By the time the fifth match of a cricket Test series rolls around, it’s usually my wife who will say to me, “Geez, is the cricket still going?” Now, after a horrific fourth Test match for Australia, most of the country are burying their heads in the sand to avoid the thought of another Ashes embarrassment in the fifth and final Test match at The Oval starting Thursday.
Is the cricket still going? Yes, sadly, it is.
It’s been a nightmare tour for Australia that was brought to its knees when skittled for just 60 runs before lunch on Day 1 of the fourth Test. Atrocious. There was simply no coming back from there as the Aussies were humbled and the Poms regained the coveted Ashes urn.
We expected Australia to bounce back with the series on the line in the 4th Test and England’s most experienced bowler in James Anderson on the sidelines, but it was his partner in crime Stuart Broad who decimated the Aussies. Now they have to somehow pick themselves back up for one last hoorah.
So what’s left to play for?
England will be gunning for total humiliation and the World #2 Test ranking if they can win the fifth Test to win the series 4-1. If he's over his side strain, James Anderson will slot back into the side with Mark Wood looking the one to miss out. [Update: Anderson has now been ruled out, so Wood is likely to play.] Other than that change, the side is settled, confident and in the sort of form that will be hard to beat. Joe Root has led the way with the bat with over 200 runs more than any other Englishman for the series to prove himself as world class.
All the focus is on an Australian team in disarray. Michael Clarke has announced his retirement following the Test, while Chris Rogers has also now done the same. With clouds hanging over the careers of the likes of Brad Haddin, Shane Watson, Adam Voges and Shaun Marsh, this match will be signal the end of an era for Australian cricket.
Steve Smith will take over as captain following the series, but Australia will have to turn to youth to provide support and build for the future.
Before that, it’s one last fling at the stumps for Australia. Mitch Marsh will likely come into the side after coach Darren Lehmann publicly stated it was a mistake to leave him out of the fourth Test. No doubt it was a surprising decision but the result was hardly due to the lack of a fifth bowler. It’s clear that batting is the problem, as we postured at the start of the series, so adding perceived batting depth was not an incorrect decision.
As it stands Shaun Marsh failed twice and Adam Voges squeaked out a meaningless fifty. So it looks like Voges will get one last shot and Shaun will make way for brother Mitch.
There has also been talk of playing Pat Cummins or even Peter Siddle in the fifth Test. The series has most definitely not been lost due to the bowlers. Johnson, Starc, Hazelwood and Lyon have all contributed and I would like to see that combination retained for the final Test. Workload will be the main concern. Johnson and Hazelwood both get a rest after this series, while Starc stays on for the ODI series. Logic would say Starc might be rested, but he was superb in the fourth Test so that would be a harsh call. It seems that the pressure will be on Hazelwood to be replaced by Cummins, but we hope to see the same bowling combination as Cummins will have plenty of opportunities in the years to come. [Update: Unfortunately, Hazelwood has now been ruled out with "niggles" so it looks like Cummins will play]
Verdict: It seems like another result is inevitable, but how can anyone put any faith in Australia scoring enough runs to be competitive? England again look the value, but we will be sitting out match betting and focusing on other plays.
England have secured the Ashes, and we have missed the mark with our series score and match predictions. Fortunately we have been on the money with our other futures plays which should result in some nice profit after the fifth Test wraps up. Let’s have a look at where our plays stand.
Australia to win series: -1 unit loss
Australia to win 3-0: -1 unit loss
Australia to win 3-1: -1 unit loss
Chris Rogers Top Run Scorer Australia: 1 unit @ $7.50
Chris Rogers Over 300.5 series runs: 5 units @ $1.88 = +4.4 unit win
The most consistent batsmen of the tour, Chris Rogers can retire with his head held high that he got the absolute most out of his talents during his time wearing the Baggy Green. With 427 runs for the series, Rogers is 72 runs ahead of Steve Smith and 104 runs ahead of Dave Warner. A solid finish to the series, and his career, should net us a nice profit here at odds of $7.50.
Adam Voges Under 300.5 series runs – 2 units @ $1.87
Shane Watson Under 285.5 series runs – 2 units @ $1.87 = push
Two major disappointments of the tour which was no real surprise to us. Despite a fifty last Test, Voges is still only at 125 runs for the series, so he’ll need a major score to challenge his line. That bet looks home. Meanwhile Watson only played one Test, and with a three Test minimum for this market, that bet will be a push.
