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England's failure to enforce follow on is a lame decision.

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England's failure to enforce follow on is a lame decision.

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England will need to be more ruthless against Australia

The baffling decision by the England think tank not to enforce the follow on when New Zealand were at their mercy could well have come back to bite them in the ass today with rain predicted to prolong the start of play.

England will need to be more ruthless against Australia

The baffling decision by the England think tank not to enforce the follow on when New Zealand were at their mercy could well have come back to bite them in the ass today with rain predicted to prolong the start of play.

As it was England carried on where they left off taking wickets at regular intervals when play did eventually get going but against Australia this sort of blue sky thinking will get nowt for substance or style.

England had their foot on the throat and inexplicably let them get back up off the floor to continue the uneven fight. If England's management was so sure that New Zealand would be roundly beaten or indeed that England were so good that they could not be caught then a lesson in humility is surely going to be dished out by the Aussies.

The only people thankful for England's generosity were those that had got their money on the draw - for the only realistic chance of that result happening would be for the weather to intervene today.

Ian Botham was suitably unimpressed with the decision but he made enough rickets in his career as Somerset captain to be the one casting doubts over the merits rightly or wrongly of giving the England batsmen extra batting practice before the Aussies pitch up in town.

The likelihood is that England will still win this series 2-0 but even at an early lunch and with New Zealand down to their last two wickets persistent rain could leave them with egg on their faces.

You could argue that the series is already won with New Zealand only able to claim an unlikely draw from the two match series but you can bet Australia – and for that matter nearly every other test playing cricket side – that they will not be so generous given the same decision to be made.

For all that – Alastair Cook oozes batting class doesn't he and a sneaky bet on him to be the series top scorer against Australia, Paddy Power and Bet365 are the only two bookies to open books on this market so far and at 11/4 cook to be England top batsman looks a good bet.

Alastair Cook to be top run getter for England in the Ashes five match series. £10 returns £37.50

Paddy Power have the best book for the Ashes series at the time of writing.

Read my Paddy Power review to see why I rate this bookmaker so highly.

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