While the film Stand By Me is largely considered one of cinema’s all-time coming of age tales, the second Ashes Test at Lord’s could now be considered its sporting equivalent.
However, while River Phoenix et al wandered into the woods in search of a dead body, Joe Root wandered into the middle of the Lord’s pitch in search of runs.
Certain sections of the cricketing world had questioned the Yorkshireman’s position at the top of the England batting order going into the series but an inspired 178 not out on day two at Lord’s more than justified the 22-year-old’s spot.
His innings was not without incident – he was given a reprieve on just eight runs when wicketkeeper Brad Haddin and first slip Michael Clarke dithered over a straightforward catch – but Root grew in stature from then on in and forced Australia to pay with a calm and commanding batting display at the home of cricket.
Thanks to the opener – and a solid 74 from the increasingly-dependable Ian Bell – England are now 1/12 favourites to secure a 2-0 series lead after closing day two with a lead of 566 and five wickets remaining.
Scale back the entire history of first-class cricket and you will fail to find any side that has chased down a total that high to win in the fourth innings and this is reflected in the Baggy Greens’ pricing as 20/1 outsiders.
Those fancying Australia to muster the stubbornness required to force a draw could be tempted by the 20/1 saying they can, but their totals in the series thus far do not offer much evidence that such a feat can be achieved.
Root and – arguably the man of the series so far – Bell have put in such dominant displays that the hosts now find themselves as heavy odds-on favourites to win the series outright.
Ian Botham’s tip that England would secure back-to-back Ashes by a 10-0 score-line was roundly derided as blind patriotism by many before a ball had been played, but with England now 1/16 to secure this series and Australia seen as 40/1 outsiders money for Beefy’s prediction could soon start flowing in.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing