It's been a great start to the Ashes third test for England, and it's the perfect time to look at the in-play bets you could place on this ever-changing match at Edgbaston.
Bell Back in Form
Ian Bell, the England team's oldest and most-experienced batsman, looked to be on his way out of the side after Australia's crushing second-test victory at Lord's. In the first innings, it was like watching Bell ten years ago. The batsman took a half-century and looked totally self-assured, before throwing his wicket away in cheap fashion. What does that tell us?
Edgbaston isn't a more batsman-friendly wicket than Lord's - don't forget the massive totals Australia racked up in the second test - but different pitches will suit teams more than others. On tours, the visiting side will usually find that the home groundsman prepares a surface that suits the qualities of the host team. Of course, this is not said explicitly these days - but it's perfectly within the laws of the game for a coach to discuss with a groundsman what kind of team might take to the field.
That Lord's pitch, fast and not particularly good for exponents of swing, suited Australia's selection better than that of England, as Darren Lehmann and his selectors had packed the team full of pacy bowlers who would thump the ball into the turf. It wasn't subtle, but it was productive for the tourists, and was a reason for victory.
Edgbaston seems to be more of a mixed wicket; balls are not travelling as fast off the surface, batsmen have perhaps an extra fraction of a second to anticipate what might happen, and as a consequence, England's batsmen have been able to pick up some confidence, and none of Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson or Mitchell Marsh have taken a wicket, even though they profited last time out.
To add to this, it's Bell's home ground. It's in a professional sportsman's nature to always back his ability, so it's not necessarily true that the elevation to number three has made a difference to Bell's batting. Rather more important has been playing on home territory; Bell's county is Warwickshire, and he has played home games at Edgbaston throughout his career. When you're comfortable, it takes questions out of the equation, and makes it easier to play.
What Might Change?
The rain has helped England - again, Australia's big bowlers have found it tough to generate pace on a moist turf with their rhythm interrupted by delays. Australia's batting suffered on the first day, but it's unlikely we will see a repeat of the 136 all-out scoreline in the second innings. That said, if it continues to rain overnight, James Anderson will have another wicket that compliments perfectly his game, so he could yet add to his six wickets from the first day.
Ian Bell 9/2 with Betway to be top England batsman in the match
Nathan Lyon 13/8 with Betway to be top Australia bowler