WILL England win the Ashes this week at Trent Bridge? Josh Healey (@joshhealey04) picks out the best bets.
England v Australia | Thursday – Monday | Sky Sports
After an emphatic victory at fortress Edgbaston, England go into the fourth Test match with a 2-1 lead. Trent Bridge plays host to what could be yet another unfathomable game of cricket in this mind-boggling series. At the fourth time of asking will we see a well overdue close contest?
Will England cruise to another victory to claim the precious urn? Or will Australia bounce back a la at Lord’s, further dispelling the myth of ‘momentum’? It really is anyone’s guess, and I for one will be avoiding the match winner market like the plague.
For the tourists, Shaun Marsh could come in for a misfiring Adam Voges, but the erratic Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood now seem likely to retain their places ahead of Peter Siddle, despite the latter potentially bringing more control to proceedings.
England’s devastating loss of Jimmy Anderson has been well documented, and understandably so. The man who has been the backbone of England’s bowling attack for so long possesses masterful control which produces wickets by the bucket-load as well as tying up one end, allowing the likes of Stuart Broad and Steven Finn to thrive at the other.
England’s all-time leading wicket-taker has missed just five Tests since 2009; the hosts are not used to life without him. His impeccable average of 19.2 (53 wickets) at Trent Bridge further highlights the extent of this loss.
Moving onto the betting, and it’s worth noting that Chris Rogers has been the leading light for Australia up to now, topping the series run charts with 385 to his name. The 37 year old veteran is likely playing his last Test series and that is only enhancing his already steely determination. Understandably, we’re looking to get on his side here.
It is impossible to ignore the 9/2 quote with William Hill on Rogers claiming top batsman for the tourists, especially given that his first innings scores read 95, 173 and 52 (remember top batsman bets only include the first innings). A winner on 2/3 occasions this series, he has only been trumped once in the first innings, and that was by Steve Smith’s double ton at Lord’s.
Up till now, Rogers has been the rock holding Australia’s brittle batting order together. At Edgbaston he watched wickets fall around him but continued to score runs at a progressive rate. This man is a fighter and he could thrive in the added pressure and intensity of this crunch match, particularly in comparison with his many struggling colleagues.
I’m also looking to side with England’s leading run-scorer this series. The ever impressive Joe Root has hit 308 runs, way ahead of the rest. His first innings scores read 134, 1 and 63, meaning punters would’ve been collecting their winnings on 2/3 occasions had they backed him for top England batsman.
A price of 3/1 with Bet365 is certainly fair, and could even be considered a smidgen of value. Funnily enough, whenever I have backed Root he has failed me, and that is why I’m often reluctant to put my faith in him. But his form shows no signs of subsiding and it would be rude not have a punt on England’s best batsman in what could be tricky conditions.
Two more bets worthy of a punt, and it’s that market once again – player performance with Bet365. Firstly, Josh Hazlewood looks a fair shout to notch 103+ points. It’s a bet that would’ve landed in 2/3 this series as the Aussie paceman has notched scores of 126, 100 (where he didn’t get a chance to bat) and 105.
They are pretty tight to the line, but after a poor performance at Edgbaston I fancy him to get back on form with the ball. After all, Hazlewood tops the wicket charts this series with 14, and there’s every chance he can go well on what should hopefully be another seaming wicket.
Secondly, Australia’s wicket-keeper Peter Nevill deserves some recognition and could prove a shrewd pick in this market. His line is set at 89.5 and that looks reasonable to me, especially given that he has surpassed it in 2/2 with scores of 115 and 91. Nevill showed commendable maturity in the second innings at Edgbaston where he ground out a gutsy fifty to give the Aussies a glimmer of hope.
That was no fluke, and his 764 runs at an average of 76.4 in the 2014-15 Sheffield Shield reinforce that. Nevill also looks to be an accomplished gloveman, and with the ball likely to nip around at Trent Bridge he could be in business behind the stumps.
England v Australia – Chris Rogers Top Australia batsman (9/2 William Hill)
England v Australia – Joe Root Top England batsman (3/1 Bet365)
England v Australia – Josh Hazlewood 103 & over Performance Points (5/6 Bet365)
England v Australia – Peter Nevill 90 & over Performance Points (5/6 Bet365)