England are a best price of 10/11 to win the Third Test against Australia which begins at Old Trafford this Thursday. The home side are as low as 5/2 to win each of the five matches in the series but the key to achieving the third leg of that outcome is the motivation and desire shown by each side in Manchester over the course of the match.
If England avoid defeat they will retain the Ashes but if they get into a wining position they are more likely to press home the advantage rather than settle for a stalemate. You rarely see a poor Australian side in any sport and the cricketers will be determined to recover from the comprehensive defeat at Lords.
Bet Enthusiast followers were advised to back a correct series score of 3-1 to England. That result is still possible but there will need to be a big improvement from the Aussies if they are to win one of the remaining three matches. The weather will also have to intervene if one match is to be drawn.
Very little time has been lost due to the elements in the series to date but the weather forecast for the north west of England for the next week and more suggests the upcoming fixture may be delayed significantly due to rain and bad light. The forecast suggests this Test may not produce a definite results but on current form it’s difficult to see beyond England and the draw.
Soon after the end of the Second Test bookmakers were quoting the draw at 5/2. That price has now been revised in the anticipation of some rain in Manchester and the best price for a stalemate ids now 13/8. England are quoted as the favourites to win the match and thus take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series.
If England do go onto win this series they will be level with Australia in Ashes series won since the first set of matches in 1884. Australia will still have a significant lead in matches won and England are too far behind to overtake their rivals this summer. Twenty eight percent of these fixtures have ended as draws and that figure could have increased by the end of play early next week.
The First Test at Trent Bridge went to the last day and England won by just 14 runs. The Australians showed great spirit and determination and their last two men almost brought about a win. It was a low scoring match in which bowlers were in the ascendancy, especially James Anderson who took 10 wickets.
Anderson is now third in the list off all time wicket takers for England with only Bob Willis and Ian Botham ahead of him in the table. Botham himself believes Anderson can reach 500 wickers for his country but he needs five years of uninterrupted play and no injuries in order to reach that landmark. That figure may be beyond him but Anderson looks set to becoming the leading England wicket taker for England over the next few years.
Ian Bell scored the only century in the first match and backed that up with another ton in the second fixture. However, Joe Rot was the outstanding batsmen in the Second Test. His score of 180 puts him in a strong position to score most runs for England against Australia, an outcome tipped by the Bet Enthusiast service. We are also looking strong with our bet on Anderson to take most wickets for England, though our two Australian tips are off the pace after two matches played to date.
England won the Second Test by 347 runs and looked the better side in all departments. There was a solidity about the batting which was backed up with fine strike bowling, especially in the first innings when Australia were dismissed for 128 runs. That put too much pressure on the bowlers and England were able to take the wickets to win the match with few dramas.
England have won the latest two Ashes series, in England four summers ago and in Australia the following winter, which obviously was the summer in the Southern Hemisphere. Between 1989 and 2003 Australia held the Ashes but England reclaimed the prize during that exciting series in 2005. Australia won back the prize in 2007 but since then the urn has been in the hands of English cricket.
Monty Panesar has not played in this series to date. However, he could be considered for this week’s match on the basis of the 25 wickets he has taken in three Tests in Manchester. This selection could see England go into the match with two spinners as Graeme Swan will be looking to build on his tally of wickets at Lords with another productive series of overs and wickets.
Kevin Pietersen is also under consideration but he needs to recover from a injury in order to be selected. His gaffes in fraternising with the South Africans during last year’s series seem to have been forgiven and he now deserves a place in the team. Pietersen was born in South Africa and obviously has some allegiance to that country but he now plays for England and that should be his main focus in Test match cricket.
In terms of other team news the most significant selection for Australia could be that of David Warner. He was sent to play for Australia A in disgrace after hitting Joe Rot in a bar before the first Test. Warner was left out of the opening two Tests but would be a valuable addition to the Australian side. Warner scored 193 for Australia A against South Africa A last week and looks set to add to his tally of 19 Test caps.
If Pietersen is ruled out through injury England could turn to James Taylor who has been selected in a 14 man squad for cover if Pietersen is not fit to play. Taylor has scored 824 runs at an average of 58.85 in the County Championship this summer. He scored a century against Australia for Sussex last weekend so will be confident he can score runs against their attack if selected to play.