Bell to hit a bounce-back ton in third Ashes Test at Edgbaston

It may have been the venue for the finest moment in Ashes series history, but Edgbaston hasn’t actually hosted a Test match of any kind since 2012.

Now, almost 10 years to the week since Michael Kasprowicz gloved Steve Harmison to Geraint Jones back in 2005, the Birmingham ground will once again welcome five-day international cricket to its confines.

The Test-match return to Edgbaston coincides with Ian Bell’s promotion back to number three in England’s batting lineup.

Now that Gary Ballance has been jettisoned from Alastair Cook’s side and replaced by Jonny Bairstow, Bell is the next man most culpable of poor form.

The calendar year has seen the England veteran score just 271 runs at an average of 20.84, yet one of the only two men remaining from that 2005 classic is up the order for his home-ground Test.

The thinking from England is sound: promote Bell up the order where he plays county cricket, simultaneously handing the most experienced player in the side the added responsibility of steadying the side’s shaky top order.

It’s a move that could inspire the 112-cap veteran to rediscover his best form or it could end his career. The stats encourage the former.

Bell averages a respectable, if not dazzling, 39.27 as a number three batsman for England and has 260 runs at 43.33 in all positions when playing at Edgbaston.

His highest ever Test score came at first drop four years ago when he scored 235 at The Oval against India. He is 6/1 to score a century against an Australian side with all the momentum after a thumping triumph at Lord’s.

That pendulum swing is highlighted by Ladbrokes’ match odds for the 3rd Test, where Michael Clarke’s visitors are 5/6 favourites to win.

Cook’s outfit can be backed at 3/1 with the bookmaker and the draw is available at 5/2.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.