1st Test August 1st to 5th Edgbaston
- Australia won by 251 runs
2nd Test August 14th to 18th Lord’s
- Match drawn
3rd Test August 22nd to 26th Headingley
4th Test September 4th to 8th Old Trafford
5th Test September 12th to 16th The Oval
Despite losing over 5 sessions to rain, the 2nd Ashes Test match was a thrilling one. It was great for traders with a volatile draw market, shortening and drifting aggressively with every wicket and weather update. It also contained a captivating eight-over spell from Jofra Archer. The England debutant exceeded 90mph with 16 consecutive deliveries and caused Steven Smith many problems. That spell may well have a huge impact on the rest of the series. The most significant moment was when Archer hit Smith in the neck with a quick and well directed bouncer. The blow causing Smith to retire hurt, and while he did return, he was not his normal assured self. While England have named an unchanged squad of 12 for the 3rd Test, Australia have confirmed Smith is not fit to participate.
Smith has scored 378 runs at an average of 126. That is 37% of Australia’s runs in the 3rd Innings he has been able to bat during. While Marnus Labuschagne batted well as his replacement, it is easy to see the impact Smith has on the side. The news that Smith is out explains why England are once again odds on.
As we move to Leeds, England are best priced at 4/6 to win the match with Bet 365. Only 1 out of the last 19 tests at Headingley have ended in a draw, and with a good forecast in Yorkshire is very hard to see the match ending in a draw. Best priced at 13/2 the selection is receiving little interest, with most of the money being placed on the hosts. However, England have lost 3 out of their last 5 matches in Leeds and their batting remains unconvincing.
Looking at the teams, I expect England to field the same 11. With Smith out for Australia Marnus Labuschagne will come in. With Travis Head seen practicing short leg catches in training Cameron Bancroft might be dropped. They may also change their bowling attack again. James Pattinson was rested for Lords, while Mitchell Starc is still waiting for his first Test of the series.
Possible 3rd Test Line-ups:
England: Rory Burns, Jason Roy, Joe Root*, Joe Denly, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow+, Chris Woakes, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, Jack Leach
Australia: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Travis Head, Mathew Wade, Tim Paine*+, Pat Cummins, James Pattinson, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon
Focus, as always, will turn to pitch conditions as we built up the match. Expect grass to be left on the strip, and seam movement to be available for the quick bowlers. Yorkshire did score 520 batting first in the last County Championship match at Headlingley, before bowling Somerset out twice to win by an Innings at 73 runs. The ground averages 1041 runs per test match in the last 10 years. Bet 365 price match runs at 970.5 with 5/6 available either side.
Joe Root has struggled this series, dropping down the world batting rankings to 9th. However, he is still 7/2 favourite to top score for England in their 1st innings. Ben Stokes, on the back of his Lord’s hundred might be a more appealing option at 5/1.
In the bowlers market its all eyes on Archer, and what he can produce in his 2nd Test. Ben Stokes believes that ‘the sky is the limit’ for the young quick and expectations will be high for further wickets. ‘He gives another dimension to our bowling attack. The first innings he bowled 29 overs but his last spell of eight was one of the best out-and-out fast bowling spells I have seen since I started playing,’ he added. If he continues to bowl such a large proportion of England’s overs, backing him Top England 1st Innings Bowler at 9/4 with Bet 365 is very tempting.
Without Smith, the Top Australian batsman becomes a very different market. David Warner has yet to make double figures these series but had an impressive World Cup and still averages 46.91 in Test cricket and 43.94 against England. He is 7/2 with Betfred. Smith aside, the only other Australian to make a hundred this series is Matthew Wade, and he can be backed at 7/1 with Betfred. Head is 7/1 with Bet 365. I don’t expect these prices to remain for long.
Pat Cummins remains the number one bowler according to the last World rankings and he is 9/4 favourite with Bet 365 to take the most wickets for Australia in the 1st Innings.
Get ready for another exciting 5 days, as England attempt to square the series at 1-1. Momentum is with them.