Third Ashes Test Preview: Can England Turn The Series Around?6 min read
Although competitive for some parts of both of the first two Ashes Tests, the fact remains England have been soundly beaten by ten wickets and 120 runs.
Australia are riding the crest of a wave, despite having their own issues with the batting line up – whilst England, amidst another wave of noise about their off-pitch antics which have given rise to the perception (even if it’s not the reality) that they are just a bunch of blokes on a jolly, are about to embark on a must win Test match. History is not with the tourists; England have not won at the WACA since 1978 and have lost there on all of their last seven visits. One positive for England is that Australia have only won once there in their last four matches drawing one and losing the other two.
Australia are, understandably, firm favourites at to win. The WACA, although not quite as fearsomely quick as it once was, is still expected to be a fast bouncy pitch which suit their trio of quick bowlers and allow Nathan Lyon to continue to extract the turn and bounce he’s been getting throughout.
Weather, pitch and conditions
Unlike in Adelaide, where the weather was distinctly British. Perth will be hot, hot and hotter giving rise to a hard dry pitch and a quick outfield. Expect this to be a much higher scoring Test match than Adelaide – especially if Australia bat first.
We’re back to the tradition of the red ball which means there will be some movement on offer for the seamers with the new ball but only for 20 overs or so which will be followed by an important period for the spinners to provide a holding role until the ball gets old enough that reverse swing may come into play.
Despite pleasing signs from James Anderson and Chris Woakes in Australia’s second innings at Adelaide, England go into the third Test with the same concerns about Moeen Ali’s lack of form and the injury to his finger and the lack of pace in their attack. Craig Overton had an admirable debut and his confidence will have been greatly boosted by his performance at Adelaide. It is unlikely England will change their bowling line up – mostly because of lack of options – but unless Moeen Ali can find some form, it could be a couple of long hot days for England’s seamers. Woakes came into the series with little cricket under his belt due to an injury sustained in the English summer but there were signs at Adelaide that his pace was back up a bit and he was returning to form. He is to be England’s top wicket taker in the match.
Australia will not even think about changing their four man attack. A hard bouncy WACA will suit Mitchell Starc – it certainly suited Mitchell Johnson (a similar bowler) four years ago when he ripped through England. He is to be Australia’s leading wicket taker. Lyon will enjoy the extra bounce the WACA pitch will give him and will come into his own in the second innings – he is to be Australia’s top wicket taker.
Australia may replace Peter Handscombe, who looked to be having all sorts of doubts about his technique, with Mitchell Marsh (brother of Shaun – because one Marsh in the team is never enough). Shaun Marsh’s century in the Adelaide Test was fluent and assured but Australia are still searching for big runs from their top three although there are signs that a big score from David Warner is just around the corner. He’s to be Australia’s top run scorer.
England are still on the hunt for someone to go and make a big score and certainly in the second innings at Adelaide, Joe Root looked fluent moving his feet well and scoring fluidly. He’ll be desperate to turn the attention away from off-pitch shenanigans back onto the performances on the field and is just the man to lead the turn-around. He is to be England’s top run scorer.
Although there have been calls for England to move the batting order to break up all the left handers in the middle order who are susceptible to Nathan Lyon, it looks unlikely they will do that leaving Bairstow the responsibility of shepherding the tail again although if Woakes and Overton can hang around with him, he has a good opportunity to enjoy the pace of the pitch and play aggressively. He is to be England’s top run scorer.
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