England to dominate Australia in Manchester
Australia have had some welcome time off to lick their wounds after the heavy beating they took at Lord’s and there’s plenty of talk from their camp of a fight-back – even the beginnings of a miraculous turnaround – as we head into the next clash at Old Trafford tomorrow.
But what chance do the Aussies have of winning in Manchester? Can they even make it a closer encounter in the third Test than they did in the second?
Coral rate England strong 4/5 favourites to go 3-0 up in the series with Australia at 4/1 (9/4 the draw) and it is difficult to argue with that assessment. The ‘Baggy Greens’ are making all the right optimistic noises, but what else can they do? In the end it will all come down to how they deal with the bounce, spin and reverse swing at Old Trafford and everything we have seen so far suggests they will struggle.
Jimmy Anderson, now regarded by many past and present greats of the game as one of the best ever in the business, is thrilled to be back playing a Test on his home ground for the first time in three years and, unsurprisingly, he is 7/4 favourite with Coral to be England’s top bowler ahead of Graeme Swann at 11/4.
The addition to the squad of paceman Chris Tremlett (7/2) and spinner Monty Panesar (100/30) by no means weakens England’s bowling unit and the Aussies will hardly be rubbing their hands with glee if either, or both, are picked.
James Taylor is also on standby in case Kevin Pietersen doesn’t recover in time from a calf strain, but that is unlikely to cause too much of a disruption to the England batting line-up. Ian Bell and Joe Root (both 4/1 to top score for the home side) have been getting the bulk of the runs so far, but surely it is only a matter of time before Jonathan Trott (7/2) and Alastair Cook (5/1) come to the party.
The series-ending injury to James Pattinson is a real blow for the Aussies, although the fitness of Ryan Harris (11/4 to be top bowler behind 5/2 favourite, Peter Siddle) is a boost, while Jackson Bird (7/2) impressed in the tour match against Sussex last weekend and is likely to make his presence felt if selected.
Spinner Nathan Lyon (9/2) might be another to come in and help the attack, while on the batting front, bad-boy David Warner is now off the naughty step and iready to lend a badly-needed hand to the top order.
Warner is 5/1 to outscore his Australia team-mates with under-fire and so far under-achieving captain Michael Clarke still the favourite (9/4) to come good for the visitors.
Meanwhile, talk of an England whitewash (11/4 with Coral) has cooled a little over the past week or so with a 4-0 outcome now the 5/2 favourite. Either way, these predictions make pretty depressing reading for the embattled Australians, who, if they are going to make a proper test of this Test series, must get their act together this weekend.
Written by Jon Freeman