I always said Australia were fighters, and so it has proved.
England were given a wake-up call at Old Trafford in the 3rd Test, and must now look to score a few more runs collectively in the upcoming 4th encounter at Chester-le-Street starting this Friday.
A lot will depend on the form of our top order batsmen, some of whom have been struggling to find a rhythm. We certainly need to get a big score on the board to take some of the pressure off of our bowling attack - but I am confident Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott are going to come good this time around.
Australia were a little unlucky with the weather in the third test, but it was kind of to be expected in Manchester and sometimes you just can’t escape the rain. I was impressed with the way the tourists played before the weather turned.
While I'm talking about weather, I must say I was disappointed that the players were called off the pitch prematurely on Sunday. The lights were on, so they should have continued to play. Sometimes I worry that cricket is living in the dark ages - it is a sport very much in the entertainment industry at the end of the day and the fans deserved better.
Anyway, if the 3rd test proved anything then it's that the Aussies have two fantastic bowlers in Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle, who are world class. It didn’t surprise me that Australia produced the kind of performance we saw - when they click they are still a threat.
Captain Michael Clarke played really well at Old Trafford and Steve Smith is growing into his role. There’s a sense that Australia will only get better, which is not great news for England looking towards the next series down under at the end of the year. Overall, it was a much improved display by Australia – and it will have ruffled England's feathers. Cook and co will know that despite having clinched the Ashes already, the rest of the series won’t be easy.
Australia need Harris in Durham this week. There will always be question marks over his fitness because of the injuries he’s had over the years: knees, hips, ankles – he’s had them all. He’s a hustler and a bustler and he’ll always be prone to picking up little problems, but he's also one hell of a talent. If Australia can turn him around in a few days and get him fit for the fourth test it will be a huge bonus for them. If he’s not playing, it will be a massive disappointment.
But regardless of the team Australia put out, I think England have had their hiccup - I'm backing them to bounce back and win. You have to expect England to win every game against Australia these days. There’s been some rain on the pitch already, so maybe that will help the prep, but now we need sun!
I’m backing Trott to be the top 1st innings runscorer in the next test (available at 5.00). He’s overdue a big score and a player of his quality is bound to come good again soon. For Australia, you can’t look beyond Michael Clarke as the top batsman (available at 3.75). I can see him making another century because when he gets on a roll, he's as good as anyone. His record over the last two years is probably the most impressive in world cricket.
If Graham Onions plays, I’ll back him to take the most wickets on his home ground (available at 5.00). If not, then I’ll go with Anderson. For Australia, I fancy Siddle to do well on the Chester-le-Street pitch – it should suit his style so back him at 3.75.
In terms of man of the match, I’ll go with a rejuvenated Trott (available at odds of 14.00). I think it’s his moment, and don't be surprised if he steels the show by posting a double century!
Sir Ian Botham is a Unibet Armchair Ambassador and will be writing here exclusively throughout the Ashes series and across Unibet's Summer of Sport.
The fourth test starts at Chester-le-Street on Friday - bet on it with Unibet.