Thursday, 20 August 2009

Ooh You Are Oval... But I Like You

After what seems like an eternity since Australia inflicted a drubbing on England in Leeds, the fifth and final Ashes test gets underway at the Oval tonight. It's winner takes all with both sides on a game each, although the Aussies have a bit of an advantage as a draw will be enough for them to keep their mitts on the little urn.

As a result of the Headingley thrashing few people are predicting an England success. This is a shame because not only have this English team already proved that they can win against this Australian side, but everybody knows that if you keep Ricky Ponting's young side under pressure, they will wilt. We saw it during India and South Africa's visits to Australia, and even lest we forget, off the back of the 5-0 Ashes thrashing in 2006-07 when a humiliated England somehow rallied to win the one-day series down under. Much has been said about the way the momentum has been passed to Australia throughout the series, but you can bet your arse that those young Aussie players will be bricking it just as much as the English who - now reinstated as underdogs - have less to lose.

The Australians have been far more profligate with the bat and that, combined with Mitchell Johnson and Stuart Clark's returns to form and the team respectively, is what makes them favourites. And yet, when the weather has suited them, the English bowling has been equally impressive, and it's on that point that my faint hopes hang. This is after all about one game. Everything else is past, these next few days are all. In footballing terms this is a Cup Final occasion. England's bowlers need to remember what they are capable of, and if they happen to be reading this whilst tucking into their Pop Tarts and bowls of Frosties, I hope this collection of the best moments from the previous four tests gees them up a bit...

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