Cricket Betting: Australia v England – Ashes Fifth Test

Australia v England Ashes Fifth Test

Thursday January 4 — 10:30am AEDT

 


Australia

With captain Steve Smith finally winning a toss on Boxing Day, Australia elected to bat first and got off to an electric start with a pulsating century to opener David Warner (103) and half-centuries to consistent pair Smith (76) and Shaun Marsh (61) ensuring that the hosts finished day one well on top at 3/244.

However, from there the match took a significant turn with the Aussies losing 7/83 to be bowled out for an underwhelming 327, before England made the most of the benign conditions to post a commanding 491. In the absence of spearhead Mitchell Starc, fellow quick Pat Cummins toiled away to pick up 4/117. However, Starc’s replacement Jackson Bird had a tough time of it, finishing with 0/108. Faced with the very real prospect of dropping their first game of the series, the Australians dug in with Warner again leading from the front with 86, while yet another century to skipper Smith (102 not out) along with some help from the weather and some uncharacteristically patient batting from Mitch Marsh (29 not out off 166 balls) ensured that England would remain winless and the home side would head to Sydney maintaining their 3-0 lead.

Starc is a strong chance to return from the heel injury that kept him out at Melbourne, while left-arm orthodox Ashton Agar has also been added to the squad, raising the possibility of Australia playing two spinners.


England

While England may be lacking in skill and quality, there is no questioning their character as they refused to lie down after a tough opening day with the series already gone. Out of sorts paceman Stuart Broad led their revival with the ball, claiming 4/51 including the key wicket of Shaun Marsh which triggered the Australian collapse. It was another familiar face who had struggled for form who took on responsibility with the bat as opener and former captain Alastair Cook stroked a sublime 244, carrying his bat to remain unbeaten on the highest score by any visiting batsman at the MCG. Cook received support from current skipper Root (61) as well as Broad who struck an entertaining 56 down at number ten.

Unfortunately for England their bowlers could not break through the resistance shown by Warner and then Smith and Mitch Marsh as the match ended in a drab stalemate, although they should take heart from the fact they were the only side who looked like winning from day two onwards. That’s not to suggest that the visitors won’t make further changes with the calls growing louder for young leg-spinner Mason Crane, most likely at the expense of all-rounder Moeen Ali who is averaging an unacceptable 135 with the ball.


Sydney Cricket Ground

Australia have lost just one of their last 16 tests at the SCG, although that loss was to England in 2011. Interestingly four of the past eight tests in Sydney have failed to reach a fifth day, while the in-form pair of Smith and Warner average 66.42 and 57.77 here.


Key Stats

  • Australia are unbeaten in 26 of their last 28 tests at home.
  • Australia haven’t drawn consecutive tests since 2014/15.
  • Australia have lost just one of their past 16 tests at the SCG.
  • England have failed to win their last ten tests away from home.
  • England haven’t drawn consecutive tests since 2013.

The Verdict

Australia remain favourites but have pushed out a touch with the draw and an England win remaining on similar footing with the punters.

After day one at the MCG it seemed Australia would continue on its merry way towards a series clean-sweep, however some lax batting and an inability to make inroads on an unhelpful surface saw them invite England back into the contest and ultimately they were happy to escape with a draw. The return of Starc and a possible last chance for under-fire batsmen Cameron Bancroft and Usman Khawaja should motivate them here so I can’t say their price has put me off.

England may take plenty of encouragement from their performance in Melbourne, however they did gain some assistance from the hosts who batted poorly on day two and then dropped Cook twice on the way to his record score. The prospect of a debutant leg-spinner or woefully out of from all-rounder carrying the can for their slow bowling attack on the traditionally spin-friendly SCG is a concern, however their grit should not be underplayed.

The chances of two consecutive draws seem unlikely, however if we are greeted by another flat surface or inclement weather in Sydney – both of which are a definite possibility – then it’s not out of the question that the draw trades low again.

However ultimately I would expect to see a pitch similar to that up at the Gabba back in November which spun sharply from day one and that only opens up the biggest discrepancy between these two sides, pitting Nathan Lyon’s stranglehold against England left-handers against the visitors’ inability to make any head way with the turning ball. Starc’s reinstatement to the Australian side will also not only strengthen their bowling attack, but add starch to the tail so I’m happy to be invested in the Aussies at starting price as an opening gambit. But one thing you cannot doubt about this English side is their fight during adversity, so after their stirring comebacks in Melbourne and Adelaide, I will be looking to trade out of my position on Australia to secure a profit, rather than relying on the hosts to see it through to the finish line.


Betting Strategy

 BACK-to-LAY – Australia at 1.66 or bigger for 2 units (trade out at 1.35 or better)


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