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In the end, England left themselves needing one too many miracles. After Ben Stokes et al. kept English hopes of winning back the Ashes alive, the hosts went into the final day of the 4th Test requiring another steely, committed and gritty display of batting to avoid the famous urn returning to Australia with the Baggy Greens.
You can’t fault the application of the England players who gave everything they had, but in the end, there just wasn’t enough quality in their batting to stop this incredible Australian bowling attack in their tracks. Pat Cummins, Josh Hazelwood, Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Starc all contributed wickets to the second innings leaving England with little more than pride to play for as the 2019 Ashes draws to a close at the Oval this week.
The England players have been talking a good game. We’ve heard a lot about the importance of not losing the series even if the Ashes are gone but the simple question all English cricket fans are left with is whether their team is good enough to compete with Australia at the moment.
Australia 21/20 (bet365)
England 6/4 (Coral)
Draw 5/1 (Sportingbet)
(Please note all odds are correct at time of article publishing)
Australia go into the final Test of the 2019 Ashes as the narrow favourites. The odds suggest that the bookies are expecting a fightback from England but may actually be more of a representation of patriotic punting on behalf of England fans who are desperate for the Ashes to end on a high.
England came closer to securing a draw at Old Trafford than many people thought they would at the start of the final day’s play. Some stubborn resistance from the likes of Joe Denley, Jos Buttler and Craig Overton was ultimately for nothing as established batsmen threw their wickets away. Few of those in the top to middle order of England’s batting line up will look back at this Ashes with much pride.
You could say something similar about the bowlers. Yes, England have major batting problems but the bowlers’ inability to get rid of Steve Smith or to make consistent enough inroads into a far from classic Australian batting line up has contributed to the disappointment of this Ashes series.
Both teams leave the Ashes with plenty to work on but it’s Australia who are the happiest by a very long way indeed. There are few reasons to suggest that the tourists will be unable to end their Ashes campaign on a high so the 21/20 that bet365 are quoting on Australia winning at the Oval looks a price well worth taking. In a series where quality has been a little thin on the ground at times, Australia’s extra confidence and England’s understandably downbeat outlook could make all the difference in a tight match.
Steve Smith 9/2 (bet365)
Ben Stokes 13/2 (888Sport)
Jofra Archer 9/1 (Coral)
Pat Cummins 21/2 (Sportingbet)
Joe Root 11/1 (Unibet)
Josh Hazelwood 12/1 (Unibet)
Steve Smith was forced out of the 2nd Test after being hit by a couple of nasty bouncers and was unable to play any part in the 3rd Test as a result of those injuries. And yet he is comfortably the highest run scorer and most important player in the 2019 Ashes. That surely won’t change at the Oval so it’s no surprise that Smith is the favourite to be named man of the match.
Such has Smith’s influence been on the 2019 Ashes that the man of the series award is a mere formality, no matter what happens in the final match. When it comes to the 5th Test itself though, the value in the Man of the Match betting market may well lie with Pat Cummins at 21/2 with Sportingbet.
Cummins’ brilliance at Old Trafford was rewarded with four wickets. He was brilliant even when he didn’t take wickets though and was widely credited with softening up the England batsmen so that they were ripe for other bowlers to come in and take the wickets. His 10 over spell in the first innings showed just how dangerous Cummins can be and he should be able to catch the eye with a big enough wicket haul at the Oval to win the Man of the Match award.
Australia to win at 21/20 with bet365
Pat Cummins to be man of the match at 21/2 with Sportingbet