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Victor Chandler on the Ashes
9:40pm Thursday 8th August 2013 in Sport
England have retained the Ashes, but not without a scare with the stereotypical Manchester weather rescuing them at Old Trafford.
The series moves to the North-East today and celebrations, were as damp as the weather on Monday, are on hold until a series win is achieved.
England have an excellent record at the Emirates Durham ICG winning all four Tests played at the ground, including three by an innings, and Alistair Cook will be looking to maintain that sequence.
England are a shade of odds on at 10/11 with BetVictor to land the Test with Australia 3/1 and Baggy Greens' skipper Michael Clarke must aim to tie the series (12/1) and salvage some Australian pride.
The Aussies are bound to play aggressively but a little rain is forecast for Sunday and Monday and England might have one eye on another draw at 9/4.
I don't expect England, with the notable exception of Kevin Pietersen who can only play one way, to be making much of the running in Durham.
Joe Root scored an immaculate 180 at Lord's to bridge the gap on Ian Bell to just 139 runs in the race to be top Ashes batsman in the series.
Ian Bell remains 10/11 favourite with Root and Old Trafford centurion Kevin Pietersen both at 7/1. After Clarke's magnificent 187 in Manchester he is 62 runs shy and is 11/8 to finish the series with the most runs although that will be scant consolation for Pup although he will be looking ahead to the reverse fixtures Down Under starting in November.
It will be interesting to see if local boy Graham Onions replaces Tim Bresnan in the England attack.
The Durham pace bowler is 4/1 to be the top England bowler with Jimmy Anderson 7/4 and Graeme Swann 11/4. Jonathan Trott is not having a particularly good trot and is finding some strange ways to get out.
That said he is far too good a player for his form to desert him for too long and at 4/1 he is taken to come good and be the top England batsman in the first innings.