England go odds-on for a fifth Test victory thanks to Cook and Strauss

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It may have been a horrific start to the Ashes series for Mitchell Johnson, but once again he came to the aid of his team-mates with a knock of 53 that saw Australia finish on 280.

After a rain interrupted first day, England managed to take out the Aussie tail end soon after lunch before Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss managed a 98-run partnership as England looked to build a big lead.

At stumps on day two, Hilfenhaus had taken the wicket of Strauss and Johnson the wickets of Pietersen and Trott as England finished the day on 167-3, 113 runs adrift of Australia.

With Cook looking solid at the crease, England have been slashed into 4/6 from 5/4 to win the fifth Test, but it will take a strong third day’s batting to put them in a commanding position to reflect their Ashes betting odds.

The Sydney pitch has always been a bowlers haven with just 32 of a possible 103 Ashes innings ending in scores over 300, and the 5/6 for England to score under 389.5 runs looks the best bet.

Should Cook depart early tomorrow morning, it is unlikely England will take a big lead into the second innings and there will be just two days to complete the final two innings.

Meaning the draw, priced at 11/4, is looking excellent value.

James Anderson has joined Cook at the crease as a night watchman, and Anderson is 5/6 to make under 8.5 runs – a decent bet considering his scores have been 11, 0, 3, 1 and 1 this series.

It’s tough to see how Australia can turn around this Test match considering their form, but with pride on the line, the 7/2 for Australia to win may be a little long.

A £10 stake on Matt Prior top-scoring for England in the first innings would return £130. New customers can sign up here for a free £10 bet.

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Robbie Morris

Robbie studied sports journalism at the University of Gloucestershire, an establishment chosen for its proximity to Cheltenham racecourse, where he was a season ticket holder. Upon graduation, Robbie was a contributor to GolfPunk, a national magazine aimed at ridding golf of its traditionalist image, before joining the news.ladbrokes team.