Australia v England
Thursday 14 December, 02:30
TV: live on BT Sport
Australia are cockahoop with a 2-0 lead safely pouched. Victories by 10 wickets and 120 runs in Brisbane and Adelaide respectively mean they are one win from regaining the urn.
The latter margin of victory could have been bigger had Steve Smith, the skipper, enforced the follow-on. He didn't because he didn't want to overload his pace bowlers. This says something about how comfortable things have been.
The Aussies will be particularly buoyant because it was one of their left-field picks, Shaun Marsh, who was arguably the architect of the Adelaide success. His first-innings ton punctured English spirits.
Marsh could be joined by his brother in the middle-order for this Test. Mitchell, a powerful all-rounder, is expected to replace the hapless Peter Handscomb. The move will give Australia better balance where a fifth bowler may well be needed.
England are in a shambolic state. They can't handle the cricket. They can't handle their drink. Ben Duckett's indiscretion in a Perth bar - pouring a drink over James Anderson - exposes a squad broken mentally by pressure. It is beginning to look very much like the whitewash of four years ago.
No team has ever come from behind to win an Ashes from two-zip. And there have been plenty teams who were in a better psychological state than this rabble. That they have to save the series in Perth, their cricket kryptonite, is darkly comic.
As is Joe Root's insistence that they are matching Australia. They are not. Root seems to be suggesting that because they are still in the game on day three England are only adrift because they've lost the next crucial battle.
This is nonsense. The nature of Test cricket means that only a truly terrible team is staring defeat in the face after six sessions. And by the way, in Adelaide England were done by dig one.
Mark Wood, the pacer, could make a surprise return but it would seem harsh to drop Craig Overton. Otherwise there are major form doubts about senior players - Alastair Cook, Moeen Ali and Root himself.
The first-innings average at the WACA in the last nine is 341. England would take that now. They have busted 350 only once since 1986. And that was in an irrelevant fourth-innings chase. It is worth noting that even when England won in Australia in 2010, they were razed in Perth. Scores of 187 and 123 gave them a whopping 267-run defeat.
Will it be quick? Probably. It would be a surprise if Australia had not been able to apply some pressure on the curator for something fast and nasty, particularly as this will be the last Test staged at the old ground.
Getting short of England first-innings runs could well be the best bet. We will be keeping an eye on lays for 300 or more and 325 or more, starting from 2.56/4.
Australia are 1.574/7 and England are 5.24/1. The draw is 5.79/2. There can be little argument that those odds are not correct.
Betting Australia now at those odds is perfectly fine but by the letter of the value law we know that only a few days ago they were 1.625/8, which was much more palatable.
It is impossible to make a case for the tourists. Their record at Perth - one win in 13, drawing three - is bad enough. But the holes in their XI and inability to cope with the pressures of the series would make them a huge gamble.
The draw price is interesting. If we've got England wrong and they are capable of being solid, then this could head south. Domestically, the wicket has been a bit of a graveyard for the bowlers.
Top Australia runscorer
David Warner has a terrific record at the WACA. The fast wicket suits his back-foot style. He has notched two half-centuries and three tons in five matches. His 803 runs dwarf Steve Smith's 368 in only one more match. The 4.57/2 about him top scoring could be value. Smith is 4.1.
Shaun Marsh is 8.615/2 for honours on his home ground. Cameron Bancroft, another West Australia player, is 8.07/1.
If you don't want to pit Warner versus Smith, the 5/6 that Sportsbook offer about the former making more than 38.5 runs in first-innings looks a fair bet.
Top England runscorer
Cook plays his 150th Test. But he could well be contemplating retirement with 62 runs managed so far. He is 5.24/1, which is one of the biggest prices since he established himself. Root is 3.953/1, which is not bad considering this market always seemed a two-horse race between him and Cook. Moeen at 11.521/2 and Chris Woakes at 32.031/1 get mentions if the top order is blown away.
D Warner 38.5 first-innings runs or more 5/6 Sportsbook (1pt)