Many thought that this Ashes series would be about as close as Sydney is to London. But we have all been proved wrong – it looks like being a nail-biter and it gets underway again on Thursday at Edgbaston with everyone raring to go after the ten-day break.
The series is set up nicely and with the Australians up against it at 1-0 down, they will be searching for a way to get themselves back on level terms.
It must be difficult for Ponting and his men to take; they came so close during the first Test in Cardiff, having outplayed the English for long stretches of the game before failing to finish off the tail. And then they produced that poor first innings at Lord’s which is the reason they are now behind.
With defeat comes doubt and there are questions being asked about a number of their players, not least their bowling attack.
Mitchell Johnson is having a torrid time. To say he is not performing is like saying that Attila the Hun was a bit of a lad! He came here on the back of a tremendous tour in South Africa where he took sixteen wickets at 25 whilst helping the Aussies to a Series victory.
He currently has eight at 41 in this series but it is his line that is the cause for mockery – ‘cows backside and banjo’ is the phrase that best sums up his accuracy.
There is a possibility that Steve Harmison may be recalled in place of Graham Onions by the English for the third test. If he is, the Durham man should thank Johnson as the Aussie’s bowling is that wayward it makes Harmison’s first delivery in the 2007 series look like line and length!
The wicket at Edgbaston looks set to be a dog with curator Steve Rouse bemoaning the weather, “we’ve had two actual dry days in the last ten and the wicket is like jelly, I’ve got no chance of getting it solid, not with the weather coming in.” Rouse said.
That has led to the conjecture that the Aussies will elect to go without the spin of Nathan Hauritz which should see “Mad Eye” Johnson keep his place and the addition of a fourth seamer, either Stuart Clark or Brett Lee.
The Australians would love to see Lee back in the starting line up, the psychological boost that it would give the rest of the team would be tremendous but it now seems unlikely given that the New South Welshman missed the three day win against Northamptonshire, limiting himself to stretching exercises and straight line running.
That suggests he is nowhere near to full fitness and could open the door for a return to the side for Stuart Clark who had figures of 4 for 74 against Northants and was one of Australia’s best bowlers during the 07 series.
Johnson had another banjo swinging game at Wantage Road, finishing with one for 107 which wouldn’t have done anything for his confidence; he will be desperate to turn things around on Thursday.
With the pitch expected to be flatter than a bottle of lucozade after a week by the hospital bed, there are some very interesting and diverse markets to consider. A match in the region of 2.0 should be attainable on the Aussie openers reaching 40 during their first innings, which is a great price.
A match on an Aussie batsman making a ton during the first innings has already been achieved at 1.82, cracking odds. The price attainable now is a much more realistic 1.5 which if the wicket does prove to be dead, is still very tempting.
At least some good has come from the Aussie bowling thus far this summer in the form of a little light relief for Sir Allen Stanford as he awaits trial in the US. He is no longer the most crooked thing in cricket – Mitchell Johnson’s attempted yorkers are!
Reproduced with permission from betting.betfair.com. Ã‚Â© The Sporting Exchange Limited
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