- Australia in command
England need inspiration
No rain expected
England v Australia
Monday 31 July, 11:00
TV: Live on Sky Sports
An enthralling Ashes series has the finale it deserves with all four results still possible on the final day of the fifth Test. The topsy-turvy tussle continued on day four as Australia ended odds-on favourites to chase the seventh highest total in Test history.
They are no better than 1.9110/11 on the Betfair Exchange match odds market with England 3.55 and the draw into 5.04/1. Rain called a halt to Australia's innings after 38 overs, bringing the stalemate right back into the reckoning.
Followers of the live in-play blog on @BetfairExchange are sitting pretty with positions on Australia at 3.259/4, England at 3.1511/5 and the draw at 8.207/1. With trading work to do, it should be a profitable encounter.
The best news is that the weather is unlikely to have the final say. Both Accuweather.com and the Met Office give no more than a 25% chance of rain.
Although a result is by far the most likely, the draw cannot be ruled out as Australia, who do not need to win, could well shut up shop were they to slip into something bothersome. Their negative mindset has been a stark contrast to England's reckless aggression from day one of the series.
Whether England can extract anything from this pitch - or indeed their weary bowlers - remains to be seen. Since the fourth innings at Old Trafford they have run in with accuracy and heart but little menace. It could be that the heavy workload on their bodies is beginning to take its toll.
England running out of overs
In our day four preview we pointed out that England, on average, required 10 overs per wicket in the second innings this series, which had risen from nine before the third dig in Manchester. It's a figure which can be used as guide for traders to help garner how the game is moving.
England are well behind the rate. It is concerning, then, heading into the denoumenet that in Australia's last three innings in the series, they have managed 16 wickets in a massive 212 overs.
That's a wicket every 13 overs. They must buck these trends if they are to draw level. The numbers suggest that it will be beyond them with a possible 80-odd overs left in the Test. Australia's innings runs par line is pretty unequivocal, offering over 385.5 at even money.
David Warner and Usman Khawaja are 58 and 69 not out respectively. Their odds for top bat are 2.608/5 and 2.0421/20. We have minor fancies on Travis Head and Mitchell Marsh at 13.012/1 and 19.018/1 each because of their fast scoring.
Khawaja looked particularly unruffled on a wicket which is looking pretty sluggish. He is ideal for this situation and the even money is worth a bit. Only when Mark Wood came on did he appear to struggle.
England had delayed Wood's arrival to the crease, hoping for reverse swing. Those hopes were dashed, though, when a rain shower added moisture to the outfield and ball. Reverse is impossible without everything being bone dry.
Wood's pace is a little down and man for man England's attack just doesn't look partiocularly virile. James Anderson has been, frankly, innocuous all series, Stuart Broad is leggy, Moeen Ali injured and Joe Root isn't going to win you a home Test with his offspin.
That leaves a lot of work for Chris Woakes to do. England fans may be left wishing for a magic Broad spell. Those days may be long gone, though, hence him announcing his retirement late on day three.
England look likely to come up short. They will be left to ponder the batting collapses at Edgbaston, Lord's and The Oval (twice). They have failed to keep their foot on the Australian throat.
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