Cricket odds expert Iain Spragg previews this one…
Always look on the bright side of life. The optimistic advice of Monty Python’s Life of Brian and, it appears, a mantra Joe Root is determined to adhere to in the wake of England’s rollercoaster defeat in the second Test in Adelaide.
“We have shown in the first two Tests that we can outperform Australia,” the skipper insisted after his side were beaten by 120 runs last week. “The belief is there. We’re still massively in this series.”
England’s appalling record in Perth ahead of Thursday’s pivotal third Test, however, suggests otherwise.
One solitary win back in 1978 in 13 visits is not much of a platform to build on and few Test venues hold as many nightmarish memories for English cricketers as the dreaded WACA.
Seven defeats on the bounce in Perth tell its own story.
Four years ago the tourists ago were thumped by 150 runs and a repeat performance will see England surrender the Ashes with barely a whimper. It will also leave them precariously poised to complete a third series whitewash Down Under in succession.
The Aussies are red hot favourites at 13/25 to pile more misery on the Poms in Perth and pragmatic punters will look no further. Eternally optimistic England fans can get 15/4 on Root’s team while the draw, which would keep the series alive, is out at 17/4.
The fragility of England’s batting has been ruthlessly exposed by the pace of the Baggy Green attack. No England batsman has yet hit three figures while the home side already have two centurions in Shaun Marsh and Steve Smith.
The home side are 2/5 to register another individual ton in their first innings at the WACA while the tourists are evens to end their three-figure drought.
Marsh is the series’ leading run scorer with 196 and is 10/1 to be the top first innings batsman. Skipper Smith is hot on his heels with 187 and as short as 4/1 to lead the way while David Warner, 174 runs and counting, is marginally longer at 9/2.
The first innings odds on England’s misfiring top order reflect their recent struggles.
Root is the shortest priced of the tourists at 6/1 while Mark Stoneman, only one of three Englishmen to average over 30 in the series, is 11/1. Alastair Cook is 9/1 despite failing to pass 50 in his four innings.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) December 12, 2017
There have been two ducks Down Under this winter. Chris Woakes and Jimmy Anderson were the two unfortunate batsmen and Anderson is 3/1 to fail to trouble the scorers again. Captains Root and Smith are both 10/1 to go without scoring in either innings.
No-one has ever scored a double Ashes hundred at the WACA.
Five second innings wickets for Anderson in Adelaide did give the Barmy Army something to cheer last week but Perth holds bad memories for the Burnley Express after he was smacked for a world record 28 runs in one over four years ago.
At 11/2, however, he’s still the favourite to be England’s best first innings bowler in Perth. Stuart Broad is back at 13/2 while Craig Overton is 9/1 to build on what was a decent Test debut in Adelaide.
The odds on the Aussies seamers accurately reflect their performances in the Ashes so far.
Spinner Nathan Lyon is out at 13/2 despite claiming 11 wickets. His opposite number Moeen Ali has just two in the two Tests and is way back at 14/1 to belatedly make a significant impact on the series.