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England can take first-innings SCG lead, despite latest Aussie recovery

| 03.01.2014

It is not in the same league as Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, but taking the final five wickets in a cricket match should be much easier than gaining the opening five.

However, for the fifth successive Test of this Ashes series, England have tried their best to prove this theory wrong. In all five matches, Australia have been 141/5 in their first innings, but have somehow recovered to post acceptable totals.

The last five Aussie wickets average 214 in this series and the exploits of Brad Haddin, not for the first time, and Steve Smith have seen Australia scrape their way to 326.

Australia’s odds have shortened as a result from 3/5 to win to 1/3 and slightly surprisingly, this score of 326 is the highest registered by the team batting first at Sydney in five Tests.

England’s price for victory remains fairly similar at 7/2, but even though Michael Carberry is already out for 0 to leave them 8-1, there are three crumbs of comfort which may suggest this is a price worth considering.

Firstly, Ben Stokes’ first five-wicket Test haul must give him added confidence ahead of batting and he has already scored one century this series.

Secondly, fast bowler Boyd Rankin is reportedly suffering from cramp and not a hamstring tear as first feared, meaning that England will not be a bowler light in the Australian second innings.

And thirdly, the team batting second in Sydney typically establishes a first-innings lead.

In the last seven Tests at the ground, the team batting second has racked up at least 327 in their first innings on every occasion and in six of these examples, they have been ahead in the match.

It is 5/6 that England score 246 or more in their first innings and 9/4 that they post a total of 327 or more.

Ian Bell could be the man to score the lion’s share of England’s runs. Find out more on why here.