Cricket | The Ashes – England v Australia | Fifth Test | Preview and Odds
It has to be said, given where this Australia side was in March 2018, to be flying home with the Ashes for the first time since 2001 is some achievement.
Although his captaincy has been much maligned over the series, Tim Paine has become the first Aussie captain to retain the urn in England since Steve Waugh and in truth, who can argue that he hasn’t done a magnificent job.
Ironically, given the scandal that led to his appointment as captain in the first place, he could not have done it without the imperious Steve Smith, who has an outside chance of breaking Don Bradman’s record of 974 runs in an Ashes series. A record that has stood since 1930. He needs a hefty (even for him) 303 runs in the fifth Test at The Oval.
Our cricket betting expert previews the fifth Ashes Test and gives you the best bets to look out for.
Perhaps surprisingly following another poor performance from some of the out of form batsmen, England have named an unchanged squad for the final match of the series.
Rory Burns has probably done enough to secure his place in the medium to long term after passing fifty for the third time in the series at Old Trafford, but will still need a partner.
Joe Denly looks set to have one final chance to nail down his spot, after a patient second innings 53 at Old Trafford. With the likes of Dominic Sibley pushing for a spot alongside Burns, Denly will need a big score in this one if he wants to be on the plane to New Zealand. He’s an outside 12/1 to be top run-scorer in the match at Grosvenorsport.com.
Another man whose spot is very much up for grabs is Jason Roy. He looked more promising at four at Old Trafford but proved once again with his dismissals that his technique and hard hands are not ideal for Test cricket. Ollie Pope will feel that number four spot should be his during the winter and Roy will need an outside 33/1, Man of the Match performance to keep his place.
Craig Overton could well miss out in this one, despite his courageous second innings resilience after looking largely ineffective with the ball. England will also be keen to give Sam Curran a game after spending most of the summer carrying drinks. Curran has already proved he can perform with bat and ball at Test level and his left-arm seam would offer something different for England. Curran is 12/1 to be top wicket-taker in the match.
Frankly, if it wasn’t for Ben Stokes’ heroics at Lord’s and Headingley, England could easily have been 4-0 down. Australia have been much the better team throughout the series and deserve to be going home with the urn.
Smith and Marnus Labuschagne aside, their batting order hasn’t looked much stronger than England’s. Travis Head and Matthew Wade did well not to lose their place at Old Trafford and will do well to avoid that fate this time out. Usman Khawaja may well come back in for either of them and is available at 11/1 to be top run-scorer in the match.
Of course, you can’t look much further than Smith for top-run scorer at 5/4.
One thing the Aussies have done well, and which England will need to learn from ahead of a future trip down under, is rotate their seam bowlers. Mitchell Starc made just his first appearance of the series at Old Trafford and ripped through England by dismissing Stokes and Bairstow in the first innings. Starc is 7/1 to be the top wicket-taker.
Josh Hazelwood has also benefitted from this rotation, only coming into the side in the Headingley Test. He’s been superb since then, producing some nightmarish 90mph reverse swing that England have simply not dealt with. He got another six wickets at Old Trafford and I wouldn’t bet against him bettering that here. He’s available at 4/1 to be top wicket-taker at Grosvenorsport.com.