Moeen can spin England into a 1-0 Ashes lead on day four

The experts appear unanimous in their belief that England will go on and convert a mammoth advantage into victory in the first Ashes Test at Cardiff, especially with a hardening pitch now very conducive to spin.

Ladbrokes make England the 4/11 favourites to grab the 10 wickets they need before the Aussies can knock off 412 runs.
Michael Clarke’s tourists are 5/2 outsiders to make the third highest successful chase in Test history and with two days left to play a draw feels inconceivable at 16/1.

BBC correspondent Jonathan Agnew has labelled England’s performance “flawless” up to now, while fellow pundit Geoffrey Boycott proclaimed Australia “have a cat in hell’s chance” of winning the first Test.

It’s hard to disagree given the pace of the game up to this point, the pitch, and the way England’s bowlers have performed in the match so far.

Five wickets fell for just 44 runs on the third morning at Sophia Gardens as Australia’s tail crumbled at the hands of Jimmy Anderson, who notched a quick-fire three-for armed with a new ball.

With all five of England’s bowlers getting in on the act – Stuart Broad, Mooen Ali and Chris Wood claiming two a apiece and Ben Stokes the other – the omens are particularly good.

None more so than for off-spinner Moeen, who can only have been greatly encouraged by toppling Austrailia’s best two batsmen in the first innings, but more pertinently by the turn Nathan Lyon was able to generate on a third-day surface.

The Aussie off-breaker finished up with 4-77, having dismissed opener Adam Lyth with a beauty that spun sharply to draw the edge, before Clarke took a superb one-handed diving catch.

Given the track will now be even firmer and scattered with patches of rough from either side of the crease, Moeen looks certain to have a big say in the outcome of this Test.

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

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Christian Crowther

Give Christian a sport with anything remotely spherical in it and he’ll happily while away the hours watching it on the box. However, he’d much prefer writing about, playing or betting on golf, football, cricket, tennis, snooker.... you get the picture.