Ray McLachlan | Wed 13/12/2017 - 07:16 EST

Ashes Series: Australia England Third Test Odds, Prediction

Ashes Series: Australia England Third Test Odds, Prediction

The Ashes - Third Test Picks

The first test at the 'Gabba was on a knife's edge for the first three days. Steve Smith's decision not to enforce the follow on in the second test led to England almost completing a monumental fightback. Yet here we are days out from the third test of the series and the Australians have a 2-0 lead, and all signs are pointing towards the home side wrapping up the Ashes with two games in hand simply because England haven't been good enough.

Furthermore, this English team are cracking under the immense pressure placed upon them by the Australians, as seen through their frequent and somewhat bizarre appearances in unsavoury media articles. If they aren't careful, they could be staring down their third 5-0 whitewash down under in four series, and the first team to suffer back to back humiliations in history.

Although the WACA is not the fast-bowling paradise it used to be renown for, there is little doubt that the Aussies will head into the third test as firm favourites, with the draw perhaps the only viable alternative on what is expected to be a fairly good batting wicket. Australia have a great record in Western Australia, while England haven't won at the venue since 1978 and have lost the last seven test matches between the two nations there. 

History is certainly against the English winning this test match, which will be the last played at the WACA ground. This is perhaps why Australia come into this match at the lowest odds of the summer to date. While you could get -175 for them in Brisbane and -163 prior to Adelaide, the home side are priced at -189 for this test. We have picked the Australians in both tests so far and we are confident of another win here. 

Will The Third Test Finish In A Draw?

The head-to-head line is the most simple method of betting on the second test, and below we outline the odds on offer from Sports Interaction. 

ashes

The head to head odds indicate Australia are the clear favourites, while England are outsiders at +350. You can also obtain +400 for the draw, which is much shorter in this match considering the conditions are expected to be batsman-friendly. The Adelaide test was not expected to go the distance given that night cricket and the pink ball are more likely to assist the bowlers, yet the match was just a few hours short of finishing in stalemate. Below is our analysis of the match, followed by our final match prediction and further betting markets.

Likely Squad Changes

After losing the first two tests and with the knowledge that a third loss would surrender the Ashes urn (or at least the commemorative trophy), the English are almost certain to make changes to their lineup, with the batting order perhaps the biggest issue at present. The problem is, there aren't too many Englishmen putting their hands up for selection.

Gary Ballance is one player who may re-enter the team, although the potential he showed in a promising start to his career has not continued. Ballance has scored just two half-centuries in the last two years and as a left-hander will be more susceptible to the world-class spin bowling of Nathan Lyon. He could certainly come in to replace Dawid Malan or James Vince, although the question would be whether there is any point.

Chris Woakes and Craig Overton did ok with the ball in Adelaide and should warrant re-selection. The only potential candidate to replace one of the two would be Mark Wood, although his fitness is a worry. In terms of spin-bowling, Moeen Ali has not caused Australia any problems whatsoever, and the WACA pitch is not likely to be conducive to turn. He will probably keep his place, although the selectors could do worse than throw Mason Crane into the lineup.

Finally, there is the story that won't go away - Ben Stokes. It's looking increasingly unlikely that the troubled all-rounder will feature in the Perth test, especially given his ordinary performances in New Zealand's domestic cricket competition. He would of course be a definite inclusion in normal circumstances - players who can contribute with both bat and ball are critical when the conditions favour the batsmen.

This is perhaps why Australia are seriously weighing up making changes to a winning side. Peter Handscomb has looked completely out of form so far in this series, and while he has only had three innings to impress, his performance in the Adelaide test was one of a player who is second-guessing himself. He could very easily make way for Mitch Marsh, who has been in form in the national domestic competition and is also a decent bowling option.

While changes may be made to either side, the reality is that England simply do not have the depth to challenge the Australians on their home turf. Captain Joe Root is still yet to make a century in Australia and averages just over 30, and unless he can inspire his teammates with a hundred in this match England don't have a chance.

We've written off the chances of an English victory, so the main question is can England bat long enough to force this match into a draw or will Australia cruise to victory?

The Case For The Draw

Both matches have gone to five days so far, owing largely to England's continued tactic of playing slow cricket. The only time they have scored at a decent rate was in the second test where they had nothing to lose and came out playing their shots. As soon as the match looked to be within their reach, they retreated and were consequently pummelled. If England can somehow muster a fearless attitude, there is a chance they can do it.

Nathan Lyon has been the chief destroyer so far in this series, and while he hasn't taken a huge majority of the wickets, his ability to tie up an end has been Shane Warne-esque, and has led to the fast bowlers benefiting from the sustained pressure. He may not be as effective at Perth, where he has taken 12 wickets in four tests at an average of around fifty. This may also help the English batsmen finally get on top for periods.

The weather is also important to consider when contemplating the draw. Although it is early days, the forecast for day four and five includes rain, while the whole match will be played in relatively mild conditions (well, mild for Perth in December anyway). If sessions are lost, particularly late in the match when there is less chance the time will be made up, this further adds to the possibility of a draw.

The Case For The Australian Win

Come on, we're talking about an Australian team that apart from a few sessions has crushed the English team. The Brits are down on form both on and off the pitch and have been plagued by scandal after scandal. It's not so much a case of whether the Australians will win, the question should be 'how quickly will England surrender the match?'.

Australia's bowling attack has not been tested at all so far this summer, and after a good rest they will once again tear through the English batsman. Mitch Marsh's likely inclusion will give the English no respite, although if truth be told he may not even bowl too much given the likely dominance of the home quicks. 

David Warner has amassed an incredible 803 runs at the WACA in just nine innings, averaging just under 90 and with three hundreds at the ground. He hasn't shown his best so far in the series, and alongside Cameron Bancroft, who will play at home for the first time in his short test career, we could be looking at a huge opening partnership. Steve Smith is due a win of the toss, having loss the first two, and if Australia bat first they could be at the crease for a while.

Our Prediction - Australia To Win And Reclaim The Ashes

At odds of -189, we certainly can't tip against the home side. The English are on a slippery slope to a third 5-0 whitewash in four tours and we can't see Perth getting in the way of this feat.  

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