ROBIN HUTCHISON PREVIEWS THE SECOND INVESTEC ASHES TEST
THE second Investec Ashes Test, which begins today, has a lot to live up to if it is to match the drama we witnessed at Trent Bridge last week.
England prevailed – but by the narrowest of margins – after an enthralling five days, thanks largely to the second innings stubbornness of Ian Bell and inspired bowling of Jimmy Anderson.
That they did so by only 14 runs certainly disproved theories that this particular renewal of old rivalries would be one-sided.
Yet I suspect the closeness of the result had more to do with England under-performing with the bat than it did to the brilliance of their opponents. As a result, I’m happy to back them again – particularly at even money with Coral – despite the admirable record of the Australians at Lord’s. Remarkably, the tourists have suffered just one reversal in Test cricket on the ground since 1934.
That was on their last visit in 2009 – and, with some of the same personnel still involved, I envisage similar heartache ahead for Clarke and Co.
England have also got a good record here. In the last 10 Tests nine have produced a winner, and on eight of those occasions it was the hosts who took the honours.
Given that the weather is set fair again, I think we can rule out the draw. In fact, if Anderson achieves the same amount of swing, be it orthodox or reverse, we can rule it out for that reason alone.
Yet in all the triumphant celebrations which greeted the climax of the first Test, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that the world record No11 score has now been set in successive summers against this England attack. There is absolutely no room for complacency.
I backed FTI Most Valuable Player leader Anderson to be top England bowler in Nottingham and would have no hesitation in doing so again, even though he’s pretty short at 7/4 with Coral.
Having said that, I wonder if it is worth investing in Steven Finn at more than double that price across the board, assuming he gets the nod.
He was the one disappointment among David Saker’s charges last time out, bowling too short and with too little guile when called upon.
His confidence has also been questioned despite being one of England’s most consistent performers on the tours of India and New Zealand this winter.
Yet his record on his home ground is far better than elsewhere and he should now know how to get the most out of the famous slope.
Before backing him it is worth checking with your bookmaker that they’ll refund your stake if he is replaced. If so, it is a bet to nothing.
There’s also an assumption that this game will go to the wire again. But given the nature of modern Test cricket, I’m tempted to have a dart on it finishing on days one, two or three at 49/6 in Betfair’s market, covering myself with savers on the morning and afternoon of day four at 143/10 and 9/1 respectively.
If England put the peddle down they can leave this lot behind.
England at evens with Coral
Steve Finn to be England’s top first innings bowler at 4/1 with Coral
Second Test to finish on days one, two or three at 49/6 on Betfair