The Ashes

England v Australia Fifth Test Day 3 in-play Tips: Another thriller incoming

Steve Smith
Smith should have been run out

Ed Hawkins has all the stats, trends and angles for the action from The Oval on Saturday with the deciding Test on a knifedge


England v Australia
Saturday 29 July, 11:00
TV: Live on Sky Sports

Fifth Test match odds

If any further evidence was required why England have been unable to reclaim the Ashes, they served up a bit more on day two. For the majority they were brilliant. The last, say ten, per cent? Very ordinary.

It was the unbiquitous changeable day on the match odds in this series, then. England, behind by 12, are marginal favourites at 2.1211/10 with Australia 2.6413/8 and the draw not short enough at 6.806/1.

England make mistakes too often to get on top and stay on top. It is notable that in this series they have been odds on at the death for each and every test so far. As soon as they hit the lows of the 1.705/7 region at The Oval they lost their way.

As Ian Bell wrote ahead of the start of this tournament, England need to learn how to bury teams once they have dug the hole and dropped their opponent into the chasm. They just can't do it.

With Australia reduced to 185 for seven, England were bang in the zone for a sizeable first-innings lead. They had earlier been mean and magnificent, styming the Australia batting which became almost strokeless in the face of accuracy which would have had Pythagoras nodding along appreciatively. Cue chaos.

Jonny Bairstow, once again the fall guy, made a rick when breaking the stumps before he had gathered the ball in running out Steve Smith. An eighth wicket partnership of 54 valuable runs was the result.

When Smith was out, England were still on course for a chunk in their favour. Instead they bowled exclusively short to No 10 Todd Murphy. Murpny, organised and bang in line, stroked - and we use that word deliberately to attest to his control - three sixes. Pythagoras had stomped off by now.

England 2nd innings runs line

So we have a one-innings game. It could be thrilling given England's fondness for calamity. If anyone is in any doubt that they don't come out and crash it around on day three they haven't been paying attention. Perhaps England really should be circumspect and slightly safety-first. But they won't.

That may mean more flips on the market. Australia will never reckon they are out of the game and the time to back them will be that point that the hosts go sub 2.001/1. England can go bang-bang with the bat in terms of run rate but Australia can do likewise with the ball, just as they did in the first innings.

The third-innings all-out average (six innings) in the last ten years is 266. Australia managed 270 for eight against India earlier this summer. England would dearly love more than 300 to set their rivals.

As one would expect, England's thid innings totals are all over the shop under Ben Stokes' captaincy, ranging from 484 to 149. Also there was the 169 against South Africa last year. The average is 277, not far off the 273 they got against Australia at Edgbaston. We will be keeping a very close eye on the par line, prepping a sell at aroiund that 290.5 mark.

It is a widely-held view that the pitch is decent and unlikely to detriorate so a test - which is very unlikely to go to day five by the way - is bang on the cards.

For top bat for England, Joe Root is value at 4.10 on the exchange based on win rate. It's time he had a significant say.

Stokes captaincy top England 2nd innings wins/matches/odds
Root 5 t/16
Bairstow 2/10
Brook 3/10
Crawley 3/18
Duckett 1/11
Stokes 1 t/17

t=tie

Back Joe Root top Eng 2nd inns bat @ 4.10

Bet now

Australia negativity could cost them

To share out the ire, by the way, here's some for Australia. And maybe most of it should be spewed at them.

Although England were excellent with the ball, Australia's batting approach in the first session was ridiculous. So intent on not scoring were they that, incredulously, it looked like they were playing for a draw.

Had they shown some gumption and desire to have a go at England, they would now be sitting on a healthy first-innings lead. Only when they were under the pump did they start throwing punches.

It was a classic case of the contrast in styles between the sides. Whether Australia pay for that time will tell. Regardless, Marnus Labuschagne shouldn't be spared criticism for a ridiculous 82-ball nine.

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