Stokes to flourish as axe falls on England’s failing stars

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On each passing morning before the next Test starts on Boxing Day, England’s players will wake up to the harrowing reality that they are no longer the dominant force of Ashes cricket.

But, with the series now gone, England’s loss can be Ladbrokes customers’ gain as the expected inquest into the manner of defeat, and likely changes that follow, makes the series player markets, and specifically the top England runscorer, wide open.

A number of senior players have performed well below their best in Australia, that much is clear. The result of that lack of form could see them spend the rest of the series as spectators, leaving the spoils of being the side’s leading series runscorer to go to one of England’s less-fancied names.

Ben Stokes, in just his second Test match, scored an impressive maiden Test ton at Perth, registering the tourists first set of three figures in the process. His place in the side is therefore assured for the remainder of the tour and, at odds of 7/1, looks a cracking piece of value to be England’s leading batsman in the series.

The Durham all-rounder is just 23 runs short of Ian Bell, who currently leads the way, and after a confidence-boosting ton is surely overpriced to kick on and claim the run-scoring spoils.

At the top of the order, Michael Carberry has looked unflustered in the heat of battle, only falling for less than 30 twice so far. If he can convert one of those many starts into what the England set up calls “a daddy hundred” then his odds of 7/2 are worth taking too.

As England’s best batsman for the last two series and current top scorer, Ian Bell is the natural favourite in the betting at 5/2 but given how tight the runs are among England’s willow wielders – 37 runs separates Bell in first and Joe Root in sixth – seeking value elsewhere is advised.

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.