Aus look to finish with win, Eng want to make it 4-1

Last Updated 19 August 2015, 20:13 IST

England may have already regained the Ashes but captain Alastair Cook is determined not to let-up when they face Australia in the fifth and final Test at The Oval on Thursday — a match that marks rival skipper Michael Clarke’s farewell to international cricket.

Cook’s men triumphed by an innings and 78 runs in the fourth Test at Trent Bridge to take an unbeatable 3-1 lead in the series after Australia, with England paceman Stuart Broad taking a stunning eight for 15, were dismissed for just 60 in 111 balls on the opening morning — the shortest completed first innings of any Test.

No England side has ever won four Tests in a home Ashes series. But they are now within sight of their biggest margin of victory since Mike Brearley led England to a 5-1 success ‘Down Under’ against an Australia side weakened by defections to the ‘rebel’ World Series Cricket in 1978/79.

Taking this series 4-1 would certainly go some way to avenging the memory of the 5-0 whitewash inflicted upon England in Australia some 18 months ago.

There has been talk of how England could promote off-spinning all-rounder Moeen Ali to open in place of the struggling Adam Lyth to make space to play leg-spinner Adil Rashid as well.

But the memory of how England gave a debut to left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan in the corresponding Ashes Test at The Oval two years only for the Lancashire bowler — who hasn’t played senior international cricket since — to be smashed for 53 in the eight overs he bowled is sufficiently fresh in the memory to make it likely that Cook will lead an unchanged team.

Australia’s top-order had another miserable week as their side were nearly made to follow-on by an under-strength Northamptonshire, one of England’s weaker counties, last weekend.

Clarke, one of Australia’s greatest batsmen will be desperate to finish with a flourish as indeed will opener Chris Rogers, who is also retiring after the fifth Test.

Anderson ruled out

England fast bowler James Anderson will miss the fifth and final Ashes Test against Australia as he has failed to recover fully from a side strain, captain Alastair Cook said.

Anderson, who suffered the injury in the third Test at Edgbaston, was still around a week away from full fitness, added Cook. He only returned to bowl in the nets on Tuesday.

"Unfortunately he's not going to make it," Cook said. "He's gutted about it. He's made really good progress from where he was at Edgbaston but this is a week or so too soon.

(Published 19 August 2015, 20:13 IST)

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