Australia v England, 3rd Test, Perth December 15, 2010

England bid for early Christmas present


Match Facts

December 16-20, Perth
Start time 10:30 (02:30 GMT)

The Big Picture

All both teams want for Christmas is a win, but Australia would settle for a draw as a way of stopping the damage from an opponent showing few weaknesses. England lead the five-match contest 1-0 and will retain the Ashes with a victory, which is the most likely result on the form of the opening two encounters. England have never secured the urn before Christmas in their 133-year history of visits Down Under, and they may never have a better chance.

The series is only 10 days old but already it has taken a toll on both sides. Stuart Broad has been ruled out with a stomach tear and will spend his week in the Test Match Special commentary box instead of the dressing room. Simon Katich's heel problem has forced him out of the side and Australia have called for the type of wholesale changes England teams were mocked for making between 1989 and 2002-03. It's young talent time for the hosts, with Steven Smith (21), Phillip Hughes (22) and Michael Beer (26) coming in, and Mitchell Johnson in favour again after a week spent in the WACA nets.

Apart from which fast bowler to pick to replace Broad, England's main worry is their recent history of giving away hard-won series leads. They allowed Australia to level the 2009 Ashes after four games - but recovered to take the trophy - and also drew in South Africa after earning an early advantage. Australia are praying for more generosity this time.

Form guide

(most recent first)

Australia LDLLL
England WDWLW

Watch out for...

Mitchell Johnson is back. That would have been a scary line once, but over the past two years he has become a man of mystery. Dropped for the first time in his Test career after going wicket-less in Brisbane, Johnson has trained his way back after an intense week working with Troy Cooley, the bowling coach. The WACA is a great venue for Johnson, who has 21 wickets in three Tests, including a career-best match haul of 11 for 159. Australia need that version of Johnson in this fixture, not the ineffective model that appeared at the Gabba.

The new dad James Anderson has been to Lancashire and back over the past week to be at the birth of his second child. Over the next five days he will have to battle jet-lag and an Australia batting line-up that is determined not to be overwhelmed by England's remodelled attack. Anderson's control and swing will be vital, especially when he's running into the breeze of the Fremantle Doctor. He was dropped for the Perth Test on the previous tour, but is such a better bowler than he was four years ago..

Team news

Australia's big question surrounds whether to play Peter Siddle, the bowler who started the series with six wickets on the opening day in Brisbane. Siddle hasn't claimed a victim in Australia's past two innings and Ryan Harris jumped ahead of him in Adelaide. If both Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus, the in-to-the-wind man, come back in, then Siddle will probably miss out. He may get a reprieve if Beer is left out, but that will depend on the wicket on Thursday morning. Ponting is delaying naming the side until he takes one final look at the surface.

Australia (probable) 1 Shane Watson, 2 Phillip Hughes, 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Michael Clarke, 5 Michael Hussey, 6 Steven Smith, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Michael Beer, 10 Ryan Harris, 11 Ben Hilfenhaus.

It is now almost certain that Chris Tremlett will be Broad's replacement ahead of Tim Bresnan. Despite Bresnan's tactical nous on flat pitches, Tremlett offers extra bounce and menace with his height and will have a crucial role to play alongside Anderson, Steven Finn and Graeme Swann.

England (probable) 1 Andrew Strauss (capt), 2 Alastair Cook, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Paul Collingwood, 6 Ian Bell, 7 Matt Prior (wk), 8 Graeme Swann, 9 James Anderson, 10 Chris Tremlett, 11 Steven Finn.

Pitch and conditions

Perth is always talked up as a fast man's favourite but over the past decade it has disappointed. Every year there is excited chatter from the locals that this time it will recapture its past glories. Maybe it will really happen this time. The pitch is expected to start with a tinge of green, but the cracking late in the match is expected to be a far greater concern to the batsmen than early seam movement. Sunny conditions are forecast throughout the game, with maximum temperatures above 30C.

