Well Edgbaston was fun, wasn’t it?!
It was a fantastic Test match and England’s turnaround in fortunes after Lord’s was absolutely brilliant to watch.
It’s a great time to go 2-1 up in the series, and now the boys are in a perfect position to go and win the Ashes at the wonderful Trent Bridge.
Swing When You’re Winning
The conditions in Birmingham were all set up for one man, and when Jimmy Anderson is in that kind of mood he’s almost diabolically good.
His 6-47 on the first day was incredible. He was making the ball move so much and got into a really good rhythm. He’s going to be missed violently by England at Trent Bridge, that’s for sure. I know everyone’s putting a brave face on it and claiming that it offers a good chance for others but I’m devastated he’s not fit, no matter what they say.
Jimmy was making the ball move laterally on that Edgbaston wicket, and I’ve always said that the Australian batsmen wouldn’t be comfortable when that was happening.
Don’t get me wrong, we’ve shown on plenty of occasions that we can struggle with it too, but I just feel that Australia are less used to it than we are. When England go to Australia they have often struggled on wickets that are hard and fast, and this is similar. It makes sense to prepare these wickets on which Jimmy and Stuart Broad will thrive.
There’s no doubt about the feelgood story of the Test though.
I was absolutely delighted for Steven Finn to take eight wickets in the match. He’s genuinely the nicest bloke in world cricket, and not easy to say that about a fast bowler!
Given everything he’s been through it was a fairly emotional moment when he got that wicket of Steve Smith in his first over. Finny’s gone from losing his action and being almost cast aside to being man of the match in a winning Ashes Test, and I was thrilled to bits for him, really proud. Good on him for bouncing back.
Wood I Lie To You?
With no Jimmy around that obviously puts more emphasis on Finny for the fourth Test, and if he’s fit I’d bring back Mark Wood to add to the attack as I felt he did well in the first two Tests.
I was very impressed with him. He swings it, bowls at a good pace and should hopefully be able to take wickets at Trent Bridge. I think it would make more sense to bring him back rather than turn to Mark Footitt or Liam Plunkett.
Now Onto Nottingham
Obviously I know Trent Bridge very well, and I love it there, it’s beautiful, even though it was often an awful place for me to bowl!
It’s a great venue, a really friendly place to watch your cricket, and the people of Nottingham certainly know how to put on a sporting event. They’ll all be out in force to support England as this is a huge event for them, and hopefully that passion will transmit to the England players.
And one of those who is certain to feed off the crowd is local boy Stuart Broad, who will love this opportunity to win the Ashes for England on his home ground.
We all know Broady is a big game player – he’s proven that time and time again – and I think he could rise to the occasion here, and will live up to the added pressure caused by Anderson’s absence.
If the wicket has a bit of carry he can be absolutely devastating at Trent Bridge, and I’m going to back him to be England’s top first innings bowler at 3.75, and even the top one in the match at 5.50.
Batting-wise, Ian Bell showed just what a great player he is at Edgbaston, and given that he’s a confidence player I think he could go well again.
I remember his brilliant 159 against India at Trent Bridge four years ago, and when he’s in full flow here he can be incredible.
Similarly, I am just so, so impressed with Joe Root every time he walks to the crease right now.
When he came in at Edgbaston things could have been slightly nervy, but there was never any doubts with him there. His footwork was incredible, and he just helped us cruise to the finish line.
Root is 3.75 to be England’s top bat in the first innings, and Bell is 5.50.
It mustn’t be forgotten that Australia still have some world-class players, though, and they’ll be desperate to bounce back here.
Their bowlers never really made the most of the conditions in Birmingham, which was especially disappointing for Josh Hazlewood as I thought he’d be really dangerous when the ball was swinging, but the main man is still Mitchell Johnson of course.
He was thwarted at Edgbaston, but he never really had anything to bowl at. If Australia’s batsmen get their act together – and I think they’ll improve here – then Johnson could get back to battering ram best.
He’s their go-to man and is in a position where his country are counting on him. They need him to perform, and he’s 3.75 to be their top bowler in the first innings.
Overall, though, I’m going to back England to win again at 3.10, with the victory breaking this run of win-loss-win-loss and securing the Ashes.
Whatever happens, hopefully we’ll see another great game of cricket in what’s been a terrific series, and one that England can finish off here!
Read more from Unibet ambassador Graeme Swann