If any more proof was required that England are in a vice, the last-ball-of-the-day wicket of Joe Root just about does it. England’s scintilla of hope of avoiding defeat and a 2-0 scoreline disappeared with his dismissal.
With only six wickets remaining, it’s a question of when. And we refer to our day three work when we got the calculator out to work out how long the kill takes in the fourth-innings. A wicket falls on average every eight overs.
At 82 for four England are doing slightly better than many might have expected. That it is the fragile and stuttering Ollie Pope, desperate for a score to save his spot in the series, in next may well mean Australia quickly get back ‘on track’.
With that in mind the fall of the next wicket at under 103.5 runs at 10/11 has strong appeal. Nathan Lyon, getting bite and bounce, will fancy snaring Pope again while there is always more potency for him against a southpaw like Stokes.
Plays may be in short supply for those who took the advice of backing Ben Stokes at 5/1 and Chris Woakes at 25s for top England bat. Surely only Pope and an equally low-on-confidence Jos Buttler can stop us collecting? If you missed the wagers, Woakes remains an attractive proposition.
Stokes is in to 7/5 with Sportsbook while Woakes is at 17s. Pope gets a 10/3 quote and Buttler 5/1. Stokes runs and Pope’s runs are set at over 26.5 and 18.5 respectively at 10/11. Rory Burns’s 34, which is probably enough for him to keep his place, is a 9/4 chance to take honours.
Stat of the day
Haseeb Hameed became the 13th England opener to record a duck in 2021 on day four. That probably ends Hameed’s interest in the tour and puts his England career in jeopardy. Zak Crawley is expected to come in for the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.
How many do England get?
Sportsbook go over/under 204.5 England innings runs at 10/11. There are some solid statistical reasons to reckon that the value is going under.
For a start, if they manage to survive for the par 80 overs, as discussed, all should be done within 37. If they increase their run rate to a modest two an over from a current 1.89 that still puts them way short of the quote.
A collapse in the fourth is nothing unusual for this team. Four times in the last three years they have been shot out for under 200. Only recent scores in Australia and Adelaide put doubt in our mind.
England fourth-innings all-out scores since 2019
Fourth-innings all-out scores at Adelaide
Fourth-innings all-out scores in Australia
Draw might shorten
The draw price is forever flaky on the final day. Alas, England have lost too many wickets for a classic trade between the favourites and the stalemate.
What might still be possible is taking a chunk of the 22.021/1 about the stalemate and hoping that a partnership will bring it down. After all, England are now slap-bang in the middle of when the pink ball does least.
Unfortunately with this disastrous England line-up normal rules just do not apply. If you take the bet to lay back in the teens you’ll have to accept that the opportunity may never come.
Ashes series day wins tally
Australia 7 England 1