England v Australia, 5th Test, The Oval
September 7, 2005
Opportunity for the openers at The Oval
What the numbers says about The Oval
A chance for Matthew Hayden to salvage a miserable Ashes series
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Going into a must-win game, Australia wouldn't be too pleased with their record at The Oval - 15 losses and just six wins in 33 matches. They have won only 18% of their matches here, easily the lowest for Australia among all venues in England (Edgbaston is next with 23%). England, on the other hand, have a 35-18 win-loss record at this ground. They have either won or drawn 79% of their Tests here, again the highest among all venues in the country.
Unless the weather conditions force a change in thinking, the captain who wins the toss is almost certain to bat - that has happened in 77 out of 87 matches so far. And the pitch here is usually one which is excellent for batting on the first three days, before becoming much more bowler-friendly - the average runs per wicket in each of the four innings since 1995 is 42.89, 42.53, 24.20, and 21.25.
The true nature of the pitch and the lack of early assistance for the seam and swing bowlers has meant that openers have generally prospered here. In ten Tests since 1995, there have been eight hundreds scored by openers, who average almost 47 in that period. That'll be especially good news for Matthew Hayden, who has had a wretched series so far with 180 runs at an average of 22.50.
|At The Oval since 1995|
The huge difference between first and second-innings totals might suggest that spinners do much better than fast bowlers here, but that isn't the case - in the last ten years, the pace bowlers have taken 207 wickets at 35.80, while the 86 wickets taken by spinners have come at 33.36 apiece.
England's batsmen have mostly had an excellent time here: Marcus Trescothick leads the way with 601 runs from five matches at 85.86, while Michael Vaughan (363 runs at 60.50), and Andrew Flintoff (167 at 83.50) have been among the runs too. Among the bowlers, Steve Harmison has prospered, with 13 wickets at 17.46, but the rest haven't exploited the extra bounce quite as well: Matthew Hoggard's three wickets have come at 59.33 apiece, while Flintoff has taken four wickets at 49.25 each.
Shane Warne is the only Australian to have played three Tests here - his 20 wickets have come at a superb average of 23.30. The Australians will also be hoping Glenn McGrath produces the kind of form that has fetched him 14 wickets at just 15.64 in his two previous Tests here. Ricky Ponting is the only Australian batsman from the current squad to have played more than one Test here - he averages 40.67 in two matches, while Justin Langer's only previous innings here, in 2001, brought him 102 runs before he was forced to retire hurt.
S Rajesh is assistant editor of Cricinfo. For some of the stats he was assisted by Arun Gopalakrishnan in Cricinfo's Chennai office.
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