This Ashes series is all but finished and there is no good news to report for England. Ahead of what may prove to be the final day, Paul Krishnamurty updates the state of play and his positions...
"I still think there's a good chance of an early finish...This pitch is deteriorating fast and Australia's bowlers may well make the surface look unrecognisable from yesterday. In particular, expect Nathan Lyon to be considerably more effective than England's spin duo."
Latest score: England 346, Australia 479-4
Barring a miraculous turnaround - the chance of which is probably understated by odds of 130 - England will draw a blank in this Ashes series. Realistically, the only question that remains unanswered is whether they will lose 3-0 or 4-0. Regarding that, we already have a very strong indication.
In contrast to the rest of the series - which, despite the score, has mostly involved exciting sessions and frequent momentum swings - this final test has been pretty turgid from a spectator's viewpoint. The ongoing Australian first innings takes some beating in that respect. Slow scoring with very few chances for the bowlers. Since losing a wicket with just one run on the board, their partnerships have been 85, 188, 100 and an unbroken 104.
In building those partnerships and this overwhelmingly strong position, Australia have truly demonstrated their superiority, at least in these conditions. This isn't one of their vintage sides
but their professionalism has been exemplary. Batsmen carefully building innings with an eye on the match situation. Bowlers keeping the scoring rate down during the difficult spells, then capitalising on more favourable conditions when they arrive.
At the SCG, that has meant playing out time and staying at the crease during the best scoring days, knowing the pitch would deteriorate. They've done the hard work and are now strongly expected to finish the job with plenty in hand, perhaps with a day to spare. Expect the Marsh brothers to come out swinging, with a view towards declaring around 600 at or just before lunch.
Until then, don't expect much change in the match odds market, in which Australia have steadily shortened since I recommended them at 1.69. If England can avoid losing early wickets, odds about the draw will shorten fast. Hopefully to the extent that I can finally lay back the 5 unit bet at 4.3 placed during the opening session. If you're on that bet, my advice is to place an order now to retrieve the stake at the same odds.
Can England save the match? Whilst I don't fancy it, they surely retain a chance. Only 14 wickets have fallen in three days, which would usually result in the draw being odds-on, rather than a 7.0 chance. If they trail by 250, they would probably need 350 to save it. If they could reach 50-0 or 100-1, those draw odds will shorten significantly.
Remember, even when a result looks nailed on, it is possible to make money simply from trading the swings. Take yesterday as an example. When Australia lost Steve Smith, England's odds more than halved from 32 to 14. Another wicket or two and they would have collapsed. So although I'm not changing my pro-Aussie position, my advice to someone entering the market right now would be to try trading the draw price for small stakes.
Beyond the match result, today's main markets involve innings runs and which session the match will finish. First, Australia are odds-on to reach 600 in their first innings. England's 2nd Innings Runs market is already live and, when it starts, par will probably be around 250. Once that market is fully formed, I will doubtless be advising a bet on Twitter.
As listed below, we are already on today's two later sessions in Test Match End. The odds have moved against us but I still think there's a good chance of an early finish. Day Four Evening was last matched at 6.6 and that looks good value. England have repeatedly collapsed in their second innings and will do well to muster enthusiasm and resilience for this battle.
This pitch is deteriorating fast and Australia's bowlers may well make the surface look unrecognisable from yesterday. In particular, expect Nathan Lyon to be considerably more effective than England's spin duo. Plus, matches often finish in the evening session, after the bowling side have been granted an extra half hour.
Bets already advised
Back Australia to win the 5th Test 10u @ 1.69
Back Day Four Afternoon in Test Match End 3u @ 8.0
Back Day Four Evening in Test Match End 4u @ 6.2
***Update on earlier Twitter position - only applies to those already on***