Old Trafford: Wednesday 4 September: 11am start
Live on Sky Sports
In the space of a few days, England went from being 67 all out to heroes. They won the third test to level the scores in the Ashes series with two games to go. England have to win this series to regain the Ashes so nearly lost last week. Whether it be at Old Trafford or at The Oval, Joe Root’s team has to find another win and avoid defeat if they want to win this series. The odds on them winning this fourth test at Old Trafford are 6/5 (2.2) at SkyBet.
The third test will come down as one of the most memorable of all-time. It had everything you could want and there was only play on four days with several overs lost to rain. England ended the game as heroes, well Ben Stokes did but it’s wrong to paper over the many cracks that this England side has.
Their batting in the first innings was beyond appalling. The second innings produced more disappointment for the openers but at least Joe Root and Joe Denly just about got their act together with decent scores. Ben Stokes saved the day with a great innings but it showed England’s problems.
His innings was more fitted to a one-day game and that’s how England tend to play. Too many times it just doesn’t work and they get skittled. This time it did work for Stokes, but how many times was he nearly out? Whether it was being nearly caught on the boundary or run out, he came close to dismissal many times. A. Oh and then there was the wicket that wasn’t due to the lack of reviews. Why have technology if it can only be used on a limited number of occasions?
England might have been better off losing that test match. They have to realize that their current batting line-up just isn’t good enough. Roy is not an opener and Buttler just isn’t coming up with the goods this summer. Even the performance of Chris Woakes has dipped in recent weeks, thank god they have Jofra Archer. England may be 1-1 in the series but the win hasn’t solved that many problems. You can get odds of 6/4 (2.5) at Ladbrokes on them winning this series.
Australia will have Steve Smith back for this test match. With his return, improved form from David Warner and the emergence of Manus Labuschagne, Australia still look the better team. The Australians have a tour match against Derbyshire before the next test. How come they get a game and England don’t? They are 12/5 (3.4) at Betfair to win this series.
Smith only scored 23 on his return from injury but there were signs of form from Harris and Khawaja with both scoring half centuries. Both need to improve their test performances after disappointing scores so far. More worrying for England could be the wickets taken by Mitchell Starc who has yet to play in this series.
Australia have won three of the last four Ashes tests played at Old Trafford. The last meeting ended in a draw. The odds of that being the result in this game are 3/1 (4.0) at Unibet.
James Anderson has been ruled out of this series after more calf problems. He’s been replaced in the squad by Craig Overton. England are expected to name an unchanged 11 but if they have any sense will push Jason Roy down the order, perhaps moving Joe Denly to opener. Australia will have Steve Smith back and it’s likely to be Matthew Wade who he replaces. A recall for Mitchell Starc may be on the cards.
England may have momentum but Australia still look to have the slightly better team. Can England bat better in two innings rather than just one? Will the one-day, hit and hope tactics work again? Rain is forecast for most days, particularly the second. The way this series has gone, a full five days isn’t needed anyway. A bet on Australia to win this game and retain the Ashes has odds of 13/8 (2.61) at Coral.