England skipper Alistair Cook scored 160 last time he played at the Riverside Ground. Picture: Gregg Porteous/heraldsun.com.au
Australia may have lost any chance of regaining the Ashes with the draw in Manchester earlier this week, but will take all of the momentum into the 4th Test against England starting at Chester-le-Street on Friday. Michael Clarke’s men had the hosts in trouble at Old Trafford but were thwarted by rain and bad light in their bid to keep the series alive.
The tourists are unlikely to make any radical changes to the XI given their strong performance in the 3rd Test but will assess the fitness of paceman Ryan Harris after he got through plenty of work in Manchester. Harris has been plagued by injury throughout his 14 Test career and won’t be risked if he hasn’t fully recovered from his exertions with just a three day break between matches. Should the Queensland quick sit out in Durham, Jackson Bird would come in to the side.
David Warner was elevated to the top of the order in the 2nd innings at Old Trafford as Australia sought quick runs and could continue to open given Shane Watson’s woes against England’s seamers. The valuable allrounder has reached double figures in each of his six visits the crease but has failed to pass 50 and may be better suited coming in against Graeme Swann, who is the leading wicket taker in the series. Inexplicably for an international opener, Watson has now played 45 innings since the most recent of his two Test centuries and coach Darren Lehmann’s patience with his former teammate is starting to wear thin.
Local boy Graham Onions returns to the England squad for the 4th Test alongside Chris Tremlett, with spinner Monty Panesar and backup batsman James Taylor making way. Chester-le-Street traditionally favours the pacemen and Onions may come into contention to play his first Test for 12 months if the hosts elect to make any changes, although that seems unlikely. Stuart Broad has just six wickets from the first three matches, but has bowled much better than his figures would suggest and Tim Bresnan could be the man to make way for Onions inclusion if he does get the nod. Pace spearhead James Anderson has a liking for the Durham wicket, having 15 wickets at 14 in two matches at the ground, including 9/125 in a man of the match performance against the Windies in 2009.
England’s batsmen have totally outplayed their Australian counterparts throughout the series, with three of the hosts top six going on to make a century. Despite going past 50 twice, England skipper Alistair Cook has disappointed with the bat so far in the series and is averaging just 24 but will relish returning to the ground where he scored 160 at his last visit to the crease.
The hosts have a great record at the Riverside Ground in Durham, having won all four of the Test matches that have been played at the ground, with three of those victories coming by an innings. They are yet to play one of the ‘big’ teams at the venue however, having only faced Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and the West Indies in Test matches in the North East of England.
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