Smith and Wade leave England in survival mode


Latest score: Australia 284 & 487-7 dec, England 374 & 13-0

If ever an example of how remarkably volatile cricket betting can be, this opening Ashes test has provided it. From being matched at a low of [1.21] – equivalent to an 83% chance – on the first day, England are now no-hoper [60.0] chances, needing 385 runs in 90 overs maximum. The draw has shortened from [46.0] to just [2.2].

After a superb batting day, Australia have assumed favouritism. Steve Smith hit his second ton of the match to take his tally to a ridiculous 973 runs in his last six Ashes tests. Everyone else chipped in with Matthew Wade also hitting a ton.

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Lyon the key for Australia

The question we need to resolve is whether this turnaround is fundamentally due to the pitch becoming easier or both side's performances. England extracted very little, but then they don't possess a spinner of Nathan Lyon's pedigree.

I do expect Lyon will be a real handful but am sceptical that the Aussie pacemen will be so effective. England batted for longer in arguably tougher conditions first up and the weather might play a helping hand.

There is some rain around in the morning, although the forecast didn't materialise today so can hardly be relied upon. Nevertheless, fear of delays means I'm fully cashing out my Australia position.

In addition to this last piece of advice, I'm now laying Australia for a further four units at [1.9]. That leaves the following position.

Australia +14.4 units
Draw +14.5 units
England -9 units

Expect a defensive England performance

For me, a far better way of getting with Australia is to lay England to get 250 2nd Innings Runs at [1.9]. They won't make a serious attempt at the target and will therefore have no incentive to attack. Overs may be lost to rain. If England were to bat the day out for a draw, they would probably but might not reach 250.

Top England Runscorer is also interesting. The top order make much more appeal for the same reasons – overs may be lost and if the later batsmen are needed, they'll probably be in defensive mode. Coming in at three and primed to play a captain's innings, Joe Root is a solid bet at 3/1.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty

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