Nathan Lyon Over 47.5 series runs: 4 units @ $1.83
Mitchell Starc Over 105.5 series runs: 3 units @ $1.88
Two fun markets that we were pretty confident on but are going to give us a nice sweat in the final Test. Lyon didn’t even bat in the second Test, but is up to 42 runs for the series, so we’re six little runs away from landing that bet. Starc scored a nice fifty in the third Test but rather frustratingly scored just 1 and 0 in the fourth Test, leaving us hanging just seven runs short of his line. We hope to get both of these bets home but it’s closer than we would’ve liked! At least Australia will probably bat twice!
Josh Hazelwood Leading Series Wicket Taker Australia: 2 units @ $4.00
We were going great guns with Josh Hazelwood until Mitch Starc produced some magic with six wickets in the fourth Test to take the lead with 18 wickets to Hazelwood’s 16. Nathan Lyon (12) and Mitchell Johnson (11) appear out of contention. If Starc gets rested from the fifth Test, then we're in great shape for Hazelwood to nudge ahead. Worst case is Hazelwood is the one who doesn’t play and our bet is toast. Hopefully we get a sweat and Hazelwood can have a big game. [Update: Unfortunately, Hazelwood has now been ruled out of the 5th Test with "niggles" so sadly this bet will now be a loss]
Nathan Lyon vs Moeen Ali Most Series Wickets: 5 units @ $1.37
Josh Hazelwood vs Mitchell Johnson Most Series Wickets: 2 units @ $2.05
Two bets that should land for us. Our biggest bet of the series was on Lyon against Ali, and although the price was short and Ali started the series well, Lyon’s 12 wickets has him three ahead of Ali. Hazelwood is five wickets ahead of Johnson so that one also should land unless Johnson has a big game.
Series Betting Total: +7.105 units
Despite scoring just 10 runs in Australia’s capitulation in the 1st innings at Trent Bridge, Michael Clarke incredibly looked a chance to lead the run scorers, but Mitchell Johnson snuck home with a score of 13. So that was a close miss. We also missed the mark with our other run scorer bets for the fourth Test but hope to turn it around for the final Test to end the series with a nice profit.The prices on Australia’s top three batsmen are pretty short in the Aussie leading run scorer market, and I’ve lost faith in Clarke, Voges and Shaun Marsh. The value looks to be in Mitch Marsh, but at the time of writing, the team has not yet been named. There is a risk that he might not play, but the overwhelming evidence is that he will be picked, so his price and form looks a great value play with the Sportsbet money back promo.
Mitch Marsh Top Australian Run Scorer 1st Inns - $13.00 at Sportsbet (1 unit)
Ian Bell missed out last match but looks in a good place batting at number three for England. Joe Root is still the one the Aussies need out cheaply, but Bell is capable of a big score and looks the value for the Poms with the Sportsbet money back promo if he makes a fifty.
Ian Bell Top England Run Scorer 1st Inns - $5.50 at Sportsbet (1 unit)
There is some value about the Opening Partnership market for this Test match. The Australian combination of Rogers and Warner have been pretty strong during their short time together, and both have been solid in this series. Meanwhile England’s only real concern this series has been Adam Lyth at the top of the order who has scored just 86 runs this series. After the horrible effort last Test, Sportsbet is giving us a good price on the Aussies so we’ll snap that up.
Australia to score the highest Opening Partnership (1st Inns) - $1.80 at Sportsbet (2 units)
Beside the top three in the order, Australia’s batting has been woeful his series. They have only scored over 350 once this series and that was on a favourable batting track at Lord’s with Smith and Rogers scoring most of the runs. No doubt we’ll see another lively pitch at The Oval and the Aussies bats just haven’t proven they can handle the conditions. Their total score line looks high and we’ll be playing the unders.
Australia 1st Innings Under 381.5 runs - $1.85 at Sportsbet (3 units)
Ben Stokes was enormous in the second innings at Trent Bridge with six wickets, but taking that out of the equation, he’s only had two other wickets for the entire series. With James Anderson likely to slot back in, the need for Stokes is immediately reduced. No doubt his confidence is high, but as the fourth choice seamer, it seems a good spot to take the under.
Ben Stokes Under 1.5 wickets 1st Innings - $1.88 at Sportsbet (2 units)
Moeen Ali started out the series with five wickets in the first Test match, but has only taken four wickets in the three Tests since. The pitches have become more suited to the quick bowlers and with Australia’s batting woes, spin has rarely been needed. Ali didn’t bowl in the first innings at Trent Bridge and he delivered six fruitless, expensive overs in the second innings. I feel that two wickets in the first innings is a real stretch.
Moeen Ali Under 1.5 wickets 1st innings - $1.67 at Ladbrokes (3 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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