Preamble

Good morning everybody and welcome to day four of the first Ashes Test from Edgbaston. This contest is beautifully poised with Australia resuming their second innings leading by 34 runs with seven wickets in hand.

WinViz suggests England have a 67% chance of victory, Australia just 23%, but I wonder if that takes into account the necessary Steve Smith loading. The Australian superstar will once again be at the crease when play resumes and England’s bowlers seem bereft of ideas for how to prevent him remaining there indefinitely.

With the pitch offering diminishing returns for the seamers and the Dukes ball failing to swing there will be enormous pressure on the shoulders of Moeen Ali to spin England to the brink of victory this morning. Should Australia bat on much beyond lunch the nerves around Edgbaston will be jangling loudly. A target in excess of 150 will be tricky to chase against an Australian attack containing Nathan Lyon on a surface offering plenty to the off-spinner.

The opening couple of hours today look set to shape the remainder of the series. It’s going to be gripping.




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