Challenge for England to win Ashes opener

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Alastair Cook’s England side approach the first Test down under having won the last three Ashes series.

However, they’ll still be wary ahead of the opening clash at the Gabba, having lost the first Test in 12 of their last 13 away series. Their sole victory was an 181-run victory in Bangladesh in 2010 where Cook scored 173.

The classic at Trent Bridge this summer was the first opening Ashes Test that England had won since 1997.

Australia are 7/4 to win the first Test, with the draw at 2/1.

This dismal record in first tests abroad won’t have been helped by the difficult build up to this contents.

The weather has played havoc with the tourist’s warm-up schedule, with rain disrupting a match-up with Australia ‘A’ and practice before facing an Invitational XI.

Having played in 50 consecutive tests, wicket keeper Matt Prior is still a major injury doubt with Jonny Bairstow ready to deputise.

In addition to Bairstow’s inexperience in the position, Cook’s opening partner is set to be the untried Michael Carberry.

The Surrey man has a first-class average of 43.9 and scored a fine 50 during the successful run chase in England’s final warm up, but is very inexperienced at this level with health problems limiting him to only one previous Test appearance.

But in what may be a good omen for England, that appearance was in the England’s sole first test victory in Bangladesh mentioned above.

Carberry is 20/1 to have a dream Ashes debut and be named man of the match.

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