Couch Critic provides his betting tips for the fifth Ashes test match between England and Australia which starts at Kennington Oval on Thursday
SETTING THE SCENE
Australia welcomed back Steve Smith and its no co-incidence that they also returned to winning ways at the same time in Manchester. Smith struck a splendid double century in the first innings and then added a brisk 80 in the second which gave his skipper the opportunity to make an aggressive declaration which just about gave the visitors from Down Under enough time to bowl out the Poms.
England were yet again just not able to accumulate enough runs whilst the new sensation, Jofra Archer couldn’t quite hit his straps in the first innings. As we head to the Oval the Aussies will be keen on securing the series win whilst the home side need to try and rescue some pride by at least securing a drawn series.
LET’S TALK TACTICS
As expected the English batsmen just couldn’t come to the party at Old Trafford. There were some starts but whilst Steve went big the home team lacked a big score from one of their batsmen. I struggle to see where the runs will come from when looking down their line-up.
Bowling wise it was worrying for the Poms that Archer couldn’t kick on with his fourth test performance in the first innings. It remains true that the three-man pace attack of the Aussies is superior to what England can roll out at present.
For England to have any chance of squaring the series they need someone like Root to really go big with the willow and Archer to hit the ground running and be at his fiery best. They must also think that Smith surely has to be due one off day.
The Oval has been a ground that has been good for run-scoring and conditions are predicted to be dry for the duration of the test.
HOW I SEE IT PLAYING OUT
We called it spot-on for the fourth test – the visitors had little trouble in getting past their hosts. The Aussies will be celebrating their retention of the Ashes but I also believe they will be keen to put the boot in and make sure they win the series outright. In both the batting and bowling department they hold the edge which leads me to a confident prediction for an Aussie win in London.
The Hazlewood-Cummins combo has been lethal for the baggy greens and I don’t see either of them being benched for the last test. I reckon postman Pat will deliver yet again.
There are questions around the fitness of Ben Stokes. If he does play, he won’t bowl and could thus be focussed on contributing with the bat. Burns has been one of the few batsmen who’s shown some glimpses of form with the willow, but I still believe that Joe Root will be hell bent on fighting the foe with tooth on nail in this final test – especially with his form and captaincy under fire.
He has had his troubles, but Warner showed some signs of finding his feet in the third test. He will get two bites of the cherry and the chances are good that he will battle out a decent score on at least one of those occasions.
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Note, odds quoted are available at the time of writing but are subject to change