What an incredible Ashes series we’ve seen so far! The swings in momentum from one Test to the next has seen England regain the lead in the series as the hosts find themselves just one win away from regaining the Ashes. Who would’ve picked that at the start of the series?
England took control of the third Test early on day one when they rolled Australia for a paltry 136 in the first innings. Should Michael Clarke have bowled first on a wicket that offered some early life? The results would say, most definitely. The mantra of Australian cricket in recent times is to always bat first, but at the moment our biggest strength is our pace attack, so it shouldn't be thought of as a defensive move to back them to bowl first and strike first blood.
The venue for the fourth Test, Trent Bridge, copped a lot of criticism last year for producing a wicket that more resembled the sub-continent. It will be interesting to see what is produced here, but with England faring well on a lively deck at Edgbaston, you would have to think they will take the same approach here.
But that might end up working straight into Australia’s hands.
England’s major exponent of swing, James Anderson (pictured), has been ruled out of the fourth Test with a side strain. He was the chief destroyer in the first innings at Edgbaston and his ability to move the ball will be greatly missed. Steven Finn stepped up in a man-of-the-match performance, but with an injury cloud over Mark Wood, the English bowling line up is still unclear. Liam Plunkett and Mark Footitt have been called into the squad as cover.
Australia will also likely make one change with Adam Voges out of chances in the middle order. It may be the last time we see him in the baggy green with Shaun Marsh likely to be recalled. The flexibility of Marsh will allow the out-of-form skipper, Michael Clarke, drop down the order to his more comfortable position of number five with Marsh to slot in at four. Some have claimed that Clarke moving down the order is a defensive move, but England reshuffled their batting order with success in the third Test, so the Aussies should have no hesitation in trying to find the order that works best for them.
There has been some talk of including Peter Siddle at the expense of either Mitchell Starc or Josh Hazelwood. I find that decision hard to fathom when Hazelwood is the series leading wicket taker and Starc has the ability to destroy the opposition if he can get on song. There’s no doubt Starc has been wayward, but both Starc and Hazelwood have more wickets, better strike rates and a better average this series than Mitchell Johnson. Clearly the problem is with the batting so I wouldn’t be changing this bowling line up at all.
Verdict: Once again a result seems likely, and all the money has been with Australia who have been backed into a best price of $2.10 at Ladbrokes. With Anderson out, I think this shifts things greatly in favour of the Aussies, and that is the key to this match, but their batting must steel themselves to make a big score. If they can indeed level the series at 2-2, it will setup a mouth-watering finish to the series.
Australia to Win - $2.10 at Ladbrokes (2 units)
With England securing a second victory, our two series predictions have resulted in a loss of 2 units which is disappointing, but we’re in great shape with several of our other futures bets.
Chris Rogers has already passed his line mark and is the leading Australian run scorer, just ahead of Steve Smith. Adam Voges is also well under his line having played the minimum three Tests, and looking unlikely to play any further, so that one looks in the bag.
Josh Hazelwood leads the wicket takers and is currently four ahead of Mitchell Johnson in their head-to-head match bet. Nathan Lyon is also three wickets ahead of Moeen Ali in their head-to-head match bet.
Speaking of Lyon, he collected a few runs in the third Test, so he’s still a chance to cover his line bet. We need him to make 19 more runs in the final two Tests. Also Mitchell Starc made a nice fifty so he’s only eight more runs from covering his line which we would expect him to do.
Series Betting Total: +15.105 units
We stayed away from match betting on the 3rd Test but cleaned up with Chris Rogers leading the Australians in the first innings for a nice +8 unit collect. Josh Hazelwood also chopped the leading Australian wicket takers in the first innings for another +4.125 units for our followers.
We’ll take advantage of the great promotion at Sportsbet to make a play on the leading run scorer markets for both England and Australia.
The value we had been taking in Chris Rogers now appears gone in the Sportsbet market. Instead we'll get behind the skipper with Michael Clarke offering us a good price to rebound as a champion should.
We'll also back Chris Rogers at Luxbet where we can get a better price, and also a bonus bet refund if he scores fifty.
Michael Clarke Top Australian Run Scorer 1st Inns - $6.00 at Sportsbet (1 unit)
Chris Rogers Top Australian Run Scorer 1st Inns - $5.00 at Luxbet (1 unit)
Ian Bell looked like he enjoyed being back in the number three role as he picked up a pair of fifties in the 3rd Test. Joe Root certainly looks the most dangerous England batsman, and we still think that Ben Stokes offers a good value option, but the price on Ian Bell with money back if he makes a fifty looks like a great bet.
Ian Bell Top England Run Scorer 1st Inns - $5.50 at Sportsbet (3 units)
Despite leading the series for wicket takers, Josh Hazelwood continues to be underrated by most. This guy is a gun and there should be no question over his position in the side. We'll back him again for most wickets and hopefully he grabs a bag to silence the critics.
Josh Hazelwood Most Wickets Australia 1st Inns - $4.33 at Bet365 (2 units)
Take note: Any of the tips in this article are simply the author’s opinion, so bet at your own risk and always gamble responsibly. Also be sure to check out the Before You Bet Twitter Page for all our thoughts in the lead up to bets! Happy punting!
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