The hopes of an entire nation plummetted as England squandered the Ashes to Australia at Old Trafford on Sunday.
For Australia, given the nature of how these last few years have gone for them, it was the best possible way post-Headingly could have unfolded. From the controversial ball-tampering scandal to the disappointments of their World Cup campaign, retaining one of the most prized trophies in Cricket sunk the demons of 2018.
Joe Root and co now have to pick themselves up from this setback and prepare themselves for the last test match at the Oval.
With the knowledge that a draw will enough for Australia to confirm their win, they must go all-out. If not for their own self-esteem, but for the public.
You can take a read of what our betting tipsters think of England’s approach on our live betting page.
Our England vs Australia predictions expect the Three Lions to win the battle, but not the war…
England vs Australia Predictions
This year’s Ashes has been one imbedded in the memories of Aussies and Englishmen alike.
From Ben Stokes inspiring innings at Headingly that gave England hope of a potential resurgence, to the bowling brilliance of Jofra Archer, the ‘test-cricket-is-boring’ drones have been eating more than their share of words this summer.
Yet it was the batting of one man that turned the tide against the hosts, one whom England could not nullify: Steve Smith.
The man may have been more well-known before the innings for his part in the 2018 ball-tampering scandal, but one thing is clear; his performances across this summer’s Ashes have saved his career.
With an incredible 671 runs amassed this series, including three hundred’s and two fifties, there was simply no stopping the Australian. His part in the controversy that ensued a year earlier against South Africa will have all but been forgiven by fans across the country as he brings the Ashes urn back down under.
Australia now leads the series 2-1 and go into the fifth and final Test at the Oval with great confidence of winning the series too.
Without Jimmy Anderson in the side, if Smith bats anywhere close to the kind of form he’s been in recently, our England vs Australia predictions expect nothing less than a clean-sweep.
But here’s where we flip the tables.
The poor form of opener David Warner (79 runs in four tests) has been a big worry. Despite the fact that the likes of Marnus Labuschagne and Matthew Wade have always provided sufficient cover, Warner’s stuttering could be the perfect early wicket-tonic to revive England’s hopes.
Pair this with the speed and pace of Archer and Broad and Morgan and co could be on their way to not ending the series in defeat. Sure, their own batting hasn’t been anywhere close to the brilliance of the World Cup. But a stirring conversation around a last-gasp attempt at going out on a high could see the England batsmen rise to the challenge.
If things go south, their main mission will still centre around toppling Smith. After all, the last time the two teams faced off in an Ashes Test at the Oval (circa 2015), Australia won by an innings and 46 runs, courtesy of a Smith masterclass.
Take the Australian captain out of the question and they could have half a chance in preventing a double blow from unfolding: losing the Ashes and the final test match.
England vs Australia Head To Head
The last time England and Australia faced-off in an Ashes Test at The Oval was in the 2015 Ashes series where Australia won by an innings and 46 runs courtesy a masterful 143 by Steve Smith.
This recent capitulation at the hands of Australia will have brought back shades of 2017/18.
Smith leading the batting charge against the England bowlers, unable to nullifying his prowess is one that has haunted Root and co ever since.
But to have it done to them again, by the same man, a year down the line is another thing altogether.
With shades of Sir Donald Bradman about his play, Smith’s faultless batting has taken the Aussies this far. Based on previous innings in previous Ashes – which the hosts edge – our England vs Australia predictions expect more of the same this Thursday.
England Team News
England still have the absence of their all-time leading wicket-taker to ruminate over.
Whether it was right or wrong to have started Anderson in the first test, four weeks after tearing a calf while playing for Lancashire is debatable. What we can be clear on is that the Englishman bowled only four overs as a result in the series. Not one of those 24 balls were delivered to Smith.
Without one of the greatest swing bowlers to have ever played the game, coming up against a side led by the planet’s best batsman is pretty foolhardy.
It doesn’t help that the Three Lions will once again go into this final Ashes test without Anderson – a predicament that our England vs Australia predictions forecast as a bad omen for the hosts.
Yes, Broad and Archer have performed admirably in his absence. But it’s just not the same, y’ know?
Australia Team News
In comparison, Australia will be able to field their strongest starting XI.
There were a few health scares concerning their talismanic captain. Indeed, Smith had to face pacey deliveries from both Broad and Archer, one of which struck him on the neck.
The 30-year-old was also struck on the forearm by the same man, who bowled consistently in the excess of 90mph.
Fortunately, Smith seems to have recovered from that torrid afternoon. And alongside his teammates, is fit and raring to go ahead of Thursday.
England vs Australia Betting Tips
With the betting tips still undisclosed, our England vs Australia predictions still wagers in the favour of a draw.
England’s odds of a draw in that famous Ben Stokes-inspired victory at Headingly were pretty much null, wagering at 30/1 before the drama unfolded.
Our betting tipsters will be wagering on a similar platform. Yet, this time, the draw won’t be enough to deny the Aussies of a historic Ashes win.