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Stuart Dalgleish 26th Jul 2009 - 21:53

England won’t KP-itulate without their star man

Ian Bell has been called up to the England squad as a replacement for the injured Kevin Pietersen.

The South African born batsman has been ruled out for the rest of the series due to an on going Achilles problem, and it's not certain when the big-hitting star will return.

Pietersen aside, the rest of the team should remain the same from the Lord's Test, and why wouldn't it? The Three Lions were outstanding for pretty much all five days only performing below par in the final session on day four when Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin put on that amazing stand to frustrate England.

So with, as Shane Warne affectionately calls him, 'The Shermanator' back in the team where will he play?

It's likely he will just fill the batting position held by Pietersen at number four, but with Ravi Bopara struggling for form at number three it's not out of the question that he'll come in at the fall of the first wicket to ease a bit of pressure on Bopara.

The Aussies have been boosted by the return to form of Shane Watson and Stuart Clark in their warm up game against Northants.

Watson recorded knocks of 84 and 50 (from just 35 balls) and also took 3 wickets in the match in a 135 run win for the tourists, while Clark got match figures of 4-74. Unfortunately for Australia though, Mitchell Johnson again struggled only picking up 1 wicket in the match and conceding 107 runs in the process, although it was the winning wicket.

Due to Pietersen's injury England's match odds have drifted from 2/1 out to 10/3, the draw has now come in from 6/4 to even money, with the pitch looking far from ready and rain expected that looks to be a generous price. Ponting's men are 7/4 shots to level the series with a win at Edgbaston.

Who can get the runs for England in KP's absence?

Captain Andrew Strauss was outstanding in the first innings of the 2nd Test, smashing 161 off 268 balls and is a 3/1 chance to top the run charts for England in the 1st innings of this Test. The returning Bell, who doesn't have the best of records against Australia, is priced at 5/1 to get the most 1st innings runs for England.

In the 1st Test four Australians reached three figures including Brad Haddin who's a whopping 10/1 to grab the most runs for the Aussies in the 1st innings of this Test, while man-of-the-match from that game Ricky Ponting is the 7/2 favourite for top Australian batsman in the 1st innings.

England's bowling in the last Test was excellent, in particular Andrew Flintoff looking dangerous with every delivery, the allrounder is 3/1 to claim the most wickets for England in the 1st innings of this Test, Graeme Swann picked up some vital wickets also in the 2nd Test and he can be backed at 4/1 to take the most 1st innings wickets for England.

Mitchell Johnson, despite his recent woes, is the favourite to take the most wickets for Australia in the 1st innings at odds of 5/2, but it doesn't look great value right now. Peter Siddle has looked far more threatening than Johnson and could be a better bet at 7/2.

Overall though, even with Pietersen's injury, I think England should be able to do enough to make sure they are still ahead in the series by the time the 4th Test comes around - be that with a win at Edgbaston or the more likely looking draw.

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