As England bulldoze through Australia with a level of ease only Sir Ian Botham dared to predict – it would be a 10-0 Ashes year according to Beefy – one thing that has caught everyone by surprise is the lack of runs from Alastair Cook.
The England captain is yet to add to his 25 Test hundreds but his record of one every seven innings (it is five since his last), and his proven ability to score big tons, make him cracking value with Ladbrokes (4/1) to top score in the first innings at Old Trafford.
The skipper has not been a complete failure this tour; he got to exactly 50 at Lord’s before surrendering his wicket cheaply – the only time since taking the reins that he has failed to convert a half into a full century.
Cook likes making big scores against Australia too: in the last Ashes series he totaled 148 in Adelaide, 189 in Sydney and a mammoth 235 in Brisbane.
Admittedly there is quite a difference between batting in the glorious sunshine of the Gold Coast and beneath the perpetual grey cloud above Manchester, but Cook’s record at Old Trafford is solid enough.
The 28-year-old amassed 127 against Pakistan in his first Test at the ground in 2006, fittingly a game that also followed on from Lord’s. He has since bagged another century there giving him a 50 per cent strike rate in his four visits to Old Trafford.
A big hundred from his opening partner at the Home of Cricket was another tick in the Cook box.
After a third-straight failure with the bat, people had already began to doubt Joe Root’s place at the top of the order, but his match-winning 180 worked to both silence the critics and lift a weight off the skippers’ shoulders. Ladbrokes are offering money back on losing match bets if the Yorkshireman top scores again, a solid insurance for those predicting an Aussie resurgence.
All things considered it is hard to see England’s leading century-maker not imminently adding to his tally though, and the way his career has gone so far, there’s every chance that he’ll be the man to put the final nail in Australia’s coffin.
All Odds and Markets correct at time of publication