Josh Hazlewood to be Top Australia Bowler in 3rd Ashes Test: 0.5 Points @ 3/1 generally
The first Test triumph appears to have escaped the minds of many England fans even quicker than the Australian whitewashes of 2006-07 and 2013. Many believe the Australians will now steamroll England, but it seems foolish to write the hosts off at this stage.
Heading into what is sure to be a fascinating encounter, Chris Rogers remains a doubt for Australia. If he does sit out of the 3rd Test, it's likely that Shaun Marsh will come in to open for the tourists with Warner. Meanwhile, for the hosts, the in-form Jonny Bairstow will be replacing the hopelessly out-of-form Gary Ballance. Cricket experts are saying that Bairstow will likely slot in at number five with Ian Bell and Joe Root both shifting up one place in the batting order.
A lot of the focus prior to this test has surrounded the pitch and whether it will be an improvement on Cardiff and Lords. Good news is that we could finally be seeing a change, with the Edgbaston groundsmen hoping to offer something for both bat and ball by providing a wicket with more pace, bounce and carry. It will be a welcome change from the benign pitches we have seen this summer, so far, where the two matches have been played out in monotonous fashion; win the toss, bat first, put on a big total and let the deteriorating pitch do the rest.
Edgbaston has become a fortress for England with only one defeat there in the last 13 years. However, to maintain this strong record, the seam department and the top order are going to have to up their game. If the ball swings, Broad, Anderson and Wood should take a good few wickets, which will give the top order some much needed confidence. Broad was the top bowler in the 2nd Test (as predicted) and will be hoping to maintain the rhythm he has found. The top order have struggled so far this series and with the predicted wicket in addition to the Australian bowling attack, I don't see them improving much this match. This could mean that it’s up to Root (3/1) to pick up the pieces again, something that he is more than capable of.
Australia will be hoping to go into this test with the same eleven that dismantled England twice very easily. A huge plus from the previous test were the performances of Marsh and Nevill; when a team makes changes to a side it is imperative that the new additions add value to the team and both these players did. Even though it’s hard to look past Steve to be Australia's top batsman, especially after his double century at Lords, Michael Clarke is offering some decent value and considering his strong performances at this ground in the past, I wouldn't be surprised if he scores a century (9/1). Johnson topped the wickets tally for Australia at Lords (as predicted) but Josh Hazlewood wasn't far behind, picking up 3/68 and 2/20. Conditions in Edgbaston should be more favourable so don't be surprised to see him top the Australia scorecard (3/1).
An outside bet worth considering is Mitchell Marsh at 20/1 for ‘Man of the Match’ (MoM). He has performed well in all of the tour matches, scoring 100s against Kent and Essex before the first Test as well as scoring a half century and claiming four wickets against Derbyshire just last week. Obviously, those games are a step down from the international level, but it shows that form and confidence are on his side. In the Australian set up, he bats at number six and provides relief as the fifth bowler. If the pitch lives up to its expectations then the top order could struggle and against the older ball Marsh may have better chance of scoring runs. A couple of fifties or a century combined with a handful of wickets may be enough to secure a MOM performance.