After the 2-0 appetisers, we get to the main course section, where people really start to get twitchy.
Careers are broken, and contracts can be on the line.
After the 2nd convincing win, some pre-game idiots, had England as short as 1.80.
I tucked into this, as saw v little downside, especially as it seems to always rain in Manchester.
A week to go, and they bet :
England 2.04 .. Australia 6.0Draw 2.94
This makes more sense .. And it somewhere near, I would have put it.
(I suppose its easy, being a smart-arse, after the event .. but, if u had laid Eng, in both Tests, at odds-on, u could easily have made money, thru trading).
The series score market, is an interesting diversion, if u have time to waste.
With England leading 2-0, there are many journos/commentators, who are thinking ahead, and trying to get to a 5-0 whitewash.
This was priced at 5.4, earlier in the week, but, now with some rain maybe expected during the Manchester test, has drifted to 6.2.
This is priced more accurately .. As, simple backing of England, for each game, gives 2.0 x 1.8 x 1.7 = 6.12 .. That's assuming my prices for the 4th and 5th test are somewhere near right ..
I have never felt England are really so far ahead of Australia .. But, have confidence, and a better team spirit .. However, backing odds on chances, in tests, has never been my cup of tea, and expect England to get unstuck somewhere, with Aus getting a draw - maybe at Manchester or Durham, which can also, be pretty wet.
So, the day has arrived, and weather forecasts have been all over the place.
Currently, thinking is day 1-3 look ok, but 4/5, look wet ..
Pre toss :
Aus win a good toss, and decide to bat.
No real position yet, and couldn't lay Eng at so big a price, just yet.
Drinks on Day 1, Aus 49-0
Seamers not really getting much help .. Pitch might be two-paced, Aus score of over 350 looks likely.
Am against Aus at about 4.0.
Aus lose the 1st, at 76 .. Watson, out to a good ball, from Bresnan.
Unreal DRS decision, sees Aus 2 down at lunch.
89-2 seems okish, but, they have failed from here before, and Swann will be v hard to play, later.
At the prices, I like Eng a lot. Aus seems to me, a v cheap lay.
Aus progress, but lose Rogers on 84, Aus 131-3
Tea - Aus 180-3
Hot sun, but maybe showers Sat and rain Monday.
Some more crap umpiring, and Aus progress to 303-3 at the close.
Over a Test series, there will be swings and roundabouts, but the standard of umpiring / DRS seems well below what you would expect.
Aus can maybe post 500, and try bowl Eng out. Its likely 30 overs + will be lost to bad weather, so, maybe the draw, is the most likely result, but, it's well in the price.
Am against the draw, and have a crap book.
Some light rain in the morning, pre game, and draw crashed to 1.66, and, with an on-time start, and sun, plus runs for Aus, draw went further south, to 1.5x.
2 wkts, and it's back to 1.8x, volatile enough.
Lunch - 392-5
Have recovered book a bit, and pitch is proving it may well deteriorate quickly on day 4/5, .. Thou rain is forecast etc.
Still against Draw.
Aus declare, a few overs after tea .. 527-7
Quite an attacking dec from Clarke .. Would like to lay draw, in the 1.5x area.
Day 3 .. Weather for today, looks ok, but, MondY especially, looks worse.
After Lunch, Eng 148-4 .. Pietersen got a 50, and looking to take the game away from Aus, but, if they get him, the follow-on, looks decidedly possible.
Have worked away at my book, and now it's just against Eng, who I can't see winning.
Would like to back the Draw, but, no value, at 1.5x
Hope the draw goes much bigger, on wkts.
No wickets, and pretty poor session for Aus, with a DRS wicket, not taken, and poor new ball bowling.
Not totally convinced weather for Sunday is that bad, but, this is looking v drawing, with Eng only 110 away from avoiding follow on.
Tea - 211-4 , 315 behind.
Day 4 - Eng 303-7 .. Need 30 more, to avoid follow on, but, rain threatens to intervene, with a lot coming after lunch, and even more on Monday.
Pre play ..
Eng score runs quickly, and easily avoid the follow on.
337-7 .. 190 behind.
Draw 1.14 .. After having touched 1.11
Lunch Aus 24-1 .. Lead by 183
No rain yet, but likely to be some, in the next 90 mins .. Thou, heavy stuff, may miss to east.
Book is improving, laying 1.11 / 1.2x .. Which was a gamble, but still.
End day 4, and it's easy to heap some blame on the Umpires, for going off early, but, rain was coming later, and u could argue, Clarke should have declared earlier.
The whole series has been best with poor umpiring and DRS technology, and it should even itself out, but, it's easy to think, Aus have been hard done by.
Tomorrow will probably see only 60 overs of play, and a draw will no doubt result .. So, England retain the Ashes.
Congrats to them, but, it somehow feels v hollow.