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
- England won by 1 wicket
4th Test September 4th to 8th Old Trafford
5th Test September 12th to 16th The Oval
Wow, what a test match! Not much more I can say that hasn’t already been said or written about regarding the 3rd Ashes Test 2019. Not many would have given England a chance when Jack Leach joined Ben Stokes at the crease with 72 still needed. One of the greatest test matches and certainly one of the greatest innings of all time. Did someone say test cricket was dead? I don’t think so.
And so on to the 4th test with the series fascinatingly poised at 1-1. A great shame that there’ll be no James Anderson for the rest of the series, the Lancashire seamer having been ruled out with a calf injury for the rest of the summer. The idea of England’s leading wicket taker and Jofra Archer opening together would be mouth-watering for England fans and pretty a scary prospect for a very shaky Australian batting line-up.
With Anderson out, England have called up Craig Overton to add to Sam Curran and the XI from Headingley. Overton, who last played for England in March 2018, has picked up seven wickets in three tests since making his debut against Australia in 2017 and looks likely to play at Old Trafford. Woakes averages 22.78 with the ball in England and has 9 wickets at 29 a piece in this series. However, Joe Root has looked reluctant to bowl him of late, illustrating a lack of belief in his skills. In the last two Tests Woakes has only bowled 44 overs, compared to the 64 bowled by Stuart Broad and 75 by Archer. England have also confirmed Joe Denly will open to allow Jason Roy to bat at 4. The hope being protection from the new ball will allow Roy to improve on his miserable total of 57 ashes runs in 6 innings.
Despite the Headingley result Australia have reason to be confident. They welcome the series leading scorer Steven Smith back into their middle order and have 6 fully fit and firing seamers to select from when conditions at Old Trafford are known. Mitchell Marsh made runs in the recent tour game at Derby but Matthew Wade, despite his recent struggles, looks set to retain his place. Marnus Labuschagne will move up to 3 and allow Smith to return into his favoured number 4 position. Usman Khawaja will miss out with Marcus Harris to continue at the top of the order with David Warner. Mitchell Starc’s impressive outing at Derby suggests he will get his first outing on a pitch that promises to be the fastest of the series.
Possible 4th Test Line-ups:
England: Rory Burns, Joe Denly, Joe Root*, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow+, Jos Buttler, Craig Overton, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, Jack Leach
Australia: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Travis Head, Mathew Wade, Tim Paine*+, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon
Like the 2nd Test weather is threatening to play a significant part at Old Trafford, with plenty of showers around the Manchester area. The draw price has been backed into 11/4 on the exchanges having been matched as big as 6/1. Ladbrokes are offering 11/4 on the draw while Bet 365 offer England at 13/10. England have a strong Old Trafford record in recent years. They have won 4 out of the last 5 Test matches played at the venue over the last decade. However, should the hosts remain favourites given the return of Smith? The 17/10 available on Australia does look big.
England are 6/4 to win the series with Bet 365, Australia 9/4 with Ladbrokes and the Draw 2/1 with Betfred. A drawn series will be enough for Australia to retain the ashes, and they are 4/7 to take the urn home.
Many eyes will be on Stokes again. World Cup hero and Man of the Match in the last two Ashes tests, he is 8/1 to repeat the feat at Old Trafford with Bet365. The firm also allow you to back his Player Performance to make up Over 125.5 at 4/6. The market offers 1 point per run scored, 20 points per wicket taken and 10 points for each catch. He averages 122 points per match in his career to date, but as we have seen he is in the form of his life presently. He averages 162 during this series and has scored more than 125.5 points in each test thus far. The spread quote with Sporting Index is 130-140.
The final market I am going to bring to your attention is Runs at Fall of 1st Wicket where Bet 365 have priced the line at 27.5. Neither side have made it past the market line in their 1st innings this series. England have recorded opening partnerships of 22, 0 and 10, while Australia have fared no better with 2, 11 and 12. The combined average opening partnership is 9.5. With all the bowlers having had a chance to rest and recuperate since Leeds, and overhead conditions on Day 1 bowler friendly, it is hard to expect either side to buck the trend and score 28 or more before a wicket falls.