After the sheer bloody disappointment of the 4th test final day washout in Manchester, that confirmed Australia’s retention of the urn, the Ashes now travels back to London, for the final test at the Oval. England still have pride and the chance to square the series to play for, so there is still a lot on the line. We have previewed the test and given you our best bets.
How annoying is cricket??
Having completely dominated the opening three days and with the series equalling win in sight, England (13/10) found themselves unable to get back on the field, due to the revolting Manchester weather.
Just over two hours in total were playable on the final two days and the hosts were only able to pick up one wicket of the six they required for victory.
That victim was Marnus Labuschagne, who had earlier put England’s spinners to the sword, after Mark Wood was unable to bowl due to bad light.
Earlier in the match Chris Woakes had taken 5-fer as Australia(8/5) had ended their first innings on 317, way short of what looked like par.
Just how badly below par it was, was soon evident, as Zak Crawley finally lived up to his potential, with a brilliant 189 off just 182 balls.
Questions will be asked about Ben Stokes late declaration and whether he should have inserted the tourists after lunch on Day 3. Instead England batted on and battered Australia into submission , with Jonny Bairstow bludgeoning a brutal 99*.
With the state of the Old Trafford forecast, it appeared unwise at the time but it was probably irrelevant given just how little play was possible over the weekend.
The Ashes remain in Australian hands but they have won it under a literal cloud and there have been huge discussions about the future of the longer form game moving forward.
Cricket is the most brilliant of sports, yet ultimately one of the most frustrating at times, due to tradition and the weather.
On we move to the Oval and make no mistake, Ben Stokes & Co. will be absolutely desperate to continue the onslaught and square the series.
For Australia, it’s a chance for a first series win outright in England since 2001.
England’s squad is unchanged for the 5th Test, having been clearly the better team at Old Trafford. Has Jimmy Anderson played his last test or will he be given one final send off?
Australia have a couple of injury issues involving the Mitchell’s, Starc and Marsh.
Mitch Marsh spent a fair bit of time off the field at Old Trafford and is said to be ‘a little sore’, which could give a look in for Todd Murphy to be recalled.
Starc, meanwhile, suffered a shoulder injury while diving in the field and though he continued to bowl, could be rested for Michael Neser, given the ashes have already been retained.
Australia XI (probable):
Pat Cummins (captain), Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Todd Murphy, Michael Neser, Steve Smith (vice-captain), David Warner.
Match Result – Draw – 11/4
Unfortunately the forecast for Thursday onwards isn’t great again.
There is rain forecast on every single day and whilst it should be a little better than Old Trafford, it’s still not ideal.
With this in mind I’m taking the draw in the hope the price will come in and I’ll be able to lay it off at a shorter price midway through the game.
If the game is played to a result, I can only see England winning.
Marnus Labuschagne Top Aus batter (1st Inns) – 18/5
The South African born batter has been threatening to do what he did in Manchester without fruition. Continually getting starts before succumbing to a daft shot or a superb bit of bowling.
However, he finally clicked into gear in the second innings, when under the utmost pressure and looked superb in his match saving 111.
Labushagne started his test career like a house on fire and though he has struggled of late, he is clearly a class act.
With the Ashes retained and a century under his belt, expect more of the same from the 29-year-old.
Chris Woakes Top Eng Wicket Taker (1st Inns) – 16/5
What could have been if Chris Woakes had been fully fit for the Lord’s test!?
The Warwickshire all-rounder has been a revelation since he came back into the side and has shown just how skilled a performer he is on English wickets.
The 34-year-old averages 22 on home soil and 51 on his travels, displaying just what a different prospect he is with the swinging Dukes ball.
Woakes has 12 wickets at under 20 in just two test matches and I expect him to be in the wickets again at the Oval.