Latest score: Australia 442-8 dec, England 29-1
Match Odds: Australia 1.384/11, England 17.016/1, Draw 4.57/2
The decisions of Australian selectors came in for plenty of criticism in the run-up to this series, with the recalls of Shaun Marsh and Tim Paine particularly controversial. A pair of thirty-something limited overs stalwarts that never truly broke into the test side. Yet faced with one of those tough periods that define test matches, their experience proved invaluable.
When Stuart Broad removed Peter Handscomb without a run being added this morning, England were at least level, with a golden opportunity to seize the advantage. But, 233 Australian runs later, any realistic hope of winning this match has gone.
I know the strangest things happen in cricket but it is inconceivable that England win from here. Those odds -Australia 1.384/11, England 17.016/1, Draw 4.57/2 - say it all, and even laying England at 17.016/1 looks a viable strategy! They'll need to bat for two days on a slow wicket just to catch Australia, let alone think about bowl them out again. Naturally I've cashed out yesterday's five unit bet for a loss.
It sounds incredible just two days into the second test but the series feels almost done. If Australia win here, Perth is widely regarded as another banker for them, making it 3-0 before Christmas. At 4.03/1, a 5-0 Aussie whitewash is now rated the likeliest series scoreline and I wouldn't deter anyone from taking those odds.
The only small mercy for England was rain finishing the evening session early, sparing them from a torrid hour or so under lights. I advised these two bets, laying England runs at odds-on, in expectation of more wickets last night but, with the prices still broadly level, there's no plan to change heart.
Recording even a vaguely respectable total - 300 plus - will require much resilience including at least one session under lights. There is a strong suspicion that the Aussie bowlers will get much more out of this slow pitch than England - particularly Nathan Lyon compared to Moeen Ali.
Whilst I'm sure there is still plenty of spirit left in this England side, the events of the past week must have been very demoralising. So often we see touring sides of all stripes get behind and become easy prey for fired-up home bowlers enjoying their favoured conditions. England looked brittle in Brisbane and there's no reason to think it won't persist. Selling their runs could be the best angle left in the series.
Regarding the outright market, I fully expect Australia to win but the odds are skinny enough at 1.374/11. I'd rather wait in hope they drift a bit, as would be the case were England merely to get a partnership or two going early. As usual, I'll update any new bet on this market live on Twitter.
Lay England to score 250 or more 1st Innings Runs 5u @ 1.68/13
Lay England to score 275 or more 1st Innings Runs 5u @ 1.84/5
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