Stats and trivia

  • England have won only one of 11 Tests at the WACA, with that victory coming in the Packer-depleted era of 1978-79
  • Australia have succeeded in 21 of 39 games here, with only nine losses. Five of those were against West Indies.
  • Ricky Ponting is the leading the run-scorer in Tests at the WACA with 933, two more than Allan Border. David Gower is the best of the overseas players with 471 in five matches
  • If Alastair Cook is wanting to add the highest score at the WACA to his Brisbane ground record, he must beat Matthew Hayden's 380 against Zimbabwe in 2003-04
  • Quotes

    "We are priming ourselves to play our best game so far in the series and we know we have to do it by a long way if we want to win the game."
    Ricky Ponting

    "I feel like it's part of my job as a bowler and I see myself as the leader of the attack here, so it's important I think about what went right for us in the last two games and what we can improve on for this game."
    James Anderson had plenty time to ponder his game during 48 hours of flying in the past week

    Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Suresh on December 16, 2010, 3:26 GMT

    changes changes....what difference it makes...the same story....Ricky it's time u decide about your future ASAP else you will be down the drain soon.... I recollect a line from Clint Eastwood's movie Magnum Force ...." A man should know his limitations "......guess Ricky does not know that....and that Rome did not last for ever, he should accept the fact that CHANGE is the only thing in the world that's permanent...and it's other teams time to come up and dominate world cricket....Ausies you days of domination is done with....accept the fact...even Chappel, Healy, Shane, Billy, the commentry team keep talking of Ausies coming back and dominating again.....god..... where do these people come's now time for Eng, Ind, SA to dominate guys....time over for Ausies....the quick you guys digest that the better.....

  • Tim on December 16, 2010, 2:06 GMT

    Australia picked Johnson, England will win. There is no hope of building any pressure when the so-called strike bowler cant be sure of hitting the pitch. Pathetic.

  • Ol on December 16, 2010, 1:58 GMT

    Ponting has to score. If he fails test Australia loses. Siddle and Johnson will perform here. But Ponting must score. He should go in the match as if theres no other batsman. It is his failure that is letting Australia down.

  • Dummy4 on December 16, 2010, 0:46 GMT

    england will win!!... its a new dawn of cricket

  • Dummy4 on December 16, 2010, 0:26 GMT

    @Righthandbat. Every game is important to both sides in an Ashes series but to say more important to England is just ignorant of the facts. Australia need to win two tests out of the remaining three and considering they've taken 16 wickets in the first two tests combined it doesn't look good at the moment for them. One more point, did you watch the first two tests? Watson, Hussey and Haddin were the only Australian batsmen to perform well. Why would you take out one of your in form players? Either way, if Clarke hasn't lose his place after his performances thus far, Haddin certainly has nothing to worry about.

  • Dummy4 on December 16, 2010, 0:23 GMT

    the aussies are going to die go cook 385 u can do it if not go kp give them a wopping that is long overdue.

  • Chetan on December 15, 2010, 23:59 GMT

    Australis is going to loose..Ricky Pointing will be retired..Micheal Clark will not be new captain of Australia...ALL Indians supports England...Go this test match and secure Ashes..............

  • Raj on December 15, 2010, 23:28 GMT

    Is Glen McGrath still predicting 5-0 win for Aussie... I hope he is better at maths than he is with his crystal ball gazing .. LoL...

    It will be great to see the two great HAS BEEN teams battling for 4th and 5th place TEST rankings....

  • Harvey on December 15, 2010, 22:51 GMT

    Johnson should not play until he plays a shield game. Net practice proves nothing, he was practicing in the nets before wasnt he? Go England, Crush 'em

  • Alastair on December 15, 2010, 22:33 GMT

    This game is far more important to England than Australia. England suffered an innings defeat and came back and comfortably won the last test in 2009. Australia could easily do the same.

    The England batting lineup has been in very good form, but some mistakes (like playing Cook against Victoria) have been creeping in and it is up to them to ensure that their bowling and batting remains solid. An Australian victory here will be pretty devastating to England, given the MCG and SCG are left and they are never easy venues to play at - the crowd will be much more Australian (especially if it is 1-1 in the series). England have to win in Perth or produce a gritty draw otherwise this campaign will get a lot harder.

    Australia must at the very least draw this game, and Ponting must return to form, along with a good performance from the bowling attack. Haddin also needs to prove he can bat at 6, so the likes of Smith (or another all-rounder) can slot in at 7 for the future.

  • No featured comments at the moment.