Ashes 3rd Test: Bairstow inclusion a real boost for England
England (3/1 chances with Coral) go into the third Ashes Test low in confidence following their 405-run thrashing at the hands of Australia (5/6) at Lord’s, despite the scores being level on 1-1 with plenty of action to come.
In a bid to give themselves a boost, the hosts have decided to call up perhaps the most in-form batsman in English cricket, Jonny Bairstow, to replace his fellow Yorkshire star Gary Ballance for Edgbaston.
The young wicketkeeper will not take a place behind the stumps, with Jos Buttler retaining the gloves, but likely slot in at number five in the batting order, where another country clubmate, Joe Root, was before.
Bairstow has not had the best of starts to his Test career, averaging just 26.95 and yet to hit a hundred in his first 14 matches, but has been on fire this year and simply had to get picked. He is 11/2 to be best England batsman in the first innings.
“Naturally it’s quite exciting, and I’m really looking forward to getting my teeth into it,” he said. “I’m pretty pleased with the form I’m in.
“It’s obviously going to be a different challenge with different expectations, but as long as I’m trying my best that’s all I can do. I might get no runs, some runs, who knows?”
Root, though, will be keen to score big this Test too, after managing knocks off just 1 and 17 at Lord’s, but has been moved up to four in the order and is 11/4 to be best England first innings batsman.
But it was form-lacking Ian Bell that got the surprise promotion to number three, Ballance’s old position, despite England’s top order troubles in recent years. This could be the veteran’s last chance to save his international career and he is 9/2 in the same market.
Do Bell and Root promotions mean future Kevin Pietersen return is possible?
In terms of bowling, Stuart Broad has been the hosts’ star so far, and is 11/4 to be best with the ball for England this time round too. Moeen Ali has also impressed, and is a tempting 5/1 shout.
For the Aussies, Steve Smith is the main man, and has returned to the top of the Test batting world rankings after his super 215 hit last time out. Back him at 3/1 to be best Baggy Greens batsman once more.
It looks as though opener Chris Rogers is fit to return too, after having to retire stranded on 49 in his second innings after suffering from dizziness. He is priced at 9/2.
Australia look set to stay unchanged, after making three replacements for Lord’s, and Mitchell Johnson has found his touch after taking six wickets in the second Test. Back him at 11/4 to be best Aussie bowler again.