The Ashes - Fourth Test
MATCH UP STATS
The Ashes - Fourth Test
First innings leadAustralia: $1.52 at CrownBetEngland: $2.75 at William Hill
CHRISTMAS 2017 will be a joyous occasion for the Australian men’s cricket team.
The Ashes are sewn up and a whitewash is on the cards as we head into the annual Boxing Day Test.
However, the Aussies may have to negotiate the rest of the series without their leading wicket-taker.
Mitchell Starc will sit out with a bruised heel, thus opening the door for Jackson Bird to play his first Test since last year’s clash with Pakistan at the MCG.
There was another big scare on Sunday when Steve Smith was hit by a stray ball in the nets, but David Warner was quick to brush off concerns over the skipper.
“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with him. He’s fine,” said Australia’s vice-captain told the press.
“You’ve seen his reactions out in the middle every time something happens. He’s a very fidgety character.
“He was just confused how it got there. I think we all were. I think it hit the top of the rail and flicked up.”
England have selection dilemmas of their own.
Craig Overton is out with a busted rib, which could see South Africa-born seamer Tom Curran make his Test debut.
There is also a suggestion that young leggy Mason Crane could play on a Melbourne wicket that has produced plenty of spin in Sheffield Shield cricket this year.
Steve Smith betting tips
|Man of the match||+550||+450||+400|
|To score 100 (first innings)||+250||+275||–|
|Top Australia batsman (first innings)||+220||+225||+200|
|Most runs vs. Root and Warner||+125||+140||+165|
How can you look past a guy who is fresh off a double century?
That mega knock in Perth took Smith’s series tally to 426 runs at an average of 142.00.
The bad news for England is that Melbourne is one of the Aussie skipper’s favourite venues.
He averages 127.60 there after scoring centuries in each of the last three Boxing Day Test matches.
Most importantly, every one of those MCG tons came in the first innings.
Boxing Day Test predictions
How can England win?
The tourists have had opportunities to assert dominance in every Test this series, but they’ve squandered all of them.
Now they are missing their most impressive bowler on a deck that is expected to offer something for the seamers.
The Brits need much more from the likes of Alastair Cook, Joe Root and Moeen Ali, the latter of whom has failed to make a significant impact with bat or ball.
Australia might be without their most dangerous quick, but that only gives the exceptional Pat Cummins a chance to play more of a striking role.
The middle order is in fine form and the tail is wagging in a big way, while the openers have looked rock solid without putting up big scores.
Conditions could bring England’s swing bowlers into the game, but the hosts will be very hard to beat with a 5-0 series win in their sights.
Australia to win – -161.29 at William Hill
Ashes betting specials
Online bookmaker Neds.com.au has special odds of +150 on all four opening bats in the first innings:
- Mark Stoneman to score 28 runs or more
- Alastair Cook to score 30 runs or more
- Cam Bancroft to score 31 runs or more
- David Warner to score 39 runs or more
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