Ed Hawkins picks out three in-play wagers, including prices at 4/1 and 3/1, for the fifth day action from the SCG...
"In the last five years no Aussie bowlers has taken more fourth-innings wickets than Lyon. Why? Because he gets through so many overs"
England runs a sell
Australia are 2.6613/8 to take ten England wickets on the final day and keep their (and punters') hopes of the 5-0 whitewash alive. The draw is the favourite at 1.645/8 after a surprisingly negative declaration. England are 55.054/1
England have been set an irrelevant 388. They survived 11 overs on the final evening but would be grateful that they didn't have to negotiate at least twice that.
The key is the weather forecast. It has been unreliably gloomy throughout the contest but if the meteorologists are correct, then there will be questions asked as to why Australia batted on so long.
Weather forecast: Day five:
A 60% chance of rain for the first hour dropping to 40% for the rest of the day. It's a forecast that suggests Australia need as many overs as possible. Although they will be encouraged that the predicted wet day four never materialised.
With a clear day we would ordinarily be able to work out an innings runs wager based on run rates. But Sportsbook have not set England's innings runs.
One suspects, however, that going low is the only way to play. It keeps all outcomes (a Australia win, draw and washout) on side.
The fourth innings at Adelaide is a decent precedent. England will need a similar rearguard attitude and Jos Buttler's 207-ball 26 is their blueprint. In that innings the run rate was 1.69. Towards the end of Buttler's knock he was turning down runs.
If England were to score at a rate of around 1.8 from, say, a possible 70 overs then there is a rationale for a more speculative than scientific wager. Laying 200 or more and 225 or more should be available at around 1.695/7 and 2.245/4 respectively on the exchange once the market fully materialises. Bet here.
With that sort of score in the offing, Zak Crawley looks big at 4/1 for top England bat. Yes, we know Joe Root's durability makes him the most likely (he is 21/10} but Crawley already has 22 to his name. Another 20 or so could win it. Crawley is unlikely, whether you like it or not, to put his shots away.
Another interesting price is the 3/1 that Nathan Lyon finishes as Australia's top wicket-taker. Given that Jack leach took four in the third, Australia's route to glory is clear. Bet both markets here.
In the last five years no Aussie bowlers has taken more fourth-innings wickets than Lyon. Why? Because he gets through so many overs. He's bowled almost 150 more than Pat Cummins, the second most deployed bowler. We expect Lyon to bowl all afternoon.
Long-term there was an interesting insight into Pat Cummins' captaincy style. Time will tell, of course, but his declaration was surprisingly negative. Does it suggest he is a captain which urges on the side of caution?
Setting England 388 is, frankly, ridiculous. In the context of the series and the weather forecast. England are yet to make 300 and Australia need all the overs they can get.
It is a particularly surprising tactic from a bowling captain. Cummins really should be aware of the time and rhythm required for a bowling group with interruptions likely. He should be freed from the psychological vice of the batting captain, obsessed with runs as currency.
It is not the first time, nor the last, that those with a cold-eyed and logical mindset would have, momentarily, of course, lost it and screamed at the TV: you need overs not runs you mug!
Usman Khawaja revealed that 350 was the plan. So why keep going? That's another clue. Cummins was waiting on Khawaja getting a century. Cummins, then, is leader like the majority before him who has the bizarre impression that it is acceptable for individual honours to jeopardise team achievements.
Ashes series day wins tally
Australia 13.5 England 1.5
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