England v Australia, 5th Test: Preview
by Andy Jalil

Ground:Kennington Oval, Kennington
Scorecard:England v Australia
Event:Australia in England and Ireland 2015

DateLine: 20th August 2015


By Andy Jalil at Trent Bridge
In association with INVESTEC


Andy Jalil - Cricket Writer and Commentator
Andy Jalil at Kia Oval
In association with INVESTEC


England unchanged for fifth Test, Australia make two changes


With the Ashes regained by England in such an impressive manner with comfortable victories in three Tests, the pressure will be on Australia for a facing-saving win in the final Test. Since their win at Lord’s in the second Test they have been totally outplayed by a team that has proved to be superior in this series. It is the first time since 1896 that England have won four consecutive Ashes series at home.


Australia captain Michael Clarke, who retires at the end of the series as his country’s fourth highest Test runs scorer, will no doubt be hoping to depart with a win in his last Test match after a series which has seen him struggle for form, averaging just 16.7 and seeing his side suffer the ignominy of losing two of the Tests inside three days. The series also sees the end of opening batsman Chris Rogers’ Test career who retires at the age of 38. This will be his 25th Test and he has an aggregate of 1972 Test runs with an average of 43.63 prior to the previous Test.


Clarke said: "I'm preparing like I would for any other Test match. It doesn't feel any different and it won't until it finishes. The focus has been on preparing for this Test and making sure my body and my mind are ready as usual. I'm looking forward to hopefully finishing on a high. We really need to show that grit and determination throughout the Test match and play a lot better than we did in the last couple."


Asked about the criticism that has come his way, he said: "I haven't read too much. I've tried to avoid the media since arriving in the UK and I've tried to stay consistent in that so I've not read too much criticism or positive things.”


Australia’s record at the Oval has not been encouraging having won only one of their last eleven Tests and that was in 2001. They have lost four and drawn the remainder. However, the hard, fast pitch at the Oval should suit the Aussies a lot more. It is not expected to have excessive seam movement which has greatly troubled their batsmen particularly from the bowling of James Anderson – his injury keeps him out of the fifth Test – and Stuart Broad who had the most remarkable figures of 8 for 15 in the first innings of the last Test.


Despite their excellent performance, England have a long way to go to reach No1 spot in Test rankings but this series has shown that there is enough talent in this young team to take them to the top. Among the bowlers it wasn’t just Anderson and Broad who caused problems for the opposition but Steve Finn and Mark Wood too made a mark. And Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes showed their all-round ability.


In Joe Root, England now have the world No1 ranked batsman and he seems good enough to stay there with good technique and a great temperament. A lot of credit must also go to the England captain Alastair Cook. His team has been criticised earlier in the summer but his return to form has coincided with a positive approach to captaincy and has proved his critic wrong with his leadership.


While the England team remains unchanged from the previous Test, Australia will be resting pace bowler Josh Hazelwood who has had a heavy workload according to the coach Darren Lehman.


Hazelwood has taken 16 wickets in the series at an impressive average of 25. 75. He is expected to be replaced by Peter Siddle or Pat Cummins who has been out of Test cricket owing to injuries since his only Test in South Africa four years ago. Mitch Marsh is also likely to replace his brother Sean who had scores of 0 and 2 in his only Test in the series.


(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2015 Andy Jalil)


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