England have won the Ashes, and are 3-0 ahead after the pulsating final day at Durham saw them win an exciting and to that point close match. Wednesday sees the final Test at The Oval. What can bettors expect from the last Test of the series?

Recommendation

Australia to win at 3-1 with Stan James IF they win the Toss

England are 3-0 up, and yet the feeling persists that this is a closer series than the score suggests, and that it slightly flatters England.

- At Trent Bridge, Australia were well in the game until Ian Bell’s big hundred

- At Lords, England won convincingly, no flattering of England in that game

- At Old Trafford, Australia would have won bar bad weather on the final day

- At Durham the game swung both ways for four days, until the last afternoon

England have won the key points of most games and are worthy winners but have done so without performances from leading players such as Cook, Trott and Prior. Australia have two of the three top run scorers in the series in Clarke and Rogers yet both batting sides have generally under-performed.

In Ryan Harris Australia have a bowler who has taken 20 wickets in six innings and would be top series bowler if he had been selected for the First Test, whilst Peter Siddle has 17 at the most economical rate of the major bowlers.

This all promises a very close series this winter in Australia on faster, bouncier pitches where the very competitive Australian fast bowling attack will be a real threat, and without the worn pitches that have seen Swann pick up 23 wickets and prove to be the real difference between the two sides this summer.

The Oval this week promises another good batting pitch, dry and likely to take spin as the match progresses. It is a definite “win the toss and bat” pitch and if Australia do this then odds of 3-1 to win will be very attractive and the match is likely to take a similar course to the Old Trafford game.

This is without factoring in the “dead rubber” aspect where series results often reverse at the end of series asthe winning team drops its levels slightly and the previously losing team plays better without the pressure previously being felt.

The problem of course in writing a preview is, it is before the toss, an event of importance for any match but likely to be crucial for this one where a high first innings score is likely whoever bats (by high, 350+, its a stretch to give these two batting teams an expectation of 450+!) and the side batting second will face scoreboard pressure and a wearing pitch

In terms of individual players, England miss the injured Bresnan with Tremlett likely to come in his place.

One innings by Root and one by Pietersen aside, it is only Ian Bell who has been in batting form and its difficult to recommend an England top scorer. In terms of the bowling attack Anderson has looked below par in the last two test matches albeit on pitches unresponsive to swing, and Broad is streaky.He has form at the Oval, in the 2009 Ashes, but is a difficult betting prospect as it is difficult to predict when he will be on song.

The percentage choice on a dry pitch and facing three Australian left handers in the top six is Swann at 11/4 but the price has adjusted downwards from earlier in the series

For Australia, some of the selection policies have been eccentric, particularly in the bowling where the chopping and changing of bowlers from Test to Test makes predictions difficult. In the batting Clarke and Rogers remain both the form and class picks, some distance ahead of the other batsmen and of the two Clarke at 7/2 Ladbrokes is a marginal preference over Rogers at a general 4/1.

Recommendation

Australia to win at 3-1 with Stan James IF they win the Toss