Third Ashes Test Preview: Joe Root’s England Bid For Festive Cheer

Australia v England  – Third Ashes Test Match, December 26-30  – Melbourne Cricket Ground (11.30pm UK Dec 25)

Christmas is rarely associated with horror movies. But it certainly hasn’t been easy watching England this festive season.

The Boxing Day Test is the one of the jewels in the sporting crown – always an event to look forward to. For England fans, it is not looking particularly promising. 

A 2-0 deficit with three Tests to play, it is difficult to see how things can turn around to such an extent where the Ashes are regained. 

History books give a glimmer of hope

There is a crumb of comfort in that history suggests England have had some success on the festive swing; ie, the Melbourne and Sydney Tests. In 2010/11, they won at both venues, for example.

England have only won five Tests on Australian soil since, and including, 1998, with two of those coming at Melbourne and two at Sydney. Extend that stat further, and 17 of the last 24 Ashes Test wins Down Under, dating back to 1936, have come at those said venues. 

Most will see this as clutching at straws. The bookmakers certainly do. bet365, have Australia as short as 6/4 to win the series 5-0. Glenn McGrath’s not a bookie is he? 

If you want to take note of that stat, England are 11/2 (William Hill) to produce a Christmas miracle and win at the MCG next week.

The 13/8 (William Hill) shot for the Double Chance – England to win or draw – is certainly more realistic. England surely have a performance in them at some point, and factor in the unpredictability of the Melbourne weather and there is appeal in that bet.

Smith is due to ton up

Betfred are offering a first-innings top run-scorer offer for all Ashes Tests. Place a team top run-scorer bet and if your player scores a century but fails to top score, they will pay you out as a winner in cash within 24 hours.

In essence, you are effectively betting on your said player to score a century even though it is the innings top-scorer market. Steve Smith (2/1) is surely due a century. He has scored 11 in 29 Ashes Tests, including double hundreds, but he has gone three Tests dating back to 2019 without one. Marnus Labuschagne, the newly crowned world number one Test batter, is the same market leading price.

Travis Head, a centurion in the opening Test at Brisbane, is a whopping 8/1.

For England, Joe Root looks very short at 6/4 even with his immense quality. Dawid Malan at 3/1 looks better value on the back of scores of 82 and 80 at Brisbane and Adelaide.