4th Ashes Test Preview: With the urn already gone, England's best chance is to go fearless
Joe Root and company have been no match for the spirited effort of the home side which has unleashed its A game.
Time to go hard
12 days, that's all. 12 days is all it took Australia to retain the Ashes and after an entire year of build up, England have two more Test matches to play -- a difficult period, having already lost the series fairly and squarely.
While England's prestige and respect is still on the line, it would serve the team well to take a different approach. Obviously, they can afford to be a little more fearless with the series having already been decided and the likes of Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler can be a bit more adventurous and play some shots rather than just trying to spend time at the crease without the scoreboard ticking over.
No scope of experimentation with Wood, Robinson and Anderson
In the pace bowling department, England do not have many players on the bench to experiment with. One does not think that Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes or Craig Overton, who missed out in the last Test match, can have any big impact in Sydney and hence, the team should carry on with Mark Wood, Ollie Robinson and James Anderson.
Anderson, in particular, reiterated in the last Test that he is still as good as any one in international cricket in exploiting whatever is on offer and can keep the ball on a string.
What about Dom Bess?
What they can do though is to replace Jack Leach with Dom Bess. That not only gives them some extra batting but also allows Bess to regain his confidence, especially after having performed well for England Lions recently.
Bess is by far a better batter than Jack Leach as well and can contribute some runs at number 8.
Australia have a quite settled XI going into the match although Scott Boland who picked up a six wicket haul on debut will probably have to miss out -- a great indication of the intense competition for spots in the Australian XI.
Khawaja, Marsh compete for Head's spot
Travis Head has been tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the test match. The obvious replacement for him is the experienced Usman Khawaja, but having already won the series, Australia can be a bit more left field.
They can choose to go in with Mitchell Marsh who has been in red-hot form of late. The team can go with 2 pace bowlers, preferably Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc and two all rounders in Cameron Green and Mitchell Marsh.
A left-field choice
This will then give them an opportunity to include leg spinner Mitchell Swepson, who is expected to play a major role as Australia gear up for a Test jaunt in Asia. This will not only help blood-in Swepson in Test cricket but also play alongside Nathan Lyon and gain invaluable experience and exposure.
However, that seems unlikely as Australia will not want to keep any stone unturned to make it 5-0. In that case, the race will be between Scott Boland and Josh Hazlewood and the team is likely to reward Hazlewood for his contributions over the years.
Predicted playing XIs
Australia - David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Usman Khawaja, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins (c), Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon
England - Zak Crawley, Haseeb Hameed, Dawid Malan, Joe Root (c), Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler (wk), Ollie Robinson, Mark Wood, James Anderson, Jack Leach/Dom Bess
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