England v Australia 5th Ashes Test preview: England chase history as Clarke retires at Oval

England v Australia 5th Ashes Test preview: England chase history as Clarke retires at Oval

Ashes 2015
Michael Clarke and Chris Rogers will take the field for one last time in the 5th Ashes Test. (© Getty Images)

England v Australia 5th Ashes Test preview: England chase history as Clarke retires at Oval: The hashtags have started. And soon the online world will be flooded with #Pup’s farewell and #ThankYouClarke. While Michael Clarke would love the respect, he would also be feeling that Australia’s dismal show has pretty much fast forwarded his retirement plans.

Another Ashes, and another sight of the hosts dominating. The Ashes have off late had an air of predictability about them. But those who saw the previous encounters in the 2013-14 series in Australia, would have struggled to predict this result. This is not a defeat, this is tame surrender. More than the scoreline, what is concerning is the way the Aussies have capitulated. And you would forgive me if I do not call the English unbeatable.

After the humiliation at Lord’s, England regrouped and staged a comeback which left the cricketing circles in utter disbelief. If it was James Anderson and Steve Finn in the third Test, Stuart Broad’s destructive spell blew the Aussies away on the opening day of the fourth Test. The visitors have struggled against swing. The feet are not moving, shot selection has been very poor and starts haven’t been converted. Apart from Chris Rogers, Steve Smith and David Warner, no batsmen has made an impression.

Clarke would not have imagined that he would have to leave in such dire circumstances. In fact, when he announced his retirement from the fifty over format, earlier this year, he had said that one of the reasons for that decision was his desire to prolong his Test career. But as things would have it, Clarke is retiring even from Tests, just months after that historic World Cup win.

Apart from Clarke, Chris Rogers, who has been in impeccable form during the series, will also sign off at the end of the Test. Though the retirement of these two players might take centre-stage at the end of the Test match, both the players will play their best cricket to help Australia come up with a second win in the series, which has been dominated by England.

Mitchell Marsh is in the frame to play after coach Darren Lehmann admitted the selectors were wrong to leave him out at Trent Bridge while Pat Cummins could make his long-awaited return to Test cricket with Josh Hazlewood battling a sore shin. Cummins bowled well and also scored a match saving 82 in Australia’s tour match last week.

For England, James Anderson, who missed out the fourth Test, will miss out the final Test as well, since he is not 100% fit, and that gives Mark Wood another game. Joe Root’s glorious run with the bat has continued. With a spectacular aggregate of 443 runs in the first four Tests, Root has ensured, England were ahead on most of the occasions. 2 hundreds, 2 fifties, and an impressive average reveal why he has been the thorn in Australia’s flesh this summer.

Though there are reports of spinner Adil Rashid being given a Test debut, one doubts if the leggie will be lucky enough to get a Test cap, with England having been successful with their seamers Broad, Wood and Steve Finn.

With the Ashes won, the surface is unlikely to be as bowler-friendly like those we saw in Birmingham and Nottingham. England would not want to relent and will be eager to sign off the Test series on a winning note. Australia can maintain their No.2 position ahead of England on the ICC Test Rankings if they can avoid defeat at The Oval, while a win or a draw would also save them from the unwanted feat of becoming the first ever Australian team to lose four Tests on an Ashes tour.

Stats to Ponder:

1. England has won 4 consecutive home Ashes series for the first time since 1986.

2. 122 – That’s the number of unbeaten runs Michael Clarke needs at The Oval to become just the ninth Australia to finish his Test career with a batting average of 50.

Probable XI:

England: Alastair Cook (C), Adam Lyth, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Johny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (WK), Moeen Ali, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn, Mark Wood.

Australia: Chris Rogers, David Warner, Steve Smith, Adam Voges, Michael Clarke (C), Peter Nevill (WK), Mitchell Marsh, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon.