Can Buttler call-up spark Cook and England back to life?
All eyes will no doubt be on under pressure captain Alastair Cook for England’s third Test with India at the Rose Bowl, and the rest of the series, as the 29-year-old desperately seeks runs and a victory. His side are 6/4 favourites to beat the tourists in Hampshire.
However, there is another who has been grabbing media attention; Jos Buttler, but for a good reason. The young wicketkeeper/batsman sensation has been given his first call-up for England, after impressing in the shorter form of the game and at county level.
Buttler’s promotion to the 13-man squad comes after long-serving man behind the stumps Matt Prior decided to take a short break from the game to recover from multiple injuries. You can back the new Lancashire player, who has one century and five 50s for his county this season, at 9/1 to top score for the hosts in the first innings.
There was bad news for Buttler’s new clubmate, spinner Simon Kerrigan, though, who was hoping to feature but has been left out by Peter Moores. The head coach has decided to stick with part-time slow bowlers Moeen Ali (6/1 to be best with the ball for England) – who took three wickets at Lord’s – and Joe Root (20/1).
Besides the call-up of Buttler, Moores’ starting line-up is expected to stay the same, but there are reports that Ben Stokes may be replaced by one of like-for-like players Chris Woakes or Chris Jordan.
New Zealand-born Stokes, 23, has been woeful with the bat this series so far, getting three consecutive ducks, although his bowling has been more impressive – he took seven wickets at 33.14, a better average than the other seamers.
In terms of batting, England can rely on Yorkshire duo Root and Gary Ballance who continue to highly impress. The latter got a century in the first innings last Test at Lord’s, while the former has hit a double hundred and 150 recently. They are both priced at 4/1 to top score for their country.
If you fancy Cook to finally regain form and perhaps hit his first hundred in just over a year and 27 innings, then back him also at 4/1 to be best England batsman in the first innings in the 3rd Test. You can also take odds of 20/1 for him to make a dramatic turnaround and get the most runs for his side for the series.
Murali Vijay impressed again for the visitors, falling just short of a century (95) in the second innings at Lord’s. You can back him at 4/1 to be best India batsman in the first, with century-maker Ajinkya Rahane a 5/1 chance.
England are by no means out of this series yet, being 1-0 down with three matches to go, and you can take enticing odds of 4/1 for them to win overall. India, meanwhile, are odds-on at 4/7, with a draw priced at 3/1.