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Watson to spearhead Australia to next Ashes victory in Melbourne

Shane Watson finally came to life in this Ashes series in the third Test, with his 103 off just 108 balls in the Australian second innings helping set England a monumental target that would have required a new world record to chase.

Up until this point, Watson’s scorecard for the series had read 22, 6, 51, 0, 18 and it was the way that he went after Graeme Swann in particular that was especially devastating on the fourth morning, with one over going for 22 and including three sixes.

With Swann since retiring, Monty Panesar is set to be the latest spinner to attempt to contain Australia in the fourth Test in Melbourne. But, unfortunately for Panesar, this is Watson’s favourite ground.

In five previous Melbourne innings, he has a century and three other 50s and his average of almost 89 is higher than at any other ground in world cricket.

Given Watson could not be any more confident with a ton in his last innings, Australia having already won back the Ashes and playing at his optimum venue, his price of 11/2 to be the top first-innings Aussie batsman is exceptional value.

Alternatively, it is 11/1 in the Ashes betting that Watson is named man of the match.

Looking into the match betting, an England victory definitely seems more likely than the draw after five days, despite what the odds suggest.

An England triumph is priced at 10/3 to pull the series back to 3-1 and the visitors did leave Melbourne with an emphatic victory in their last Ashes visit in 2010/11, which was also a fourth Test that started at the height of Xmas.

Meanwhile, the draw can be backed at 11/4 and this may be best opposed, as Melbourne has not played host to a draw in its last 15 Tests, dating back to 1998.

However, given that Australia have won 12 of the 14 Melbourne Tests this century, it appears that expecting business to continue as normal is the most sensible bet. Australia are 8/11 to move to within one victory of a whitewash in Melbourne.

The double of an Australia victory with Watson scoring the most first-innings runs is on offer at 7/1.