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Stuart Dalgleish 6th Aug 2009 - 18:41

Time for Ponting to silence the boo boys

Much has been made of the booing that has been dished out to Ricky Ponting during this series, now it's time for the captain to respond in the best way possible - on the pitch.

While what Ponting (10/3 to top score in the 1st Innings for Australia) has had to endure has been fairly disrespectful, and somewhat disappointing, it hasn't really put him off his game that much - the number three has averaged over 45 so far in the series and scored a sensational 150 in the drawn 1st Test - a big score in this Test could go a long way to levelling the series for the Aussies.

With England unsure over the fitness of Andrew Flintoff (7/2 to take the most 1st Innings wickets for England), Ponting (7/2 to score a century in the 1st Innings) knows his team must take advantage while they can and steal the momentum from the Three Lions.

But do Australia have the tools to hurt England and square the series?

These are the three players that could make the difference.

Shane Watson certainly caused some damage in the 3rd Test, in an unfamiliar role of opening batsman the allrounder performed admirably scoring half centuries in each Innings. He's a 9/2 shot to top score for the Aussies in the 1st Innings of this Test, 11/8 to score another 50 in the 1st Innings).

Ben Hilfenhaus (5/2 to take the most wickets for Australia in the 1st Innings) is another who might not necessarily have thought he would have had much of a role to play in this series, but thanks to Brett Lee's (3/1) injury and Mitchell Johnson's (5/2) lack of form the fast bowler has had to step up to the plate - and how he's responded - he has the best strike rate of any of the Australian bowling attack and is currently the leading wicket taker in the series, if the Headingley wicket is swinging then England's batsmen will be in for a torrid time.

One of the players of the series so far for me has been Michael Clarke (4/1 to top score for Australia in the 1st Innings), while most of the focus has been on Flintoff's lack of fitness and Johnson's poor performances Clarke has just gone about his business while all else around him fail. His two sublime centuries should really have been enough to win at least one Test for the Aussies but unfortunately the misfiring Australian batsmen combined with some fantastic England bowling has meant his work hasn't counted for much.

If Australia can get these players to keep performing then they have a very good chance of forcing a decider at The Oval but you can bet that Andrew Strauss will want to have the series wrapped up by then.

With the concerns over 'Freddie' England's odds for the game have lengthened slightly from 11/4 to 3/1. The draw remains the slight favourite at 5/4, while the tourists have come in from 7/4 to 6/4.

Which players can make the difference for England?

Captain Strauss has led from the front all summer long, with a sensational knock of 161 in the 2nd Test at Lord's the bedrock on which England's success was built. The opening batsman is once again favourite to top score for England in the 1st Innings at odds of 11/4.

Ian Bell returned to the side at his home ground Edgbaston and made an immediate impact scoring a half century in the 1st Innings (although he was perhaps fortunate to last as long as he did with some rather dubious umpiring decisions going his way), the Warwickshire batsman is a 5/1 shot to score the most 1st Innings runs for England in this game.

England's bowling attack has performed brilliantly so far this series, leaving quite a few quality players waiting in the wings.

One of the chief performers has been James Anderson (15/8 to take the most wickets for England in the 1st Innings); the Lancashire star has improved his game in all areas over the last couple of years and is now one of the top bowlers in the world, another devastating spell at Headingley could knock the stuffing out of the Aussies.

It's sure to be a fantastic Test match full of drama - just make sure you choose William Hill as your place for live betting, with a huge range of In-Play markets to choose from you'd be a fool to go elsewhere.

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