Will The Fourth Ashes Test Provide As Much Drama For Fans And Bettors?
The most heated rivalry in test cricket has lived up to expectations as the third test at Leeds will go down as one of the best test matches in the history of the game. England pulled off a massive comeback as Ben Stokes single-handedly launched an amazing fightback that left Australian fans in dismay, put bettors on the edge of their seats, and sent shivers down the spine of English fans.
England won the third test and squared the 5 match series 1-1 to make the fourth test a crucial match to win. The fourth test starts on 04 September in Manchester and weather permitting; we should be in for another treat.
Bookies and Bettors Ready For More Excitement
Australia should have comfortably won the third test match based on the commanding position they were in. The sportsbooks favoured the Aussies and rightly so as 9 times out of 10 a team in such a commanding position goes on to win. Bettors who defied the odds and put money on England would have been kicking themselves for not betting more as England pulled off an unlikely win thanks to the heroics of Ben Stokes.
The bookies have Australia at 2.80 for the fourth test and England at 2.49. The chances of a draw given that rain could interrupt the test match is set at 3.35. Given the current betting odds, there is not much between the two teams on paper. England do have the momentum with them and will have a slight edge going into the fourth test as the Australian team will need to show a lot of fighting spirit and mental toughness to put that defeat behind them and start with a fresh slate.
England Set To Make Changes
England might end up retaining the same team for the fourth test but they are still going to make a couple of changes. Jason Roy who has struggled at the top of the order is likely to go down to number four and Joe Denly is likely to move to the top of the order and open by R Burns.
The other possible change could be in the bowling line-up and Chris Woakes might be the man to miss out. He had a poor game by his standards at Leeds and the selectors might want to give him a break and bring in young Sam Curran who will bring variety into the attack with his left arm swing.
Steven Smith Set To Return
Australia had to rest the in-form Steve Smith for the third test due to the concussion he suffered in the second test after being knocked in the head from a J Archer bouncer. They left Smith out as a precautionary measure to give him significant time to recover. The former Australia captain had to be content to watch from the sidelines as Australia blew their chance at victory with a number of mistakes brought on due to the pressure imposed by Stokes.
Even though Smith did not play the third test, he remains as the highest run getter in the series so far with 378. His return will strengthen the batting order immensely and will most likely result in either M Wade or T Head being left out as Australia will want to continue playing Marnus Labuschagne who replaced Smith at Leeds.
There is also talk that all-rounder M Marsh could replace M Wade and Labuschagne will replace T Head. It will be interesting to see if Australia go ahead and make both these changes given the fact that Wade scored a century in the first test. Australia could also make a change in their bowling line-up and might substitute J Pattinson with M Starc.
If you know anything about the way Australia plays their cricket, you can bet that they will come out fighting in the fourth test!