On Friday the Fourth Ashes Test starts at Durham soon after the Third Test where Australia were probably robbed of an underdog victory by rain on the final day. What will Durham bring, and what should we be looking at to bet for profit?

Recommendations
England to win the Fourth Ashes Test 11/10 with SkyBet
Michael Clarke Top Australian Batsman 100/30 Stan James
Peter Siddle Top Australian Bowler at 11/4 SkyBet

Old Trafford was an important toss to win. Australia did so for the first time in the series and made use of a superb batting pitch, putting England under scoreboard pressure. The result of their near win is that pre-Test prices have changed for Durham. England are no longer odds on and are available at 11/10. Australia, routinely available at 4/1 plus earlier in the series are now 3/1 best.

The first point to note about the Riverside/Emirates Durham is that it is a good cricket wicket that should create a reasonably even contest in which winning the toss is not necessarily the only pre-condition to success. Weather permitting, it is unlikely to be a draw.

So far this year in first class cricket no side has scored more than 270 and traditionally the pitch favours the seam bowlers, aided by a ground that retains moisture as it is on the water table of the River Wear.

Whilst we would expect the Test Match pitch to be less bowler friendly than those which Durham prepare for their own team, it should neverthless be a fair contest, and a result pitch though at the time of writing, this is the pitch with the most uncertainty about how it will play. This is also only the fith ever Test Match at the ground, so we don’t have a long term history to go on either

England face some issues. With the bat, Cook and Trott are yet to fire and with the ball Broad has six wickets in three games. Anderson had a poor game at Old Trafford, albeit on an unsuitable pitch and he showed some signs of wear and tear from a lot of bowling earlier in the series. That said one through eleven they remain the stronger team, and less reliant on one of two individuals firing than Australia are. As such 11/10 represents the first “backable” outright win price of the series for England before the toss.

For Australia, much rests on Michael Clarke with the bat and Siddle and Harris with the ball.

Clarke came good at Old Trafford with a big hundred, top scoring in the first innings for a successful Betpal tip at 3/1 and is now available at Stan James at 100/30 in the same market for this Test. That is interesting because this is not a batting line up with much depth. Clarke is by far the best Australian batsman, both in this series and on his long term record.

In this series he now has 130 runs more than his nearest pursuer Chris Rogers. Rogers and Watson can go big but on form, past record and ability its unlikely that three of the top six will top score too often: Khawaja, Warner and Smith.

In terms of bowler markets, Anderson is prohibitively short at 7/4 for England. There is some uncertainty as to whether England will introduce Tremlett or, on his home ground, Onions in place of Bresnan depending on pitch and conditions. Whoever is selected as the third seamer is likely to be a value alterative to Anderson at around 7/2

For Australia Siddle has 17 wickets in the series and is always a bowler to be on the right side of as a bettor because he has boundless determination and stamina, and combined with his skill will always give you a great run for your money.

Ryan Harris has performed tremndously at both Lords and Old Trafford and is the alternative, but the risk here is that Harris is famously injury prone and rarely plays back to back Test Matches. The percentage choice here is Siddle in the Top Australia bowler market at 11/4

With England having retained the Ashes due the Old Trafford draw, the Durham Test is likely to be the defining match for whether the Ashes will be won outright again. My recommendations are as follows

Recommendations

England to win the Fourth Ashes Test 11/10 with SkyBet

Michael Clarke Top Australian Batsman 100/30 Stan James

Peter Siddle Top Australian Bowler at 11/4 SkyBet