Ian Bell secured his place in the first Test with an impressive unbeaten century against Australia A last night.
Bell struggled when he last visited Australia, he was dismissed for two ducks and couldn’t manage double figures in another two of his 10 innings which led to some suggesting Eoin Morgan deserved a chance.
But Bell’s 198 unbeaten partnership with Paul Collingwood has secured the Coventry-born batsman his place in the Test side and has seen his online Ashes betting odds cut to 6/1 to be England’s leading series runscorer.
Amidst those four poor innings in the 2006/07 Ashes series, Bell made four half-centuries, including a knock of exactly 50 in the first innings of the first Test at the Gabba.
However, compared to his usual Test average of 42.92, Bell only averages 25.68 against the Australians and it would be no surprise to see Morgan get his chance if Bell fails to reproduce his warm-up form.
While Bell’s form will impress Andy Flower, Kevin Pietersen was bowled four just five runs and doubts remain around the South African-born batsman’s form.
Aside from a half century in the first innings against Western Australia, Pietersen has managed scores of 35, 33 and 5 in his three other innings and with just one possible innings left to play before the Ashes starts, Pietersen may have to find his form in the most pressurised environment.
Pietersen averages over 50 against Australia and will be crucial to England’s hopes of success if he can find his form.
However Flower is not afraid to drop Pietersen as he showed when not selecting him for the one-day squad, and Morgan may get a chance to take on the Aussies should Pietersen fail to perform.
Solid scores from Cook (60), and Collingwood (74) has boosted England’s confidence ahead of the first Test that England are 2/1 to win in the Ashes betting market.
England have been cut from 9/4 to 7/4 to win the series. See the full Ashes betting odds here.