Latest score: Australia 284, England 10-0
Much has changed in Steve Smith's life and to his reputation in the 19 months since he last played an Ashes test. Besides frequent booing from the crowd, it was hard to notice the difference or that this return to test cricket was particularly significant.
Smith century transforms Aussie total
Smith hit 687 runs in that series and after starting this one with 144, could be on for something similar. The former captain's innings may or may not prove a match-winner, but it was certainly a gamechanger. At 122-8, Australia looked down and out. 284 arguably puts them in front.
Indeed as Ed Hawkins pointed out in his preview, anything above 275 is competitive batting first at Edgbaston. England's openers negotiated two overs at the end of play without loss but tomorrow morning promises to be an ordeal for their fragile top order.
Anderson loss could prove critical for England
A further problem for the hosts is James Anderson, who went off after bowling just four overs. Although Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes impressively shouldered the burden with eight wickets, the second innings will be very hard work.
With rain unlikely to play too much of a part, this match looks poised for an exciting final day run chase. Generally in such scenarios backing the underdog pays off as a trade and, in this case, I suspect the betting may be the wrong way around.
? Political Gambler (@paulmotty) August 1, 2019
I'm already holding this spectacularly badly timed trade, laying England just before the Aussie collapse at [1.95]. I'm now pressing up on the Aussies at [2.66].
Outside the match winner, the liveliest current market involves England 1st Innings Runs. The par line is estimated between 275 and 300 and therefore projecting virtually tied scores.
If that proves accurate – and I'd be more inclined to go unders – [2.62] will be a nice price about the Aussies at halfway, with England a bowler down and having to bat last.
I'm not playing the runs market at this stage because it coincides with my outright position. When a bet appeals, I'll update on Twitter.
Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty
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