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The Ashes: England vs Australia 4th Test Preview

Written by Maverick White for @HollywoodbetsFollow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!


Australia vs England | Thursday 26 December | MCG, Melbourne | 01:30

ashes4thtestintroOh, how the mighty have fallen. England’s cricketing fortress, built by stubborn adherence to pragmatic strategies and iron-clad will, has been reduced to rubble. Jaded, defeated and deserted, these are dark times for England. Being on the receiving end of such a mauling is a tough space to reside. Players, management and staff all come under fire, sackings and retirements often the result. Only fragments of a once intimidating side remain. However, the phase to rebuild need not be lengthy. It just should not have come in the middle of an already lost series.

ashes4thtest2To Win
Australia 7/10
Draw 28/10
England 7/2

Australia
If all goes to plan in terms of recovery, Boxing Day in Melbourne should see the first unchanged XI in four consecutive Tests for Australia since 2004. Considering South Africa’s mantra of consistency in selection, and their subsequent ranking as the best Test side in the world, this can only bode well for the future of Australian cricket. They seem to have emerged from the own dark period, a tough and resilient side that is thriving on the new-found stability. Michael Clarke has been quick to congratulate many of the players, but he reserved special praise for Shane Watson. Playing with his own natural freedom in the second innings in Perth, he boosted the run-rate with 103 from 108 balls, putting Australia in a good position for the declaration. Clarke feels Watson is now playing with a greater responsibility and putting the team first. A philosophy that is important to Clarke, it has shown throughout this series in everything the Australian side has achieved. Fighting back from collapse, aggressive and disciplined with the ball, hungry in the field and composed in execution, their regaining of the urn is well deserved.

England
ashes4thtest1The English are in ruins. Jonathan Trott returned home from the first Test, mentally ill from raw pace and extreme stress. Now Graeme Swann has hung up his boots in the middle of the series. The look on Alastair Cook’s face after he received a peach from Ryan Harris to send him packing for a royal duck in the final innings in Perth spoke volumes. It spoke of utter defeat, and horror at its acceptance. This will be a difficult time for Cook and for coach Andy Flower. With England already in the process of changes in management, something that was already in motion prior to this Ashes series, it is unlikely either will be sacked. But they will have to win back their credibility while mending two important holes, one at number three and another in the role of the leading spinner. Panesar is likely to play for Swann, while Root will continue at three for the remainder of the Ashes. Both will need to reassessed post-Ashes, while they attempt to stem the bleeding elsewhere. Prior is in horrible form, as are the openers, Pietersen conspires to get himself out and the strike bowlers are exhausted; Broad may miss out due to injury. I can’t see any way out for England.

Venue
It’s another drop-in pitch at the MCG, and as such it is difficult to know what to expect from it. It’s will definitely be great for batting for the opening few days, but the wear is unpredictable thereafter. There’s also a good chance it will seam a bit more than the other pitches so far, so full deliveries on and around off stump should prove troublesome. There is no rain predicted.

BEST: Top Australian First Innings Bowler, Ryan Harris 26/10
With the promise of seam movement in Melbourne, and with accuracy and a probing line proving the difference historically, I’ve got a feeling Ryan Harris could be a huge handful here. He has the perfect attack to compliment him, with both Johnson and Siddle able to force batsmen onto the back foot. Back Harris to clean up in England’s first innings.

VERDICT: Australia 7/10
There’s no stopping these Aussies now. Michael Clarke is not the type of captain to let the intensity slip, the home crowd baying for a whitewash. The MCG will be chock-full of 90 000 of those on Boxing Day. Australia all the way.

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