Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney January 2, 2011

Ashes in the bag, but series still at stake

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Match Facts

January 3-7, Sydney
Start time 10:30 (23:30 GMT)

The Big Picture

The Ashes have been retained, but there's still so much at stake as the series moves on to the New Year Test in Sydney. Another performance as crushing as either Adelaide or Melbourne proved to be, and England will have triumphed 3-1 - a margin of victory befitting a campaign that has been as meticulously crafted as any in the long history of Anglo-Australian rivalry. Another slip-up of the sort that threatened to derail them in Perth, however, and the series will be squared at 2-2, the first such scoreline since 1972, but one that would leave the Aussies feeling decidedly chipper after one of their most exacting home summers since the mid-1980s.

All the signs point to England. They are settled, confident and - despite a few justified hangovers on the morning after the Ashes were retained - supremely focused on a speck in the middle distance which reads "World No. 1". They've got a long way to go yet, but seeing as they have not lost a series of any description since September 2009, they are well on their way to that aim. Australia, by contrast, have just succumbed to their fifth Test defeat in seven matches, and are reeling not only from the sheer destructiveness of England's performance at the MCG, but the implications of the collateral damage as well, with Ricky Ponting sidelined for the first time in six years.

Nevertheless, we've been here before in Ashes cricket. Twenty-four years ago at this very ground, the seeds of Australia's renaissance were sown at the precise moment that England believed they had laid them out for the rest of the decade. When the unheralded offspinner Peter Taylor claimed eight wickets on debut to secure a consolation 55-run victory in the fifth Test of the 1986-87 series, it was assumed it was a case of dead cat bounce for an out-muscled outfit. On the contrary, that victory would be the first of 12 Aussie wins without reply in Ashes cricket, with their run finally ending at The Oval in 1993.

The lesson is simple. When Australia are down, they need to be kept there at all costs, because no side is more adept at improbable regeneration. The odds may be stacked against them, but if England dare to turn up without their fullest focus, the scope for an upset still exists.

Form guide

(most recent first)

Australia LWLDL
England WLWDW

Watch out for...

Michael Beer and Usman Khawaja will be making their Test debuts, but they will have surpassed themselves if they attract even a fraction of the attention that will be reserved for third first-timer in the Aussie ranks. On Monday, Michael Clarke will become Australia's 43rd Test captain, and so step into a role that is second only in the nation's prestige to the office of Prime Minister. Whether he is worthy of such a position is a question that he needs to answer PDQ. Some 85% of respondents to a national newspaper poll do not believe he is up to it, and while his team-mates have rallied round obediently this week, it is no secret that he is not universally adored within the dressing room. With 148 runs at 21.14 in the series to date, he'll secure himself a quick hit of respect if he can rediscover his once-silky batting form.

Graeme Swann has been a ubiquitous presence in England's Ashes campaign, from his series-long tussle with Australia's main man, Michael Hussey, to his lead role in the sprinkler dance with which the squad celebrated the moment of victory at Melbourne. Through his acclaimed tour video, the insight track on a happy and harmonious squad has been plain to see. But his actual on-field contributions have been rather more subdued than he would have planned. Five matchwinning wickets at Adelaide and a vital holding role at the MCG have been offset by two anonymous outings at Brisbane and Perth. But Sydney is traditionally a spinner's sanctuary. He will expect to make feathers fly.

Team news

A new year, a new team for Australia. Ponting's broken finger means he will be absent from their ranks for the first time since the tour of India in 2004-05, some 73 Tests ago, while Ryan Harris's stress fractured ankle deprives them of arguably their most tireless fast-bowling option, and a man who claimed a career-best 6 for 47 at Perth a fortnight ago. Khawaja, Australia's first Muslim Test cricketer, will step into Ponting's immense shoes at No. 3, while Beer will finally get an outing after carrying the stubbies at the WACA and the MCG. Doug Bollinger is 12th man.

Australia 1 Shane Watson, 2 Phillip Hughes, 3 Usman Khawaja, 4 Michael Clarke (capt), 5 Michael Hussey, 6 Steven Smith, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Peter Siddle, 10 Michael Beer, 11 Ben Hilfenhaus.

