Preview - Fourth Ashes Test, Chester-le-Street
We preview the fourth Ashes Test between England and Australia, which gets underway at 11:00 BST (10:00 GMT) on Friday 9th August.
Both teams will be pleased to get on the field and let their cricket do the talking after much of the time between the drawn Test at Old Trafford has been spent discussing Hot Spot, the Decision Review System and allegations of cheating.
Those allegations have been dismissed by both sides and after a constructive meeting with the International Cricket Council to discuss the review system, confidence has hopefully been restored and we can look forward to a good, fair contest.
We were treated to a fine contest at Old Trafford which was largely dominated by Australia, who will be expecting to continue where they left off while England are aware they need to improve their level of performance.
While they were good enough at Trent Bridge and outstanding at Lord's, they dipped at Old Trafford and were almost caught out by a vastly improved Australia.
Former Durham and England batsman Graeme Fowler thinks that the match represents Australia's best chance of victory and it is not hard to see why. Any momentum lies with them and The Oval is more likely to suit England's attack than it is Australia's.
As for the teams, Australia have named a 12-man squad with fast bowler Jackson Bird replacing Ashton Agar and should Ryan Harris not pull up fully fit, he can expect his first Ashes start.
Durham's prolific seamer Graham Onions would dearly love to play an Ashes Test at his home ground but unless any of their bowlers are carrying niggles, England will be loathe to change their attack, which has done little wrong throughout the series.
The story so far
1st Test: England 215 & 375 beat Australia 280 & 296 by 14 runs
2nd Test: England 361 & 349-7 declared beat Australia 128 & 238 by 347 runs
3rd Test: Australia 527-7 declared & 172-7 declared drew with England 368 & 39-3
bet365 make England the even-money favourites to win the match with Australia 11/4 and the draw is available at 5/2.
The weather forecast for the match is reasonably good but there is a small chance that rain may play its part. Temperatures are expected to peak at 20 degrees centigrade on the opening day while day two is expected to be overcast. Day three should be brighter before the threat of rain increases on days four and five.
The stats - courtesy of Opta
England have won all four of their Tests at Emirates Durham International Cricket Ground – three of these victories have been by an innings.
Australia have never played a Test match at the venue, however they have completed four ODIs there, losing to England in their last two visits (winning the other two v England and Bangladesh).
England have now lost just one of their last 10 Test series at home – their 2-0 defeat against South Africa last summer.
James Anderson has taken 15 wickets in two Tests at Durham ICG at an average of 14, his best average at any venue.
Anderson (322) needs four wickets to overtake Bob Willis (325) as England’s second highest Test wicket taker.
Kevin Pietersen’s batting average of 25.7 at Durham ICG is his lowest at any of the nine home venues he has played at.
Pietersen’s 64 at Trent Bridge is his only 50 in his last 15 second innings of Tests.
Pietersen (7,705) needs 24 runs to overtake Michael Atherton (7,728) as England’s fifth highest Test run scorer. Alastair Cook (7,669) needs 60 runs to pass Atherton.
Alastair Cook scored 766 runs in the 2010/11 Ashes at an average of 127.7. In his 13 other Ashes Tests he has scored 643 runs at an average of 25.7.
Peter Siddle took his 50th Ashes wicket at Emirates Old Trafford. He dismissed Matt Prior and Kevin Pietersen for the eighth and seventh times respectively in that match, his most regular Test victims.
87.5% of Shane Watson’s Test deliveries this year have been dots, the highest percentage of any bowler. 31 of his 61 overs have been maidens.
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