Australia have retained the urn as they lead 2-1 against England with the fifth test to be played at The Oval.
Steve Smith returned in the fourth test scoring a double century to sink the hopes of the English.
Not many would have given the visitors a chance to win the series, but Australia have managed to edge out the hosts. Had it not been for a Ben Stokes special in the third Test, the result would even have been 3-0 in their favour. With questions around this side’s quality, England will have to find answers from within. At the moment, though, it is Australia who are well-placed for another win.
Concerns for England start at the top and run all the way through. Barring Rory Burns (323 runs, Avg. 40.37) and Ben Stokes (354, Avg. 59), none of the batsmen have stood up to counter the Aussies. With the ball too, it is the pace duo of Stuart Broad (19 wickets) and Jofra Archer (16) that have papered over the lack of penetration elsewhere.
Questions will be asked of how Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, and Jos Buttler have struggled for runs and still kept their places. However, with the series on the line, captain Joe Root will hope for improved performances from his top-order batsmen.
The brilliance of Steve Smith (671 runs, Avg. 134.20, 3×100, 2×50) has overshadowed the lack of runs from other Australian batsmen. Marnus Labuschagne (291 runs) has been a sprightly addition too. With the ball, the precision and incision of Pat Cummins (24 wickets) and Josh Hazlewood (18) has led them through.
Although the urn is already retained, Australia wouldn’t want to be complacent considering the series is yet to be won. England are there for the taking, but Tim Paine knows that his side is not without its flaws. Better performances from the batsmen (other than Smith) is vital for the visitors. For England, it is a case of finding their saviours as another failed Ashes bid comes to a close. With not many players in form, the worry for England is that the SOS calls are falling on deaf ears.
- England have won six of their last 10 home Tests (W6, D1, L3).
- England have lost only 2 Oval Tests against Australia since 1975 (P12, W4, D6, L2).
- England have lost only 3 Tests at Oval since 2002 (P17, W9, D4, L4).
- England have not lost consecutive home Tests since 2008 against South Africa.
- Australia have lost five of their last nine Tests away from home (W2, D2, L5).
- Australia have lost eight of their last 15 Tests in England (W4, D3, L8).
- Australia’s highest first-wicket partnership in the series is 13.
So much has been said and written about Buttler, when he wheeled England with aggressive performances against India last summer. This series has been an eye-opener for him, as he looks to find a way out of his struggles.
Just 79 runs in eight innings, three successive ducks, and six dismissals to Stuart Broad in the series meant Warner is on thin ice ahead of this Test.
Australia can win the series outright 3-1.
Prediction: Australia to win ($2.04 TopBetta)