Ed Hawkins says England should make Australia toil on day three of the second Ashes Test in Adelaide and finds an in-play wager to suit...
"The pitch is excellent, the fielding conditions are harsh and the pink ball does next to nothing from about the 11th over."
England can tough it out
England will reckon they have been unlucky so far on tour with dropped catches, the plethora of plays and misses, and wickets off no balls. So an electrical storm just before close on day two suggests the Gods have taken pity.
It's all nonsense, of course. There's nothing unlucky about ill-discipline. Nor picking entirely the wrong attack for the second game running. And the early finish in Adelaide merely prevented more of it being exposed. Haseeb Hameed's lazy clip to midwicket to put England in trouble was another example.
We're not complaining. England were spared a potentially fatal further 40 minutes at the crease, allowing them to reset for perfect batting conditions on day three. It gives us an opportunity to bet them on the innings runs market.
No excuses if England fail on excellent pitch
Let us be clear: there is absolutely no excuse for England not batting all day. None whatsoever. The pitch is excellent, the fielding conditions are harsh and the pink ball does next to nothing from about the 11th over onwards. And, of course, we should not forget this is a reserve Australia attack. The hosts are shorn of their two most formidable bowlers in Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.
Sportsbook make England 10/11 to bust 238.5. It really should be one of the more simple wins of the series. If it's a loser it will only be because of something which is hard to measure: mental fragility.
Hopefully they will not look a gift horse in the mouth. Australia were gunning for them in the final session, the crowd was raucous and the ball was nipping around - notably at greater pace than England's bowlers managed.
Sure, there will be a bit in it for the bowlers in the first few overs but with Joe Root and Dawid Malan, the two visiting batsmen best-suited to this sort of wicket, at the crease there is a chance to put under Australia under pressure in similar fashion to the second innings at Brisbane.
Root is 10/11 for over 37.5 runs and Malan the same for over 20.5. Malan looks particularly cheap with his strong back-foot game to the fore.
Stat of the day
Rory Burns has two fifties in his last 11 innings. In this series he has scores of four, 0 and 13. He is becoming a problem. He has also been a liability in the field, dropping catches, misfielding and overthrowing. Zak Crawley may well come into contention for the third Test. In the context of the series, a constantly changing XI undermines confidence. In the context of the year ahead, England could be seeking another opening partnership with Hameed unconvincing.
Australia are 1.3030/100 for victory, England are 36.035/1 and the draw is 4.804/1. It is the latter price which interests us most.
With England expected to knuckle down there is an opportunity to back the draw and lay it back, although if you're betting England for runs you don't really need to do both.
There are few more skittish prices than the stalemate and there will be plenty of nervous traders out there with a partnership. Remember, we discussed when the pink ball stops swinging here. England are right on the cusp of many happy hours.
The plan is to back the draw at 4.904/1 and stick in there for a cut to 3.02/1. Laying back by topping up your original stake by half gives profits on all outcomes. Bet here.
Ashes series day wins tally
Australia 5 England 1
Ed Hawkins P-L
2021: +33.75 2020: +5.91 2019: +37.25pts 2018: +23.53pts 2017: +12pts 2016: +18.1pts 2015: +38pts 2014: +31.5pts 2013: +25pts Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. Includes Hawk-Eye column p-l