After the pulsating five days of the First Test Match resulted in a narrow England win to go 1-0 up in the 2013 Ashes, the series moves immediately on to Lords for the Second Test starting on Thursday

Recommendations

Chris Rogers Top First Innings Australia Batsman 5/1 Ladbrokes

Graeme Swann Top First Innings England Bowler 7/2 Stan James

The Australians suprised many with a tenacious performance in the First Test, the beginnings of evidence that these are two teams closer matched in ability than many pundits expected. Having lost the Toss, they came within fifteen runs of a famous victory and will be more hopeful than ever of a competitive performance throughout the five Test series.

With the very hot weather continuing, it is likely that the pitch at Lords will be dry and favourable for batting. Win the toss, bat and put up a total to ensure you only have to bat once. Once again the bookmakers have Australia at over 3/1 underdogs, and England at Even money. It’s tempting to once again go for the underdog, hope they win the toss and at a minimum hope for a profitable trade

Two issues with that for me though

a) The fragility of some of the Australian top six batting
b) Can the Australians use spin to win, if conditions dictate?

With respect to the first point the top six needs to produce big runs, having twice been resuced by the tail scoring heavily at Trent Bridge, which won’t happen every game. Particular weaknesses are at number three, where Ed Cowan had a poor first Test and beneath Michael Clarke in the order where Smith and Hughes does not have the look of a robust number five and six circket

With regards to spin, Ashton Agar had a tremendous all round debut, top scoring as a batsman in the first innings at pre-match odds of 125-1 but only took two of the twenty wickets to fall, and didn’t look the fully fledged Test match bowling spin option.

So, having talked myself out of Australia at 3-1+ I look at a couple of sub-markets for betting opportunities.

Firstly, in the absence of the most unusual occurrence of a number 11 top scoring, the Australia batsman market sees a clear distinction between the batsmen with the beest Test Records and techniques namely Clarke, Watson and Chris Rogers and the rest. This is as it should be. Clarke should score a lot of runs this series but is priced to do so in this innings at 3-1. Watson has a habit of not converting good starts into major scores and is second favourite

Behind them is Chris Rogers, who played his second Test Match at Trent Bridge and scored fifty in the second innings. At 35, Rogers has over 20,000 first class runs and 60 first class centuries and Lords is his “home” ground having played for and then captained Middlesex for nine seasons. With nearly 1,000 first class runs in this English summer alone, he is the highest run scorer so far this season.

With a teak tough temperament, fine technique and much patience he is interestingly priced at 5-1 to Top score at Lords in a top six line up where several of his compatriots do not look to be in the running to succeed

Turning to the England team, the only change we might see is Bresnan for Finn who bowled disappointingly for the most part at Trent Bridge and Cook didn’t turn to him that often, a sign that he might be replaced for this Test.

The peerless Jimmy Anderson took ten wickets in the match with a superb combination of swing and reverse. Understandably he is a short priced favourite (2/1) to be the top wicket taker for England in their first innings in the field.

Graeme Swann appeared a bit under-cooked at Trent Bridge, in suitable conditions, and should go better at Lords on a similar dry pitch and with seventy overs under his belt. At 7/2 he is a viable alternative to Anderson, accepting that spinners don’t have a great record at Lords, given his record against Left handers of whom there are three in the Australian top six.

Recommendations

Chris Rogers Top First Innings Australia Batsman 5/1 Ladbrokes

Graeme Swann Top First Innings England Bowler 7/2   Stan James