Recent chases bode well for hosts
Root the best bet to top-score
England v Australia
Sunday 9th July, 11:00
TV: Live on Sky Sports
For the large part of day three at Headingley, a washout seemed inevitable. As Ed Hawkins predicted yesterday, the draw odds crashed. However we did eventually get two and half hours play, the likelihood of a draw had fallen from 19% to just 1%.
England dominate brilliant late session
The good news for England fans, backers, and neutrals wanting this exciting series to carry on in that vein, Ben Stokes' men took spectacular advantage of the conditions. They are now red-hot favourites to win the match at 1.32, and therefore reduce Australia's series lead to 2-1.
Aside some heroics from Travis Head to keep it competitive, England dominated Australia's batsmen. After bowling them out for 224, leaving a target of 251 to chase, Ben Duckett and Zak Crawley hit a rapid, invaluable 27 to reduce the chase to just 224.
Chasing is England's strength
England will surely fancy getting these runs now. During the Stokes/McCullum era, they have successfully chased six targets from eight attempts. One failure fell short by two runs. The other came at Lords last time, when they did extremely well to get 327, chasing a highly unlikely 371. Four times last summer, this side chased targets of 279 upwards, with plenty to spare.
Plus there are the Headingley trends to consider. The last three tests here saw successfully fourth innings chases of 296, 362 and 322. Leeds pitches usually get better as the match progresses, although I will defer judgement on that, given what has happened already.
At times, it has looked like a road. When Australia were cruising at 68-1 on Friday, batting looked easy and the visitors in total control of the match. One poor Marnus Labuschagne shot turned the match on its head, and they never looked comfortable again after that.
Given that neither side has hit 300 yet, this doesn't look like the pitches that have seen huge runs in county cricket at Headingley this season. It would be no surprise to see the Aussies get back into this with some early wickets, but I won't recommend backing them at 4.3.
Overheads all important at Headingley
As usual, overheads are the key at Headingley. In that respect, England have got lucky so far and tomorrow's forecast looks OK. The Met Office forecast predicts just 10% chance of rain prior to 6pm and less than 50% humidity. England will surely rattle along and, one way or another, this could be over by tea.
So what appeals among the remaining betting options, besides the match result? Top England 2nd Innings Batsman appeals as a market, especially because I think we can restrict calculations to the top four. If one of them hits fifty plus, they will be hard to catch, given the fairly low target. Between them, the top four take out 78% of the book, equivalent to odds of 1.23.
Trust Root in the second innings
Ben Duckett has a headstart on 18 and is rightly favourite, trading around 3.6 on the exchange. Fellow opener Zak Crawley (on 9) isn't terrible value at 6.0. As Ed wrote yesterday, Harry Brook is not a natural number three, which explains his odds of 6.4.
I'll take Joe Root at 5.5. There must be a high chance that Australia take a wicket or two with the new ball, giving the former captain plenty of time to catch up. He could even be promoted to three at Brook's expense. Over the long-term, taking these odds about Root in the second innings would have yielded a handsome profit.
Run lines are available for both the openers over at the Sportsbook. Duckett is 10/11 under or over 39.5. Crawley the same odds for a line of 28.5.
Another line which will be settled quickly in the morning is England's 10 Over Run Line. At 48.5, beating it would require a run-rate of 4.4 for the first five overs of the morning. England's top order frequently better that run-rate, but going 'overs' is probably reliant on them not losing a wicket.
Fall of Next Wicket is also at 48.5, so this pair would need 22 to beat it.
Finally, a quick look at the series markets. Draws are becoming incredibly rare in England test matches, and I expect we will see five results. Of those, 7.0 about 3-2 Australia appeals. Assuming we get a result, this bet will still be live, whoever wins. There has been so little between the two sides in each match, that one win each from the last two strikes me as considerably higher than a 14% chance.