Middle order to power England to third Test win

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Ben Stokes

The third Ashes Test match at Headingley will be pivotal to the series as England know a defeat would leave them no chance of regaining the urn from Australia.

England to win @ 5/8

The home side have not had as much success at the ground as some of their other strongholds like Edgbaston and Trent Bridge, winning only four of the last ten Tests they have played at Yorkshire CCC’s headquarters.

And they did lose heavily against the Aussies when the last Ashes Test match was staged at Headingley in 2009 as they were skittled out for 102 on day one before going to suffer defeat by an innings and 80 runs.

Australia did lose to Pakistan, however, on their visit to Leeds in 2010 so history is not on their side either.

The weather is set fair for the five days so no time is likely to be taken out of the match by the weather – making a draw much less likely than it was for the second Test at Lord’s.

But the biggest reason why England should be supported is the absence of Steve Smith from Australia’s line-up.

Smith was concussed by a Jofra Archer bouncer on Saturday and protocol demands he sit out this match, which is a huge blow for his country.

His knocks of 144 and 142 at Edgbaston rightly earned him the Man of the Match award and his 92 at Lord’s also made a big contribution to the drawn result.

Man of the Match – Jos Buttler @ 19/1

So who will be the biggest influence on the result at Headingley without Smith? Archer will be a popular pick after his rapid spells at Lord’s, but yet again it was a batsman who took the honour at Lord’s with Stokes getting the nod.

Jos Buttler looks like a good value play as he shows signs of coming bat into form with the bat after a quiet series so far.

The one-day star made 31 in the second innings at Lords after contributions of just 5, 1 and 12 in his first three knocks of the series.

And Buttler averages 81.5 in Tests at Headingley with a very handy 80 not out to his name from England’s win over Pakistan last summer.

Match Sixes – England @ 1/1

England are very temptingly priced in the Match Sixes market – especially given they hit six maximums during the course of the second Test to Australia’s none.

Their middle order boasts much more power than the tourists’ with Ben Stokes, Buttler, Jonny Bairstow and Chris Woakes all capable of clearing the ropes.

Stokes took Aussie spinner Nathan Lyon deep for back-to-back sixes on his way to a century at Lord’s and there could be more fireworks from him to come in the rest of the series.

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