When Australia bounced back in emphatic fashion to square the Ashes series 1-1 at Lord’s earlier this summer, the destination of the urn was anybody’s guess, but a colossal innings from Steve Smith looked ominous for England.
The unorthodox Aussie top order run machine reaffirmed his status as the world’s leading Test batsman, if only briefly thanks to Joe Root, by scoring 215 runs at the home of cricket.
Thanks to Smith’s imperious knock, shared in large part with opener Chris Rogers in a record second-wicket stand at Lord’s for Australia, the hosts were put firmly on the back foot, a position they subsequently failed miserably to recover from, losing as they did by 405 runs on day four.
Fast forward and the 2015 Ashes are consigned to history and although Smith ended up a loser, he’s already setting about restoring some bruised Aussie pride as the new ODI captain, thanks to victory in the first one-day match at the Rose Bowl.
Only five of those players to have started the victorious World Cup final earlier this year were present for the green and gold, but that didn’t stop Smith’s side setting what proved to be a comfortable winning total of 305/6.
Having nudged ahead in the series, the Aussies should now be backed at 8/15 to extend their advantage at Lord’s, a venue where England have lost their last two ODIs, including against New Zealand in June.
Although there were some positives for Eoin Morgan’s side in Southampton, such as Adil Rashid’s figures of 4/59 – the Yorkshire wrist-spinner is 4/1 to be England’s top wicket taker in successive matches – the middle-order collapse which saw three wickets tumble in four balls showed a brittle nature with Root being rested.
Wicked keeper Jos Buttler continues to struggle badly with the willow this summer too, making only four from 21 balls.
Meanwhile, Smith, who contributed a handy 44 at the Rose Bowl, looks good value to top score for his team at 3/1, especially given his performance at Middlesex’s home ground in the Ashes.
Smith is a 9/1 shot to be named man of the match.
<strong>All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.</strong>
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