After rain brought a halt to a thrilling Second Test at Lord’s, all eyes now shift to Headingley on Thursday night as England looks to even up the Ashes series.
Australia’s hopes have taken a hit with Steve Smith ruled unfit to play, while the Aussies now need to come up with a quick answer to Jofra Archer’s lively bouncers.
Leeds hasn’t hosted the Ashes since 2009, which brings an element of the unknown to this decisive Test.
Australia missing their star batsman also makes this a difficult betting matchup to dissect, but we’re confident we’ve found some winners in our Ashes Third Test Preview below.
Head to Head Betting
The Australians opened well over the $2.00 mark and have since drifted out to $3.00 following Smith’s late omission.
Despite a strong fightback in the second innings at Lord’s, Smith’s absence places enormous strain on the rest of the Australian order.
England is now short-priced favourites to even up the series, and rightfully so. England’s resolve was tested in the early stages at Lord’s, but the hosts still managed to put forward a respectable 258 first innings total which went a long way to securing the draw.
The batting order has been a problem for both sides so far, which in turn, has placed strain on the bowling attack. Australia’s paceman relished on day one at Lord’s as both Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood combined for six wickets, while Stuart Broad also enjoyed a Test to remember.
Without their best batsman, it’s fair to say Australia is a long shot to win the Third Test. With Smith on the sidelines, Australia’s hopes rest on the shoulders of David Warner – who so far has struggled on both sides of the ball.
Looking ahead, the Australian selectors also have some tough decisions to make. Cameron Bancroft has come under fire averaging just 11 runs during the series, while captain Tim Paine continues to struggle with the bat.
Australia could potentially bring Marcus Harris in for the Third Test, but even he mightn’t be enough to stop England’s fast bowling. Justin Langer faces an enormous challenge as he looks to combat Jofra Archer’s menacing bouncers, and with a much smoother and even pitch, the Australians need an answer in a hurry.
On a positive note, the Aussies won the last Ashes Test at Headingley back in 2009 but considering they only won the First Test thanks to Smith’s bat, it’s difficult to see the Australian order coping with the short spells of Archer and company.
For the first time in the series, the added threat of rain doesn’t look to play a factor, which is good news considering there hasn’t been a drawn Test at Headingley since 2012. The same can’t be said for Australia’s atrocious review decisions though, so with all things considered, it looks as though England should even up the series.
Tip: Back England to Win @ $1.62
Australia Top 1st Innings Run Scorer
So far during his short Test career, Labuschagne is averaging just shy of 30 runs. But with the most recent experience against Jofra Archer, he could turn out to be the saviour Australia needs in the Third Test at Headingley.
It’s difficult to envision any Australian batsman reaching triple figures, but Labuschagne might have come close last week had he not been ruled out on a controversial Joe Root catch at Lord’s.
The 25-year-old made a career-high 81-runs in Brisbane against Sri Lanka earlier in the year, so he’s certainly dude to make another big total. Don’t sleep on Usman Khawaja either – his 40 during the third innings could be a sign of things to come.
Tip: Marnus Labuschagne ($7.00) and Usman Khawaja ($5.00) Top Australian Runscorers
England Top 1st Innings Run Scorer
Ben Stokes has been chipping away nicely, much to the chagrin of the Australians.
To be fair, it’s been a mixed bag of results for the all-rounder, but while you can focus on Stokes’ 13 runs during the first innings at Lord’s, you can also look at his century in the third and expect big things.
Stokes has also put up some handy numbers at Headingley in the past, most recently in 2017 where he scored a ton against the West Indies. He’s seeing the ball nicely at the minute and is worth backing at the current price.
Tip: Ben Stokes Top England Run Scorer @ $5.00
Australia Top 1st Innings Wicket Taker
Pat Cummins showed plenty of pace during the Second Test taking a combined six wickets across both innings of work.
The world’s top fast bowler is again the favourite to lead the charge for the Aussies, and although he’s never bowled at Headingley before, he should be well-suited to the conditions.
Cummins said himself he wasn’t sure how he’d approach the slope at Lord’s, but he handled it just fine. He’ll now face a fairly predictable pitch at Leeds, one that has in the past allowed for very few runs.
England feels confident this pitch will be well-suited to Jofra Archer’s abilities, which in turn plays into Cummins’ hands.
Tip: Pat Cummins Top Australian Wicket Taker @ $3.00
England Top 1st Innings Wicket Taker
Jack Leach and Jofra Archer came on nicely in the late stages of the Second Test, but you’re best off sticking with a tried and true favourite at Leeds.
Stuart Broad has taken 42 career Test wickets at Headingley, making him one of Australia’s biggest problems after a strong four-wicket haul during the second innings last week.
Tip: Stuart Broad Top England Wicket Taker @ $3.75