The Ashes Fifth Test Betting Preview : Australia to show England no mercy
- The Oval
- 12-16 September
- Live on Sky Sports
It has been a thoroughly entertaining Ashes series, but ultimately a disappointing one for England fans. Even if the home side can win the final Test and draw the series, the famous urn will be heading back to Australia as the holders cannot lose the five-match extravaganza.
The Aussies deserve to hold onto the bizarre old prize, they have been much the better team so far. Yes, they have largely been propped up by Steve Smith in the batting line-up, but there have been enough other contributors, where England has lacked them. The Australian pace attack is excellent, especially the exceptional Pat Cummins and in Marnus Labuschagne they have found a batsman who will be in their middle order for a long time to come. Others have chipped in here and there and got their side over the line.
England just have not done it. Stuart Broad has been largely very good, Ben Stokes produced one of the great Test innings to win the third Test, Rory Burns has shown flashes, as has Jofra Archer, but that’s about as much as you can say. Joe Root has not shown the form needed for England to dominate a series, with Smith showing that he is at least one league above the English captain, when they had once been considered on similar pegging.
Now the teams go into this strange situation of a dead rubber that isn’t one. England can draw the series but not get their hands on the Ashes, which is the aim of the game. They will certainly be motivated not to go out on a loss for the summer, but the Aussies will also be committed to win the series outright.
There is no doubt that all the momentum is with the Australians. England should have been able to capitalise on the same intangible in Manchester after the miracle of Headingley, but they could not. Now the hosts are thoroughly demoralised, even the players in some sort of form will be struggling for morale. Some are very definitely playing for their places in future squads, but how they deal with that added pressure is yet to be seen.
Smith is still unstoppable
What we can bank on in this Test is the continued brilliance of Smith, who has been almost other-worldly with his batting this series. The former Australia captain has scored 671 runs in five innings at an average of 134.20, only really getting out when the match situation called for him to be overly aggressive. His lowest score of the series, 82, is higher than the highest total of the likes of Joe Root, Joe Denly, Johnny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, David Warner and even the impressive Marnus Labuschagne. Most would say that Ben Stokes has had a good series with the bat, and yet he has scored 317 runs less than Smith in three more innings. It has been batting on a completely different level from his colleagues and peers.
It has almost been giving away money with bookies offering Smith to be Australia’s top run scorer and it would be foolish not to back him to be again, especially with odds-against still being available.
In fact, there is even better value available when it comes to the world’s best batsman, and that is for him to out-perform every other player on the field and win the Man of the Match award. He has already won two this series, only missing out in the second Test as he was concussed by Jofra Archer and forced to miss his side’s second innings.
If you needed any more evidence, last time Australia played a Test match at the Oval, Smith scored 143 as his side won by an innings. Almost a guarantee to be the top run-scorer in the match, he is excellent value to be named the best player in the Test.
Burns can prove his worth for England on home turf
It would be a shame not to look for some bright spots in the England side and there is certainly one in the form of Rory Burns. The 29-year-old appears to have cemented his place at the top of the order thanks to his steady, if unspectacular, batting which has seen him score more runs than anyone not named Smith or Stokes in this series.
As a Surrey player Burns is batting on his home pitch and should be well set to finish the series with a flourish in London after his impressive 81 in the first innings of the last match. One of the few positives to come out of this series for England and on a ground he has piled on the runs before, Burns should be able to shine at the Oval.
Aussies to sign off in style
Unfortunately, though, it is likely to be for naught. England are set to end what has been a sensational summer of cricket on something of a low ebb. They just look too fragile with the bat and lacking some ideas with the ball to be worth backing in the final Test of the summer. The weather is set fair from Thursday to Monday in London so we will almost certainly get a result and Australia are the only one of the two sides who look even half reliable.
Smith is unmovable and almost guarantees his side a half decent total, while Cummins and Hazelwood especially look like they can strike at any time. While they will have celebrated their win on Sunday night with a few beers, the tourists will have settled down and seriously refocused to go home with, not just the Ashes, but a series win as well. They are in a nice position of having some pressure off, and those who have struggled may improve – we’re looking at you David Warner.
It will result in some tough questions for Root to answer in the press, but the Aussies can wrap up the series at the Oval.
- Steve Smith averages 134.20 in this series scoring 671 runs
- Smith has scored more Test runs than any other player this year
- Ben Stokes has been England's best batsman, averaging 59 and scoring 354 runs
- David Warner averages just 9.87 this series
- Australia won their last Test at the Oval by an innings and 46 runs in 2015
- Smith has been Man of the Match in the two Tests he has completed
- Pat Cummins is the leading wicket taker in the series with 24
- Stuart Broad has been England's best bowler with 19 wickets
- Josh Hazelwood holds the best average having only played three tests - 16.88
- Warner has taken the most catches in the series with eight