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Australia in sight of Ashes retention already?

Ashes to Ashes, tons to tons: Steven Smith indicates the trajectory of his Ashes so far Getty Images

Has the Ashes urn been prised from England's fingers already? If the doom-mongers at Bet365 are anything to go by, it's all over Red Rover and Goodnight Vienna.

Another poor day at the office for England at Lord's has left them in peril in the second Test, although the prospect of bad weather does at least give them a get-out - the draw is currently a 4/6 favourite, ahead of Australia at 11/4 and England a distant 4/1.

However, the longer-term prospects look as bleak as the weekend weather forecast. Australia are already 1/2 to end their 18-year wait for an Ashes win on English soil - the combination of England's fragile batting, Australia's snorting armoury of "cherry-ripe" fast bowlers, and the stand-out talents of Nathan Lyon in the spin stakes and Steve Smith with the bat is hard to overlook.

England, meanwhile, are 10/3 to defend that home record - 1-0 down already, and unlikely to engineer a win here, they will need to win at least two of the next three Tests to reclaim the Ashes that they lost 4-0 in Australia 18 months ago. The drawn series is another option at 5/1, but that of course wouldn't change the destination of the urn.

In fact, there is a market for when the Ashes will be retained. 5/1 says it'll happen when Australia take an unassailable lead at Headingley next week… 5/2 reckons the moment will be deferred until Old Trafford. And in an unlikely nod to England's hopes of saying competitive, 11/8 says that Australia won't wrap things up until the fifth Test at The Oval next month. We shall see.