3rd Ashes Test 2013

Picture: Getty Images/abc.net.au
Australia has struggled on its tour of England. Picture: Getty Images/abc.net.au
Australia  will be looking to put the disappointment of a comprehensive defeat at Lord’s to the back of its memory when the third Ashes Test against England  gets underway at Old Trafford on Thursday. After pushing the hosts to the wire when going down by just 14 runs in the series opener at Edgbaston, Michael Clarke’s troops succumbed meekly at the home of cricket, going down by 347 runs. That defeat was the sixth successive Test that Australia has lost, something that has only happened twice before in the countries proud history. Having taken a 2-0 series lead, England has now won four Ashes Tests in a row for the first time since 1929 and the tourists will be determined to ensure that don’t extend that sequence to five.

Coach Darren Lehmann will be forced to make at least one change to his team for the match, with fast bowler James Pattinson ruled out of the remainder of the series with a back injury. Left armer Mitchell Starc  could earn a recall after being dropped at Lord’s to make way for Ryan Harris but a more likely inclusion could well be Jackson Bird . The Tasmanian quick has 11 wickets at 16.08 from his two matches in the baggy green and provides greater control than Starc. Ashton Agar could also come under fire for his place in the side after taking just 2/248 in the first two Tests, with Nathan Lyon  likely to be the man to replace him on a pitch expected to provide some assistance for the spinners.

There are unlikely to be any changes to the batting order, although Steve Smith could be forced to sit the match out after missing training earlier in the week with a back injury. Should the New South Welshman be ruled out, David Warner  would be the man most likely to come into the side after scoring 193 for Australia A against South Africa A in Pretoria last week.  

Australian batsmen have passed 50 seven times so far in the series but no player has gone on to make a century and Lehmann will want to see his batsman convert their starts into big scores. Skipper Michael Clarke  looked good at Lord’s, making a start in both innings, but the form of Shane Watson  at the top of the order must be a concern. The hard-hitting opener has already been dismissed LBW  three times during the series and needs to address the technical issues that have been exposed by England’s pacemen.

The hosts are expected to take an unchanged XI into battle at Old Trafford as they bid to wrap the series up at the earliest possible opportunity. The only injury concern for the hosts is Kevin Pietersen , who strained his calf in the 2nd Test but is recovering well. James Taylor  has been brought into the squad as cover for Pietersen and will be ready to go after scoring an unbeaten ton for Sussex against the tourists at his most recent visit to the crease. Ian Bell  scored centuries in both of the opening two matches and has fond memories of Manchester, having scored 128 and being named man of the match against Bangladesh in the most recent test at the ground.

Seven of the past eight Test matches at Old Trafford have produced a result, with the only exception being the famous 2005 clash between these sides when Brett Lee and Glen McGrath saw out the final four overs to secure a dramatic draw . The ground has generally been kind to Australia in recent times, with the tourists having last lost to the old enemy here in 1981. England has won the past six completed matches in Manchester however.

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