The Ashes is now well and truly in England’s favour. As such, the final Test at The Oval is now merely of academic importance. However, there is still a lot to play for the two teams in question. Hosts England would be aiming to make the final scoreline 4-0. England must be hungry to end the series on a high for over the last two decades they have been embarrassed badly by the Aussies time and again. Australia, on the other hand, would like to restore some pride, and have at least have one victory to their name in the otherwise disappointing series.
For England, they might give their youngsters a chance to get a feel of the big stage. They have made a few changes, calling up left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan and medium-pacer Chris Woakes into the squad. The tall fast bowler Chris Tremlett has also been recalled following his long battle with injury. Tremlett is now 31, and hence he might not get many more opportunities to revive his international career. One is not sure if all of the new faces in the squad will make it to the eleven, but whoever does should try and make the best use of the chance.
There are a few England players who should also look to get themselves back into form. Alastair Cook more than anyone else in the team has been a disappointment. Apart from a few half-centuries, he has nothing to show for the series. His failures have been dwarfed only because England have been so good overall. Cook would like to leave his stamp on the major series with a trademark long innings. Now that the series is in England’s hands, there wouldn’t be much pressure on Cook, and it might just work in his favour.
Jonathan Trott is another batsman who hasn’t lived up to his billing. Like Cook, Trott also have got a few starts, but hasn’t been able to convert any of those knocks into big scores. England have been very lucky to have Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen in the side, who have rescued the hosts from a precarious situation in almost every Test. Very rarely in a series has it happened that a side has lost their first three wickets cheaply and yet have managed to post big scores.
In contrast, Australia have faltered in spite of getting a few big starts, because their middle and top order hasn’t been among the runs. With the bat, opener Chris Rogers has been the only consistent force in the team. The seniors like skipper Michael Clarke and Shane Watson have been below part, and the rest just haven’t had the talent to stand up to the England challenge. As for their performance with the ball, Ryan Harris has been excellent and Peter Siddle has been top notch, but the duo has got little support from the rest, which has allowed England to escape from trouble on numerous occasions. The only way Australia can challenge England at The Oval is if both their batting and bowling falls into place.
--By A Cricket Analyst