A world of pain
When England reduced Australia to 12 for three, they may have suddenly reckoned they could compete after all. But they would have been kidding themselves. They actually hadn’t bowled that well and in their heart of hearts they probably knew it.
Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head set about proving that point. Their approach was ‘buccaneering’ or a ‘counter-attack’. Not really. Hitting half-volleys, wide balls and half-trackers to the boundary is standard.
There was a clear gulf in quality from Stuart Broad and Ollie Robinson to Mark Wood and Chris Woakes. Wood, although a tryer, is not really needed on a green surface so it is a shame that James Anderson was not fit enough to play. Harking back to Brisbane England really should heed such lessons: if your best men are fit, pick them.
Therein lies a problem for England. Robinson, comfortably England’s best bowler on tour, suffered a back spasm in his first over after lunch. Already without Ben Stokes, if Robinson is half-fit then England are in a world of pain.
The match odds market recognises that and overwhelmingly awarded Australia the day. They are 1.4840/85 with the draw 5.04/1 and England 7.6013/2.
Much focus will be on Australia’s innings runs. Sportsbookgo over/under 230/5 at 10/11. With only one recognised batsman left (Alex Carey) it very much feels like a sell, although the new ball is probably too far off (20 overs) to assist.
What prevents us from standing up a wager is Robinson. If we were sure he was fit and firing we would get involved. But in the absence of clarity, taking the bet now only to wake up in the small hours to news that England have only three seamers to choose from would sting.
Big prices attract
Timing is everything in pink ball Tests. The new ball does a lot but then there is a long period of calm before the lights come on and all hell can break loose. England could find themselves batting just when conditions are at their most potent for bowlers.
Much has been made of the techniques of England’s batsmen on this tour. And if movement is extravagant the likes of the returning Rory Burns and Zak Crawley look vulnerable.
Burns, he of the crooked stance, and Crawley, he of the crooked bat, look cheap wickets in testing conditions. We are not moved by quotes of 6/1 and 5/1 respectively for top England bat.
Instead we look further down the order. A classic England collapse could be on the cards. Ollie Pope, perhaps rejuvenated by his cameo with the gloves in Sydney, is technically solid. It’s temperament that has been the problem.
Despite this we know that the 7/1 is out of line with his win rate. Sam Billings has nothing to lose at 9s, either. Both bets are available with Sportsbook although Pope is available at 9.6017/2 on the exchange and Billings 11.5021/2. Chris Woakes, who topped in the second dig at Adelaide, will be a fancy at 22s. Likewise Mark Wood at 50s. Wood is much improved with the willow and it may not take much more than 40-odd to win this. Bet https://www.betfair.com/sport/cricket/test-matches/australia-v-england/31102922.
We are very happy with the 11/4 that we have snaffled for Mitchell Starc, the best pink-ball bowler in the world, to take most wickets for Australia. Read the analysis here.
Ashes series day wins tally
Australia 14.5 England 2.5
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