The Ashes were supposed to be cricket’s headline act this summer, but thanks to a quite incredible, ding-dong ODI series bursting with runs against New Zealand, the five Test-match spectacle has been placed firmly on the backburner.
The only downside is that this memorable series with the Kiwis has to end, but poised as it is at 2-2, the last hurrah should be the most thrilling yet.
The big question is who will win? Being World Cup finalists only a few months earlier, it is no surprise to see Ladbrokes label the Black Caps as 4/5 favourites to win the match and clinch the series.
Brendon McCullum’s men may have seen their last score chalked off in record fashion by Eoin Morgan’s mob at the Rose Bowl, but heading to Durham they’ve still yet to taste successive defeats in the series.
England have, but by a few other measures, not least the home support, they may just have their noses in front arriving at Chester-le-Street, making the 1/1 on the host’s success a delightful price.
Thanks to some of the crispest ball-striking in 50 overs cricket witnessed on these shores, this utter caning of both bowling attacks has actually been marginally easier on England.
None of the six bowlers deployed by McCullum had economy rates lower than seven last time out and while the Kiwis still posted a healthy total of 349, their own batting line-up is the only one to have properly misfired at any stage during the hostilities.
England’s lowest score remains 302 all out, their best 408, compared to New Zealand’s 198 all out at Edgbaston and 398 at the Oval.
If it hadn’t been for the rain interruption at the Oval, England’s eventual Duckworth-Lewis loss could very easily have proven to be a phenomenal victory, even better than the one they just recorded as they hunted down another whopping target.
In a two-horse race, backing this new-look, shackle-free England side is the only way to go.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £25 in free bets.