England’s hopes of retaining The Ashes with two matches to spare were given a significant boost on day four at Old Trafford as Joe Root and the Manchester weather combined to diminish Australia’s hopes of victory.
Australia’s plan of rattling off enough runs to declare and have a whole day to claim 10 wickets started brightly with the visitors reaching 172-7 – a lead of 331 – in the early part of the evening session.
David Warner – notorious for scoring runs quickly – was promoted up the batting order to do just that but the controversial Aussie fell victim to a dose of poetic justice as England’s Joe Root – the recipient of a pre-Ashes Warner punch – caught a shot at deep square leg to limit him to 41 of 57 balls.
That Root was the man to end Warner’s innings was a moment not lost on the Old Trafford crowd who cheered his dismissal as loudly as if it were a match win in itself.
However, Australia still had a huge lead and were looking to press on in order to secure a win and take the series to 2-1 when bad light became the hot topic of the afternoon.
Captain Michael Clarke pleaded with the umpires not to send the players off early due to the lack of light but his calls fell on deaf ears. However, the decision was deemed irrelevant 30 minutes later when rain forced play to end some two hours early.
As such the match betting market is pointing to a draw as the most likely outcome with a price of 1/7, while Australia – if anyone – are deemed the most likely winners at 5/1.
The hosts can be backed at 16/1 to secure an unlikely victory and keep hope of a 5-0 series whitewash alive but with a draw enough to ensure that the Ashes remain in England, Captain Cook and co are unlikely to go all out in search of the runs required to win.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing