Ahead of the 1st Test at Trent Bridge, England legend and Unibet Ambassador Graeme Swann delivers this exclusive betting preview...
I think the squad has been strengthened by Ben Stokes coming back in. He’s a very exciting player and in really good form for Durham with ball and bat. After his impressive performances in an England shirt during the winter, this will serve as a big boost.
Moeen Ali has rightly kept his place. He got that fantastic hundred in the 2nd Test against Sri Lanka at Headingley, so for me he has to play here.
Overall, I think it’s a good squad, although we don’t really have any specialist spinners. Right now we’ve got good seam bowlers who pretty much pick themselves, and whilst we have got good spinners too, I don’t think that there is one outstanding candidate who elevates himself above the rest, and that is how it’s going to be for a little while.
DEFEAT VERSUS SRI LANKA
You can read something into the Sri Lanka defeat - even though it was just a small series - but not necessarily from the cricket itself.
What's concerning is that the ground staff are producing pitches that aren’t result orientated. Sure, we get five days of cricket played – which is good from a commercial point of view for the clubs, obviously – but it doesn’t really help England, especially when we've got such a seam-heavy bowling lineup.
I think in the first innings England will, as always, have quite an attacking setup, especially if the ball starts moving around with Jimmy and Broady, and Stokes coming in later.
However, later on in the game given the nature of the pitch and the fact that we are without the variety of the spinner, it could become a long drawn out process to try and take 20 wickets.
That said, the Trent Bridge conditions will suit England.
It’s a good wicket. There’s normally a bit of pace, bit of nip, bit of swing in the air, although they have been getting slower and slower over the last couple of years. It doesn’t really spin at all there, I always found that at Trent Bridge, so that should play into England’s hands. I think India will rely on spinners to bowl a lot of overs, and the England batsmen should be able to get on top of whoever it is.
I’m expecting the skipper to stand and deliver.
He’s had a couple of weeks away from the spotlight. He will have just forgotten about everything for a few days, then got down to business in the nets - he’s been busy hitting balls from dusk till dawn, I’m sure. I have no doubt he’s going to come out fighting against India and prove his class once more.
I would love to Alastair get a big hundred and lead England to victory here, and then he can get on with captaining England rather than have to wear a flak jacket because so many people are taking pot shots at him. Unibet have an over/under market on Cook's first innings score and if you ask me he’ll comfortably score over 27.5 runs at 1.85.
India are a good team, with solid foundations and the added sparkle of a couple of unbelievably strong players in their ranks.
Virat Kohli (pictured) is probably, aesthetically speaking, the best batsman in the world, and they’ve got Rohit Sharma who’s a real talent and is in fine form.
They’ve always got good batting. But one thing they don’t like is when it’s quick and it’s up and at ‘em. That’s why if the wicket has got a bit of pace and a bit of movement and the Indians think there’s a bit of grass around the pitch - like they did last time they were over here - then it should play into England’s hands.
THE 1ST TEST TIPS
England are going to win the first Test at a price of 2.55.
I’m backing Jimmy Anderson again. He’s my banker. He’ll be man of the match at 11.00 and top wicket-taker at 6.00.
I’ll go for Joe Root to be top run scorer for England at 6.00, with Kohli for India at 4.25. I reckon Ashwin will bowl a lot of overs for India so I’ll pick him as their top wicket-taker at 4.25.
England will wrap it up in session two of the fifth day at 6.00.
I’m going to be optimistic and go for an England series win.
I don’t think it’s going to be a rout like last time they were here and we won 4-0, far from it. I think India are a very dangerous team and it wouldn’t surprise me if they nicked a Test match, but I’m going to go 3-1 England at 8.50.
Bet on England v India now.