England have a chance to bag a historic double this year by winning both the World Cup and The Ashes on home soil.
The home nation are the favourites to lift the 50-over white ball title and with good reason. With a home crowd roaring them along, the world No 1’s power-packed batting line-up, the hosts have nothing to fear when the tournament starts on May 30th, with England facing South Africa at The Oval.
Despite crashing out of the 2015 World Cup at the group stage, England have been subsequently led to the top op of the ICC rankings thanks to the astute captaincy of Middlesex’s Eoin Morgan and the measured Australian coach, Trevor Bayliss.
With an experienced line-up, full of matchwinners, England have spent time building up to the event by building a settled team which has triumphed in 48 out of their last 58 one-day internationals.
Soon after the World Cup finishes, old foes Australia will tackle horns with England and basking in a 4-0 Ashes victory when the two countries last met in 2017-2018.
It won’t be easy for the hosts with their top three batting slots wide open. Coach Bayliss, who leaves after the series has suggested Rory Burns, Joe Denly and Keaton Jennings are in pole position to start although with only one Test against Ireland before the Ashes start in August, there is time for a batsman from the county scene to break into the side.
Since their win on home soil, Australian cricket has been in some disarray due to lengthy bans to Steve Smith, Cameron Bancroft and David Warner, who were caught cheating and subsequently punished for ball tampering in South Africa.
They have struggled to fill the void of such experienced players and it remains to be seen if the trio will return to the side in time and, if they do, whether they will be the same players.
Australia’s overall strength lies is in their potent bowling attack of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins and the visitors will be praying they steer clear of recent injury problems.
Despite the visitors always being a competitive outfit, particularly raising their game against the old enemy, England can win back the famous urn at 4/5 with bet365.
That old perennial, the County Championship, begins in earnest on April 5th and it will see England skipper Joe Root facing the bowling of international team-mate and Nottinghamshire stalwart Stuart Broad at Trent Bridge.
Money-laden defending champions, Surrey, miss the first round of games and host Essex in the first game on April 11th at The Oval. The Brown Caps will be strong favourites to repeat their title win in 2018 (5/2 with Bet365) and will have Rory Burns, Ben Foakes and Tom Curran available at the start of the season.
Keep an eye out on young Somerset skipper Tom Abell to potentially break into the England set-up this summer. The Taunton born 25 year old has been in magnificent pre-season form and is one of the best batting talents in cricket allayed to a shrewd captaincy brain.
The pace will probably be a little less frenetic and the crowds a little lower than the Indian Premier League which feature at the same time. England stars such as Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes line up together for the Rajasthan Royals who are a decent 7/1 to win the whole tournament with Ladbrokes.