- Australia’s bowlers were finally made to toil on a lifeless MCG pitch in the Boxing Day Test and they missed the extra pace of Mitchell Starc. David Warner found some form at last with the bat, but the main man was once again captain Steve Smith, who now averages 151 in the series after yet another century.
- Former England captain Alastair Cook roused himself from the doldrums in Melbourne as he responded to the threat of being axed by carrying his bat for an epic 244 not out. Stuart Broad also produced his best performance of the series with an impressive four-wicket haul on a flat deck.
The surface at Sydney is expected to offer more assistance to the bowlers than the MCG pitch which was slammed by both teams and rated as poor by the ICC. With Mitchell Starc in line to return for Australia following his heel injury, England’s chances of claiming a first Test victory down under since 2011 look slim.
The long odds on the tourists may tempt a few punters, especially with Alastair Cook and Stuart Broad back to form, but Australia just look too strong on home soil. A decent option might be to back Joe Root in the market for top England batsman, as the visiting skipper looks to sign off from a difficult series in style. Root, who was dropped for the fifth Ashes Test four years ago before coming back as one of the world’s best players, has been comprehensively outplayed by his opposite number Steve Smith in this series but remains a class act. Having made three half-centuries so far, he will hope to convert a start to three figures in Sydney and is priced at 10/3 with Betfred to be England’s leading run-scorer.
Sports.net’s Top Tip:
Joe Root to be top England batsman
*Please note, odds may fluctuate.