Disappointment for England as they Line Up for the 5th Ashes Test Game

Australia's celebrate the wicket of England's Craig Overton to win the match and retain
Australia's celebrate the wicket of England's Craig Overton to win the match and retain
©Ashes Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine
 

The fourth game of this year's Ashes at Old Trafford was as thrilling as ever, but an Australian victory means that the Aussies are now certain of retaining the Ashes. The disappointment will be brutal for the British, who enjoyed such a spectacular comeback in the Third Test Game to equal the overall score and gather momentum before the final two games. 

Yet although the Aussies are certain to win the Ashes (as the holders, they will retain it with an overall draw), England still have an unbeaten home record since 2001 to play for. And with The Oval as the iconic setting, we should be in for a thrilling few days of cricket.

Overview of the competition

The Ashes is a historically close competition and before this year's series, Australia lead England by 33 series to 32 draws. Things had been levelled up prior to the 2017-2018 Ashes, but a 4-0 win for the Aussies in the five-match series ensured that they took the overall lead. This year's Ashes was therefore a chance to equal the historical record once again for the English.

 That has failed to happen for the home Team, and the Aussies are now certain to retain the trophy. In the First Test, Australia won by 251 runs after a spectacular performance from leading batsman Steve Smith as he scored a century in each inning, a performance that also awarded him as the Player of the Match.

 In the Second Test, the pressure was all on England, who were desperate to avoid a 0-2 deficit on home ground. Played at the grand-old Lord's Cricket Ground in London, Australia just about held on in a dramatic thriller that also involved the first-ever concussion protocol substitution in a cricket game, as Steve Smith was replaced on Day 5 by Marnus Labuschagne.

With Australia leading 1-0 and three test games still to go, the Third Test was played at Headingley in Leeds. Things were looking gloomy for England up until the very end, but a sensational performance from Ben Stokes allowed them to overturn the deficit and win the game by 1 cricket. This was in fact England's highest successful run chase in the history of test cricket games.

The Fourth Test was set at Old Trafford in Manchester, with the overall score evened at 1. Australia secured another victory and thus retained the Ashes. Steve Smith was once again the Player of the Match. The result spelled a lot of frustration in the British sports press, especially after the sudden momentum that had appeared with the sensational turnaround in the third test. The 5th will definitely be a good game to bet on. And if you are not familiar with this sports, cricket bettin­­g is explained here.

 Overlook:

  • First Test: Australia Won by 251 Runs
  • Second Test: Draw
  • Third Test: England Won by 1 Wicket
  • Fourth Test: Australia Won by 185 Runs
  • Current Score: Australia 2 - 1 England (Australia retains the Ashes).

 

Overview of the Australian Team

Team: Tim Paine, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Peter Siddle, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner. 

Things have been going so well for the Aussies that there are hardly any issues to highlight. However, one could say that Steve Smith's incredible performances have somehow papered over some of the other batsmen. Usman Khawaja and Cameron Bancroft have been dropped while David Warner has struggled. There are other important test games coming up for Australia, so with less to play for in the fifth test game than usual, the Aussie coaching team is probably considering mixing things up a bit.

Yet winning will still be imperative and although David Warner could be replaced at the top, Steve Smith will still be looking to turn this series into his own. It arguably is already, but another stellar performance in game 5 could turn his performance historical. He would not want Ben Stokes running away with all the headlines - although that has happened already, at least to a certain extent.

England have been poor in many aspects but credit should also be given to the quality of bowling from Pat Cummins, who has delivered a memorable series together with Josh Hazlewood. Reports have suggested Cummins could be rested, but after all, Australia have a poor record at The Oval and would probably like to walk away with a win.

 

Overview of the English Team

Team: Joe Root, Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes. 

It is difficult for the English to argue that they have gotten any less than they deserved; Australia have been the better team throughout and utterly deserve to retain the Ashes. Had it not been for a heroic Ben Stokes performance in the third game, things could easily have been decided at that point with a 3-0 lead for Australia. For now, however, the English need to regroup and look at the positives in their squad ahead of the final game.

Yet injuries have continued to plague the English team - Mark Wood, Olly Anderson and James Anderson's absences have weakened the bowling attack severely, and Ben Stokes potentially missing the fifth game is just another worry to add to the list. He has been the standout performer so far.

Coach Trevor Bayliss has named an unchanged squad from the defeat at Old Trafford, and players such as Jason Roy and Jos Buttler are therefore facing an incredibly important game in their Test Match careers. There are other series coming up in the near future, and this might be their last chance to properly impress coach Bayliss. Without further improvements, he is expected to axe parts of his failing squad.

 

What to expect of the 5th test?

 It has once again been an incredible Ashes series between England and Australia, and the fifth game should be another thriller although the Aussies are certain to retain the Ashes. Australia are currently narrow favourites to win the Test Game at 21/20 with Unibet, whereas England are 6/4 with William Hill to repeat their triumph from the first game.

 You could the raise the question of motivation - how dedicated will the Aussies really be to win when they have already secured the Ashes - but that is rarely applicable at this level of elite sport. Winning this game will be the cherry on top, and a victory on points in England would be a convincing result that people will remember for decades.

 The two standout players for Australia have been batsmen Steven Smith and Marnus Labuschagne. The bookies have clearly paid attention to Smith's fabulous performances, as he is currently 3/2 with Betfair to be the best batter in the First Inning. Labuschagne is 8/1 with Betfair, while home-favourite Ben Stokes is traded as highly as 10/1 with William Hill. Stokes could be worth a cheeky punt, but the injury could very well make things complicated for him.

 Whatever happens over the weekend it has once again been an incredible Ashes, and Ben Stokes has already become the stuff of popular folklore. Nor will anyone forget the incredible batting of Steve Smith in the near future. The final Test Game starts around midday on Thursday September 12th.