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Pitch not to blame

Making profit on day three could be reliant on reading the pitch. But it’s not easy. Seven wickets in the final session suggests it’s a bowlers’ paradise but those who watched every ball may not be convinced.

The biggest curveball is England, of course. The pitch does not need to be a minefield or the ball to move prodigiously for them to suffer. How many of England’s batsmen were outfoxed by the Australia bowlers? Maybe two – Zak Crawley and .

Yet of the 17 wickets to fall on day two only Usman Khawaja’s could be added to Crawley and Root’s as not being human error.

Sportsbook make Australia’s innings runs an over or under wager at 218.5. In the last four Tests at Hobart since 2011 the third-innings scores read: 161-148-278-226.

England are going to have to go well, even with three wickets in their pocket. It was noticeable, too, how much better Australia bowled. Of course they did. In they have a great. He was consistently nipping the old pink ball back off the seam, a threat when things were supposed to getting less fraught.

With Australia resuming when batting should be much easier (in terms of ball age and overheads) England don’t have an artist like Cummins in their ranks. And doubts remains about Ollie Robinson’s fitness.

Australia are 1.152/13 with England 8.207/1. In reality, another 50-odd runs should be more than enough. Mind you, probably thinks they need 400.

Smith to twist knife

It’s been death by a thousand cuts for England this winter Down Under. And it would be fitting if their tormentor-in-chief down the years, Steve Smith, inflicted the final wound.

Smith has had a reasonably quiet series but he has the opportunity to quickly put the game out of England’s reach and then pile on the agony.

Sportsbook make Smith 5/6 for top Australia bat in the third. It’s skinny. He has a 37.5% win rate in the market in the third in the last five years. Although that does not suggest we should be piling in, factor in that Usman Khawaja, who has won 36% of the time, and (16.6%), are back in the hutch and it starts to look like a bet.

If you are of the view that the pitch is dicey (and we’re not convinced) Mitchell Starc and at 22/1 and 25/1 respectively may be worth a nibble with Sportsbook.

Smith is 10/11 for a fifty (also a 37.5% chance) and the same price for over 46.5. He has a runs per innings mark of 45. With 17 already on the board the latter is the smarter move.

Third-innings top bat wins/matches (last five years)
Smith 6/16
Khawaja 4/11
Head t/9
Warner 3/18
Labuschagne 1t/12
T=tie

Ashes series day wins tally
Australia 15.5 England 2.5





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