The final match of the international summer takes place on Wednesday as England and Australia do battle in their ODI series decider at Old Trafford - Richard Mann has three bets picked out.
The international summer that might never have been will conclude on Wednesday as arch enemies England and Australia renew hostilities in the deciding match of their three-match ODI series in Manchester.
Quite how the series is still alive takes some believing after Australia lost eight wickets for 63 runs to surrender a seemingly unassailable match-winning position in Sunday's second match, somehow allowing England back into a series that had appeared lost until Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer - aided by some excellent captaincy from Eoin Morgan - turned the contest on its head.
Perhaps it is fitting that the efforts of the various cricket boards, and the sacrifices made by its players, will be rewarded with an eagerly-anticipated finale that promises a blockbuster finish like a few we have seen these two sides produce already this summer.
Having lost the earlier T20I series following another horrific batting collapse in the opening game, Australia will rightly be kicking themselves that they face the prospect of leaving these shores empty handed despite dominating much of the ODI series as well.
While some key absences - particularly in the T20I series - have hurt England, it is hard to argue that the tourists haven't been the better side across the last few weeks with their razor-sharp fielding consistently putting England's own laboured efforts in the shade while their excellent bowling attack and generally well-rounded batting has more than matched their opponents.
That said, with the bat at least, Australia remain fallible against spin and have shown enough weakness under pressure when chasing to put me off loading up at 11/10, for all I think they should probably be favourites here.
It's worth remembering that without the batting heroics of Tom Curran or Adil Rashid, England might not have even made a game of it on Sunday while winning the toss and being afforded the opportunity to bowl last on a tired, wearing Old Trafford wicket was a big advantage for the home side.
With more of the same expected at the same venue on Wednesday, the toss could once again prove crucial, though Australia would certainly help themselves if finding room in their starting XI for Ashton Agar, whose excellent all-round skills saw him finish the T20I series as Australia's leading wicket-taker as well as make some very handy contributions with the bat.
Another surface that offers assistance to the spinners will certainly bring Agar into the selection mix - possibly at number seven - and should he get the nod, he could be worth a small bet at 25/1 for Man of the Match honours given his ability to impact the game with bat and ball.
With money back should Agar again have to sit on the sidelines, a bet to small stakes looks worth an investment, but I'll be upping the ante on Marnus Labuschagne for top Australia batsman at 5/1.
Labuschagne is a top-class operator who burst onto the scene in last year's Ashes and hasn't looked back since, pushing his batting average in Test cricket to well in excess of 60 while his ODI numbers are similarly impressive: 374 runs in nine matches at an average of 46.75.
Having made a brilliant 108 in South Africa in this form of the game in March, Labuschagne has started this series with scores of 21 and 48 and I thought he looked in really good touch against pace and spin on Sunday until he was dismissed lbw on review.
Knowing his penchant for going big once set, a sizeable contribution from Labuschagne looks just around the corner and given the doubts surrounding David Warner's form and Steve Smith's fitness following a blow to the head in training that forced him to miss the last two games, the former Glamorgan man makes plenty of appeal at 11/2.
Aaron Finch rates the obvious danger given how well he has played on this tour so far, but as ever, he will face a stern examination from Archer and Woakes up front and Labuschagne might just find the going that little bit easier when he comes in at number three of four.
As already alluded to, I've not been overly impressed with England's white-ball form so far this summer and with Jason Roy still finding his way since returning from injury, and Yorkshire pair Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root both looking a little short of their best, I'm not about to turn down the 11/2 on offer about Jos Buttler in England's top batsman market.
A couple of low scores in the series so far don't detract from the fact that Buttler has enjoyed one of the most successful periods of his career over the last few months, his place at the heart of England's Test team now firmly secure following his Man of the Series performance against Pakistan and scores of 44 and 77* in the aforementioned T20I series against Australia confirming he remains in excellent touch.
England's greatest ever white-ball batsman, Buttler boasts a typically strong record against Australia in this form of the game - 930 runs at an average of 42.27 - and he is worth backing to enhance those already impressive numbers and finish one of the most significant summers of his career in fine style.
Posted at 1245 BST on 15/09/20
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