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Bell’s SCG record one reason he will be top England runscorer

There seems little opposition to the view that Gary Ballance will be handed his Test debut as England look to avoid an Ashes whitewash against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground, but who the Zimbabwe-born batsman will replace has garnered some differing opinion.

The general consensus was that Michael Carberry would make way, despite being England’s second highest-scoring batsman of the series, which in turn would result in Joe Root moving up the order.

However, the latest speculation is that Root himself will drop out, after registering just one score above 25 in his six innings since moving up the order to number three.

One player who won’t be dropped is Ian Bell and the view is that he will climb the order to bat at number three if Ballance plays. He does average as good as 40 in this position.

Bell is 4/1 to be England’s top first-innings runscorer in Sydney and his prior record at the ground does lend weight to this being a productive bet.

In Bell’s two career visits to the SCG, his two first-innings knocks have been 71 and 115, with the first of these coming when at three in the batting order.

Furthermore, Bell is yet to be dismissed by Mitchell Johnson this series, with the Aussie left-arm seamer getting all of the other 13 English players out at least once.

Captain Alastair Cook is the favourite to top the England run charts in the first innings at 10/3, with Kevin Pietersen next at 7/2.

In terms of winning the fifth Test, Australia are the obvious favourites for victory at 3/5 and they have won nine of the last 10 matches in Sydney.

England are 3/1 to grab a consolation victory, with the draw priced at 4/1.