WILL England bounce back from their 2nd Test mauling? Josh Healey (@joshhealey04) takes a look at the odds.
Ashes 3rd Test | Wednesday – Sunday | Sky Sports
With the horror show at Lord’s out of the way, it is best to look forward, not backwards. Of course, the England faithful, who ironically are often quite the opposite, will lambast any player showing even slight signs of incompetence, but that’s nothing new.
To be fair to the doom mongers, the defeat at Lord’s was a heavy and humiliating one, and there are justified concerns regarding certain players, but incessant chopping and changing is not a recipe for success.
The first Test triumph appears to have escaped the minds of many England fans even quicker than the Australian whitewashes of 2006-07 and 2013. Many believe the Aussies will now steamroll England, but it is foolish to write off the hosts at this stage.
Heading into what is sure to be a fascinating encounter, Chris Rogers is a doubt for Australia, meaning Shaun Marsh could come in to open for the tourists. Meanwhile, for the hosts, the in-form Jonny Bairstow replaces the hopelessly out-of-form Gary Ballance. Bairstow is likely to slot in at number five with Ian Bell and Joe Root both shifting up one place in the order.
We have been served up with two benign pitches so far; the types of surfaces that see matches played out in a monotonous fashion. Win the toss, bat first, pile on the runs, and let the insurmountable scoreboard, pressure and later deteriorating pitch do the rest. Could that be about to change at Edgbaston though? The groundsmen certainly hope so, as they aim to offer something for both bat and ball through providing a wicket with more pace, bounce and carry.
Despite the bland surfaces on offer, neither Test match has entered the fifth day. Interestingly, we can side with this trend in the betting – 888Sport offer the ‘Test match end’ market, and I’m opting for ‘Day 4 – Session 2’ at odds of 13/2.
From 2001, 11 Test matches have been held at Edgbaston, eight of which were decided on the fourth day. 5/8 finished in the second session and 2/8 in the third. Meanwhile both games this series have been concluded on the third session of day four.
This is a bet that would’ve landed in 45% of Test matches here since 2001; an alarming success rate given the 13/2 price. If you consider the two matches so far have been fast-movers on lifeless decks, then a pitch with more spice could see an even shorter lived match.
I feel as though we could have an innings per day type scenario on our hands here. The runs could flow quickly and the wickets fall regularly; if so, we are likely to have another four day finish on our hands.
Who could forget the last Ashes Test that occurred here – the unforgettable two run victory for England in 2005. It is nothing but a pipe dream to anticipate something as memorable, but perhaps this will be the first fiercely competitive encounter of the series.
Next in line is the ‘performance points’ market with Bet365, and this time round it looks to be worth siding with the in-form Stuart Broad. A points line of 105 seems reasonable given that in the two matches so far he has accumulated tallies of 126 and 122.
Looking further back, and to the recent series against New Zealand, Broad amassed huge scores of 209 and 133. As a result, it’s a bet that would’ve landed in four of the last four, so you cannot grumble at odds of 5/6.
Broad has found rhythm with his bowling, but it’s worth noting his batting looks to be reinvigorated too after a barren run. He scored 13 and 69 against New Zealand, before chipping in with 22 and 46 this series. I understand these are not huge numbers, but they are handy contributions nonetheless.
Finally, I turn my attention to the man of the match market where Mitchell Marsh looks an interesting prospect at 20/1 with Bet365. The 23 year old replaced veteran Shane Watson for the second Test and justified his place, chipping in with three wickets as well as a quickfire 27 from 19 in Australia’s second innings.
Marsh has performed well in all of the tour matches, having scored hundreds against Kent and Essex before the first Test, as well as notching a half century and claiming four wickets against Derbyshire just last week. There is no denying this is a significant step down from international level, but it shows right now that both form and confidence are on his side.
The Aussie all-rounder bats at number six and provides relief as the fifth bowler. If the pitch lives up to its billing then the top order could struggle, and so against the older ball Marsh may have a better chance of scoring runs. A couple of fifties or a century accompanied by a handful of wickets may be enough to secure a man of the match performance, and Marsh is undoubtedly capable of that.
Ashes 3rd Test – Test match to end Day 4 Session 2 (13/2 888Sport)
Ashes 3rd Test – Stuart Broad Performance Points 105 and over (5/6 Bet365)
Ashes 3rd Test – Mitchell Marsh Man Of The Match (20/1 Bet365)
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