With England dragging the series back to 2-1, after a gripping victory at Headingley, we move across the Pennines for the 4th test at Old Trafford. The hosts need to keep winning to have any hope of winning the Ashes. We’ve previewed the match which starts on Wednesday morning and given you our best bets.
How good is Ashes cricket??
This topsy-turvy series was extended at Headingley after a brilliant 4th innings chase from England (6/4) kept the series alive.
Harry Brook got the hosts in a winnable position on his home ground and the twin pace kings, Mark Wood and in particular, Chris Woakes, got them over the line.
Wood had earlier shone with the ball, bowling one of the quickest spells of pace bowling ever seen in this country. Not only that but he did it with supreme control and added an extra dimension to the England attack.
Australia (13/8) suddenly find themselves on the back foot and have to avoid defeat here in Manchester, to kill the series dead and go back down under with the famous old urn.
They face selection dilemmas and another raucous crowd at Old Trafford, with star man Usman Khawaja accusing them of being “nasty” with their taunts in the series. Bless…
England have made just one change for the fourth test, bringing back the goat Jimmy Anderson to bowl from his own end at Lancashire CCC. Out goes Ollie Robinson.
They have resisted calls for Ben Foakes to be brought in as glovesman, despite Jonny Bairstow’s struggles behind the sticks.
Australia face a number of choices to make going into the 4th test.
Firstly, will they keep faith with Davie Warner at the top of the order, after Stuart Broad continues to make him his bunny? One thing that might work in his favour is his excellent form as first slipper in the cordon.
Secondly, they have to decide whether to go for an all pace attack or continue with inexperienced back-up spinner Todd Murphy, who bowled just 9.3 overs in Leeds.
With Cameron Green set to return from injury and Mitch Marsh having surely cemented his place in the side, with a wonderful backs against the wall hundred, Murphy could be the one who misses out. Josh Hazelwood is likely to return for Scotty Boland too.
Australia XI (probable):
Pat Cummins (captain), Mitchell Starc, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Steve Smith (vice-captain), David Warner.
England to win – 6/4
It’s no absurdity to suggest that England could very well have been 3-0 up in this series but for a terrible couple of sessions of play.
Even at 2-0 down, their collective heads didn’t drop and Ben Stokes merely repeated his mantra that they had won three straight against New Zealand and Pakistan and could do so again.
With an Old Trafford wicket that should once again suit Brendon McCullum’s men more, if the weather stays fair, I have them firm favourites to square the series and take the decider to the Oval.
Harry Brook Eng Top Run Scorer(1st inns) – 4/1
There had been questions asked about Harry Brook after a poor IPL and a couple of iffy looking test matches, where Australia had pinpointed him with the short ball.
Needless to say the Yorkshireman stood up when it mattered and hit a superb 75 to get them within 50 of the target score.
Brook now has become the fastest person(in balls) to reach 1000 runs in the history of test cricket and is averaging 64 with four tons and five fifties to his name. Struggling indeed…
Mark Wood Player of the Match – 9/1
What a difference the effervescent and enigmatic Durham cricketer was in the third test.
After two contests, where the England bowling of 75-85 mph on dead tracks looked totally ineffective, Wood came in and blew away the Australians with sheer, bloody, raw pace.
Often throwing himself literally off his feet, yet managing to bowl maiden after maiden, Woody displayed admirable control, despite bowling upwards of 95 mph.
With another similar desk on the menu in Manchester, the 33-year-old can yet again steal the man of the match by blasting out the Aussie tail and then blasting runs with his aggressive batting technique.