Cricket Betting: Australia v England – Ashes Third Test

Australia v England Ashes Third Test

Thursday December 14 — 1:30pm AEDT


Australia

After once again losing the toss, the hosts were surprisingly asked to bat and responded with plenty of determination and application as top-order trio David Warner (47), Usman Khawaja (53) and Steve Smith (40) worked hard to get themselves established but were unable to convert their starts into a more significant score. That task was left to classy left-hander Shaun Marsh who stroked a brilliant 126 not out, sharing in partnerships of 85 with Tim Paine (57) and 99 with Pat Cummins (44) to guide Australia to a sizeable first innings total of 8/442 declared.

The bowlers then showed similar discipline to knock England over for just 227 with Nathan Lyon capturing 4/60 which put the Aussies well on top. However from there, the home side got the wobbles, dismissed for just 138 in their second innings as they struggled to combat the swinging ball, leaving England a considerable, but not insurmountable target of 354 for victory.

When the visitors reached 3/169 with Steve Smith having burned both of Australia’s reviews, England suddenly had a sniff of a famous comeback, however that was all snuffed out on the fifth morning when the Aussie bowlers engineered another collapse to leave them 120 runs short with Mitchell Starc picking up 5/88.

There’s just the one change for Australia in Perth with all-rounder Mitchell Marsh drafted into the squad, placing pressure on under-performing middle-order batsman Peter Handscomb.


England

While England had some bright moments they were ultimately left to rue two poor performances with the bat and a regrettable decision at the toss.

Nevertheless, their bowlers failed to support Joe Root’s questionable choice to bowl first, with lengths that were too short although there were at least some encouraging signs from debutant Craig Overton who took 3/105. But where England really lost the match was with their dismal first effort with the bat with only three batsmen passing 25, including Overton who again stood tall both literally and metaphorically with an unbeaten 41. That helped to rescue the visitors’ plight at 7/142 alongside Chris Woakes (36) in a fighting stand of 66. At that point, England’s campaign was on life support, but it was dramatically resuscitated by their bowlers who made the most of helpful conditions under lights, in particular Jimmy Anderson who was near-unplayable at times in his spell of 5/43, while Woakes backed up his effort with the bat to pick up 4/36 and give the visitors the faintest of hopes.

Initially England took a leaf out of their opponents books with how they batted in the first innings, using a combination of grit and careful judgement to grind their way towards the imposing target but ultimately captain Root (67) was the only batsman to pass 50 as they lost 7/64 to crash to another defeat. If the Three Lions do look to reinforce their batting then it could result in a recall for streaky left-hander Gary Ballance.


WACA Ground

Traditionally the much-vaunted home of pace and bounce, the WACA has been much kinder to batsmen in recent times with scores of 500 or more in three of the past four tests here. Interestingly Australia won only one of those four tests, however England haven’t won here in their past ten attempts. In five matches at the WACA, opener David Warner has scored two fifties and three hundreds, averaging 89.22.


Key Stats

  • Australia are on the verge of winning their seventh series at home from their past eight.
  • However, Australia have won only four of their past nine tests at the WACA, including just one of their past four.
  • England are on the verge of failing to win their sixth series away from home from their past seven.
  • England have not won in their last ten attempts at the WACA, dating back to 1979.
  • Joe Root is the only England batsman in the squad to be averaging over 40 in 2017.

The Verdict

Australia have shortened again following their victory at the Adelaide Oval, now warm favourites ahead of England with the draw remaining the least popular option.

Although the WACA wicket has shown itself to be one of the flatter in the country and both sides have adopted a less aggressive approach than we might have expected, the chances of a draw seem incredibly remote given the way that the first two matches have played out, so we can rule out that option immediately.

Three days into the second test I could’ve been convinced that this Australia side was well worth of their short starting price, however some shaky batting at night then panic in the field served as a stark reminder as to why I was not so keen to side with the hosts in the first place. Certainly they look the far more likely of the two sides, but having come in again I cannot justify backing them at these odds.

Similarly England looked headed for another disaster and while a whitewash remains a distinct possibility, they at least showed plenty of character in Adelaide to fight back, first in the field and then with the bat. However they will not be welcomed with the sort of conditions that served them so well in the day-night test and therefore, while I don’t wish to oppose them, I’m certainly not in a rush to be backing them again either.

That means that we’ll park the match odds to one side and instead focus on the England captain. There was a perception that for the visitors to challenge Australia in this series that the experienced pair of Alastair Cook and Joe Root would need to contribute significantly with the bat. So far neither have scored enough runs, but Root has at least contributed two half-centuries, while Cook has looked decidedly out of touch. There have been glimpses of promise from the remainder of the English batting unit, but none have looked capable of playing the sort of innings that we know Root can.

Root averages 53.05 in test cricket and this year alone has averaged 54.43 while none of his colleagues are averaging over 40. Incredibly Root has managed a score of 50 or more in 14 of his past 15 tests and while there may be disparagement of his failures to convert many of them to triple-figures, he likely only needs to get to 50 to top-score, as he has done twice in this series already. Root will also be stinging from the criticism over his decision to bowl first in Adelaide so I’m willing to back him to bounce back strongly and top-score again here.


Betting Strategy

 BACK – Joe Root Top England First Inns Batsman at 3.50 or better for 1 unit


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