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Simon Hughes: A lively, triumphant finale in prospect for England

19 Aug | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Simon Hughes: A lively, triumphant finale in prospect for England

A first 4-1 Ashes series victory over a full-strength Australian team since the infamous Bodyline series of 1932-33 is likely, says The Analyst

In spite of the Oval’s reputation as a flat pitch and a mixed weather forecast this week, don’t expect the final Investec Ashes Test to be drawn.

There will be some grass left on the pitch – as it was at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge – and the faster bowlers are again likely to hold sway.

Wickets will fall regularly, both because the current batch of English-made Dukes balls continue to swing throughout an innings and because many of the modern batsmen lack both the ability and the mentality to handle the moving ball.

That is one strong reason why there are generally more results in Test cricket this decade than in any other.

11/8 – England to win the fifth Ashes Test

In 2014, 80.49 per cent of Tests had a win-loss result. Compare that with 2005, where it was 75.41 per cent, and 10 years earlier it was 71.11 per cent.

Stretch back to 1985, the win-loss percentage further dips to 57.69 per cent.

The draw – that odd anomaly in Test cricket that can be sometimes celebrated as much as a victory – is fading from view. England have only featured in one in their last 13 Tests.
 
The two batsmen with the best results in this series – the newly top-ranked Test batsman Joe Root (443 runs) and Chris Rogers (437) – play the ball late, right under their nose.

5/6 – Joe Root to be world No. 1 Test batsman on 1 January 2016

They don’t go searching for the ball – always dangerous when it is moving laterally – but wait for it to come to them. They would be favourites – along with Alastair Cook and Ian Bell – to score heaviest in this Test.

The true bounce of the Oval pitch might also suit Steve Smith, provided he can control his nervous energy and restrain himself from trying to dominate the bowlers early in his innings.

Smith has had four single-figure scores since his 215 at Lord’s and he survived just 12 balls in two innings at Trent Bridge. He was also out for a duck against Northants at the weekend.  
 
Australia will bring back Mitchell Marsh for his brother Shaun – strengthening their bowling but not necessarily their batting – and probably include Pat Cummins at the expense of the tiring Josh Hazlewood.

It means Australia will have three men – with Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson – capable of bowling over 90mph.

But that will be not much use if Australia’s batsmen can’t give them some runs to play with.
 
It will again be a story of England’s precise seam and swing bowlers – Stuart Broad, Steven Finn and the fast-improving Ben Stokes – conducting a forensic examination of Australian batting technique.

And, unless Rogers and Warner can give them a sound, stable start, expect them to fail it again.

20/1 – Chris Rogers to beat series-high score (138)

That would give England a first 4-1 Ashes series victory over a full-strength Australian team since the infamous Bodyline series of 1932-33.

Nobody forecast that six weeks ago.

The Ashes betting

READ: Dean Wilson: England must forego experimentation in search of historic victory

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