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Ashes Series update

It was all so very close in the end, but the thinnest of thin edges from the inside of Brad Haddin’s bat and a final, crucial and successful DRS review means that England are now overwhelming favourites to go on and win the Ashes.

Coral go 1/6 England, 8/1 Australia (8/1 the draw) and though the winning margin in this opening encounter was a mere 14 runs, there was enough evidence over four and a half enthralling days at Trent Bridge to suggest that the gap is likely to prove wider than that by the end of the series.

England had the Aussies on the ropes and ready to drop twice and would have won convincingly but for the incredible last stands of Phil and Hughes and Ashton Agar (163 in the first innings) and Brad Haddin and James Pattinson (65 in the second). Yes, that was due to talent and stubbornness and not simply down to bish bash bosh and a bit of luck, but Australia can’t rely on such unlikely heroism every game. And the demoralising effect of a fifth Test defeat in a row should not be underestimated.

Agar was fantastic, a real breath of fresh air, not only the way he batted, but also the way he conducted himself both on and off the pitch. And after the fantastic fireworks of his debut knock on Friday, he also showed what a sound defence and temperament he had when the situation demanded in his second innings – he’s a proper batsman as well as a highly promising spin bowler.

The 19-year-old is Australia’s top scorer after the first match with a total of 112 runs, but Coral don’t expect him to stay there for the series, however high he is promoted in the order. They go 25/1 Agar to end the summer as top Aussie batsman with captain Michael Clarke – disappointing in Nottingham but a proven class act – 100/30 favourite as well as 8/1 to be top run-maker from  both sides.

Ian Bell’s century puts him in the box seat to be the leading batsman (5/2 England, 5/1 overall), but Kevin Pietersen (3/1 and 5/1), Alastair Cook (7/2 and 11/2) and Jonathan Trott (4/1 and 7/1) all made a few at Trent Bridge and will also have their supporters.

Man of the Match Jimmy Anderson is 1/2 to be England’s top bowler following his ten-wicket haul and 13/8 to take the most wickets in the series overall. It’s as well Cook persevered with Anderson on Monday morning, but it was a brutal shift in the heat and the one concern about the Burnley Express is that he doesn’t burn himself out with so much work still to be done.

Written by Jon Freeman