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Ashes Update

It’s now 3/1 a whitewash for England in the Ashes series after Australia’s embarrassing capitulation at Lord’s gave the home side a 2-0 lead.

As for winning the Ashes themselves, well, it’s all over bar the shouting, according to Coral, who go 1/33 England retaining the urn and 33/1 Australia pulling off one of the greatest achievements ever in any sport by winning the last three Tests and turning the whole series on its head.

A whitewash, although predicted freely by English bulldogs like Ian Botham, was never really on the cards for serious cricketing punters and there was no trouble finding 12/1 a 5-0 result before hostilities got under way.

But the Aussies’ batting has been so inept that a total drubbing is now a realistic possibility. England are 4/6 to win the next game at Old Trafford and if it’s as easy peasy as it was at Lord’s, the visitors may well be in a hole of despair they cannot climb out of.

Statistics don’t tell the whole story, but they do point clearly to where the Aussies’ problems lie. They have averaged less than 235 runs per innings so far and if we take away last-wicket stands, that figure becomes a paltry 161.

It is to tailenders James Pattinson’s and Ashton Agar’s great credit that they top the Australian batting averages after two tests, but also a sad reflection on those at the top of the order who are actually meant to be scoring the runs.

Ian Bell aside, England haven’t been too flash in the batting department, either, if the truth be told. Joe Root came good in his fourth innings of the series, but Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen (Coral’s original three favourites to top score in the series) have still to make much of an impact. This could be seen as something else for Darren Lehmann’s besieged boys to be depressed about – how bad is it going to be when England’s best batsmen do get going?

Australia have a tour match against Sussex next weekend when they will no doubt tinker with their line-up and hope to find some form and confidence going into the next Test. Spinner Nathan Lyons may replace Ashton Agar (much more effective with bat than ball so far) in Manchester, and there is also the possibility of reserve wicket-keeper, Matthew Wade, coming in as a batsman. There’s even talk of bringing back Ricky Ponting and Simon Katich – now that would liven things up.

With Pietersen’s calf injury not as serous as first thought, England are likely to be unchanged. Spin might well play a big part at Old Trafford (Lancashire tweaker Simon Kerrigan took 12 wickets in a recent County game), but Root showed at Lord’s that he is more than capable of helping out Graeme Swann when required.

Written by Jon Freeman