The Oval was the site of Australia’s capitulation four years ago, and the Brits will be hoping some of 2005 rubs off on them over the next few days. The Aussies have peaked at the right time though, and not even some shifty bookmakers can sway the Australian players from their task. But history does show that the Poms are dangerous when they have nothing to lose.
Australia start favourites today but England have a great chance and we should get another thrilling finish to what has been a great summer of up and down cricket.
After losing to the Poms at Lords for the first time since 1934, we bounced back to draw at Birmingham, and then destroy them at Leeds. Now comes what Ricky Ponting has called the most important test of his career so far.
Should Ricky lose this test, he will become the first Australian captain to lose two Ashes series in England since the early part of last century. Not only that, but it will mean that Australia have lost test series against India, South Africa and England in the past year alone.
The betting man – even the one lurking around the Aussie dressing room – would be wise to put a few bob on our boys doing it. We’ve got the momentum after the magnificent display at Leeds. England are not only hampered by the fitness cloud hanging over spearhead Andrew Flintoff, but are also going into the game with a very green debutant in the form of Jonathan Trott.
Our team, on the other hand, finally looks settled. Siddle, Hilfenhaus and Clark have been good when they’ve played this summer, Lee is finally available and Johnson looks to have put family affairs behind him and has hit his pre-Ashes form at just the right time. With that bowling attack backed up by a batting line-up featuring a re-born Shane Watson and an in-form Michael Clarke and Marcus North, not to mention Ponting himself, Australia must go into the Ashes decider as clear favourites.
Our prediction is for Australia to win, or for the flat batting track to produce a high-scoring draw. Let’s just hope Freddie doesn’t give us the swan-song he has promised.