test.
Perhaps this showcases why England were unsuccessful during the last series. Throughout the event, England and Australia’s pace bowlers were evenly matched, with Jofra Archer and Stuart Broad taking a combined 45 wickets, compared to Cummins’ and Hazlewood’s 49. Jack Leach, England’s spinner of choice, ended the series as England’s third-highest wicket-taker with a total of 12. Although impressive, the left-hander finished the tournament eight wickets behind Lyon.
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Although not a knock on Leach’s ability, it’s more of an insight into the difference in quality between both sides’ spin attacks. For example, in the second innings of the first test, Lyon took six wickets for 49 runs. During that outing, he dismissed Jason Roy, Joe Root, Joe Denly, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, and Broad.
Who Will Step Up to the Plate?
Ahead of the 2021-22 Ashes series, England are seeking to strengthen their spin department. As such, they’ve called on Jeetan Patel to be their spin coach. The 40-year-old believes that Leach can cause problems Down Under, describing the 33-year-old as a “bit of a pest”. At the time of writing, the Taunton-born left-arm orthodox bowler has taken 50 wickets across his 13 Test match appearances. During that time, he’s recorded an average of 30.46 and an economy of 3.00.
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Leach will likely be the favourite to lead England’s spin attack against the Baggy Greens in the upcoming Ashes series, but he isn’t the only bowler in the equation. Moeen Ali will also be in the conversation, as will Dom Bess, who’s got 36 wickets to his name in 13 Test matches. Questions also surround Rashid’s future, as he has long been struggling with a shoulder injury. Although they have options at their disposal, England currently lack a world-class spinner like they previously had in Swann.
That said, if their current crop can step up the plate, then the Ashes series will likely be a closely-contested event and one that fans can follow at sports betting sites. At Royal Panda’s bet in cricket markets, spectators can explore various opportunities, including odds on the 2021-22 Ashes, as well as one-day matches, T20s, and the Indian Premier League. Moreover, with live betting odds on offer, should England’s spinners hit the ground running, then outright markets may swing in their favour as they seek their 33rd victory.
Can They Take Their Games Up a Level?
Between now and the start of the upcoming Ashes, all eyes will be on the form and threat of England’s spinners. Thankfully, Root’s team have no shortage of spin bowlers at their disposal, and each will be out to show that they deserve to lead the attack. Who gets chosen, however, remains to be seen.
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