Following a dominant performance by England in the fourth Test at Old Trafford, which ended in a rain-marred draw, the Australian squad is determined to avoid a repeat of their 2019 campaign, where England managed to level the series 2-2 with a win at The Oval.
Australia batsman Travis Head expressed the team’s mindset, stating, “The feeling around it was yes, we have got away with one, but ultimately we have come here to win the Ashes and we have gone a huge way to doing that.”
Head also drew comparisons with the 2019 series but emphasised that this time, winning the Ashes holds greater significance for the team, rather than simply retaining the trophy.
For the upcoming match, Australia may consider recalling specialist spinner Todd Murphy, who was omitted from the attack that conceded 592 runs at Old Trafford, including Zak Crawley’s brilliant 189. It was only a few months ago that off-spinner Nathan Lyon, now injured, played a pivotal role in Australia’s victory at The Oval during the World Test Championship final against India.
In terms of injuries, all-rounder Mitchell Marsh is dealing with “soreness,” and fast bowler Mitchell Starc has a shoulder problem, potentially opening the door for Michael Neser to make his first appearance of the series after a successful stint with Glamorgan in the English County Championship.
On the other hand, England face a dilemma regarding the selection of veteran seamer James Anderson, who is currently third on the all-time list of Test wicket-takers with 689 scalps. Anderson’s performance in this series has been below par, taking just four wickets in three Tests at an expensive average of 76.75.
England’s aggressive ‘Bazball’ approach, adopted since the partnership of captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum, has brought them 12 wins in 17 Tests. However, some have criticised England’s self-proclaimed mission to “save” Test cricket, arguing that their emphasis on entertainment sometimes overshadows the importance of winning.
Regardless of the outcome, the current England team under Stokes’ leadership is aiming to leave a lasting legacy in Test cricket.
(With inputs from AFP)