5th Ashes Test 2013

Image courtesy of skysports.com
Kevin Pietersen averages in excess of 60 at The Oval. Image courtesy of skysports.com
Australia  will be playing for pride when it faces England  in the fifth and final Ashes test of the 2013 series at The Oval starting on Wednesday. The tourists return to London 3-0 down and with the series lost but still have plenty to play for ahead of the return bout down under at the end of the year. Collecting a win would be a huge confidence boost for Michael Clarke’s men, who haven’t beaten the old enemy in a Test match since tasting victory at the WACA in 2010, with that success the only one in the past ten meetings between the pair.

The problems for Australia throughout the series have stemmed from a lack of runs from the batsmen, with just two of the top seven averaging more than 30. Michael Clarke  and Chris Rogers  have accumulated a combined total of 690 runs in the opening four Tests, with the other batsmen in the top seven have amassed a grand total of just 923 runs. With Usman Khawaja failing to make the most of his opportunity in the past three matches, Tasmanian allrounder James Faulkner will make his debut batting at number seven, while Shane Watson will bat at first drop.

The selection merry-go-round in the fast bowling division looks set to continue as well, with Jackson Bird making way for left-arm quick Mitchell Starc . Starc featured in the first and third Tests but was discarded for the fourth, which Australia lost by 74 runs.

England has had an unchanged lineup for the past three matches but will be forced to make at least one change for the series finale, with Tim Bresnan ruled out for the rest of the English summer with a stress fracture in his lower back. Chris Woakes, Steven Finn and Chris Tremlett  were the fast bowling options named in the 14 man squad announced on the weekend, with the latter Bresnan’s most likely replacement after being part of the squad at both Old Trafford and Chester-le-Street.

Lancashire spinner Simon Kerrigan has been included in the squad for the first time after claiming 47 wickets at 20.23 in Division Two of the County Championship this season but is unlikely to figure with Graeme Swann  the leading wicket-taker in the series. Jonny Bairstow  is likely to retain his place in the side despite scoring just 203 runs at 29 in the opening four matches, but James Taylor is waiting in the wings if the selectors’ patience has worn thin. Kevin Pietersen  has scored four centuries and averages 60.38 at the ground and will relish the opportunity to play at his home ground.

Although there hasn’t been a draw  at this ground since 2007 - with the five most recent Tests all producing a result – The Oval hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for England recently. The hosts have lost two of the past three matches of the ground but Australia’s record at the venue is hardly better, with the side winning just once in ten attempts since 1972.

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