Paul Collingwood's form remains a concern for England, but he will surely play, albeit at No. 6, for what could yet be his final appearance in Test cricket. After his heroics in the fourth Test, Tim Bresnan has earned the right to keep his place in England's pace attack, despite the claims of the rested Steven Finn and the ever-eager but as-yet-unused Ajmal Shahzad.

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

Pitch and conditions

Sydney's traditional characteristics will please Swann after a series in which only one surface, Adelaide, has truly played into his hands. But, according to David Saker, England's revered bowling coach and the architect of their strategies for all five Tests, it will also swing at the SCG. James Anderson will be licking his lips, but so too Mitchell Johnson. The curator Tom Parker says win the toss and bat, and to expect spin from day three, but heavy overnight rain may tempt the captains to bowl.

Stats and trivia

  • Australia's record at the SCG is formidable, with 14 wins in 16 Tests dating back to 1996.

  • However, England are the only side to have beaten them at the venue in that time. Their 225-run win in 2002-03 was their last win on Australian soil until last month's Adelaide Test .

  • Alastair Cook needs 23 more runs to reach 600 for the series, a landmark achieved by just six England batsmen in Australia, most recently Michael Vaughan (633) in 2002-03.

  • Ricky Ponting 's absence leaves him stranded on 99 Test wins, which is still the most individual victories by any player in Test history.

Quotes

"He'll be an aggressive captain, always looking to take wickets out there, make changes to the field and with the bowlers. That's the way Australians have played our cricket as long as I can remember. I think he'll be a very positive captain."
Michael Hussey gives a vote of confidence to his new leader, Michael Clarke

"We had one night out after the game, you should celebrate a Test victory and an Ashes-retaining victory heavily. I tried to a lead a merry dance, but that was one night and we've moved on."
Graeme Swann says that England's focus is back on the job after some heady times following the Melbourne win

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY www.betstop.info on | January 3, 2011, 0:18 GMT

    Interesting that this has developed into a rankings debate. For my money England need to beat India (in India) and South Africa (in South Africa) before people can begin to tout them as #1!

  • POSTED BY on | January 2, 2011, 21:45 GMT

    @sumeet kumar and Pranav : I think every objective cricket fan will agree that eng and sa are both better than India now and England shd soon overtake india. So what, can't any team even aspire to be number 1 now? At least I hope England beats India to shift the powers(political and financial) a bit. I am quite frankly tired of reading how India is number 1 in almost every commentable article. I wonder what people like you will say when England beats India 1) doctored pitches 2) cloud cover / swingig conditions 3) Kevin pietersen and trott aren't as good as sehwag and dravid respectively 4) sachin is god btw, the only team inthe top 5 who cringe about losing the toss and subsequently the game is India , they do it with amazing consistency too

  • POSTED BY CaughtAndBowled on | January 2, 2011, 21:42 GMT

    Sheikh Washimul, England had beaten Aussies when "both" McGrath and Warne?!! Isn't that other way around? 5-0??? Also, England can decimate India?! When was the last time England had won a series against India either home or other?? May be you have to check facts before typing rubbish.

  • POSTED BY on | January 2, 2011, 21:30 GMT

    who cares about india? This article is about the Ashes: England & Australia. If you want to chat about India i believe theres another series going on elsewhere...

  • POSTED BY montys_muse on | January 2, 2011, 21:08 GMT

    The reason for leaving Hauritz out to include Beer is to have a spinner who spins away from the right handed batsmen.....is ridiculous! Imagine leaving Swann out to include Panesar!

  • POSTED BY superislam2011 on | January 2, 2011, 20:38 GMT

    go on usman i hope you hit a century anyways austrailais no 6 problemn has been solved pointing could play in no 6 position for australia ohhh that wud be great

  • POSTED BY Beefy_B on | January 2, 2011, 20:09 GMT

    @ Sumeet Kumar and Pranav25-What this article has anything to do with India being the best team in the world I don't know. The current England set up has only ever said that being no 1 is what they are striving for. Isn't any team? Why play if that isn't your goal? India are no 1 in the rankings at the moment. Can't you just be happy about that? Anyway, underestimate any Australian team at your peril. England will have to be right on our game if we are going to win. Conditions should suit us, but if Johnson has a good game it could go either way.

  • POSTED BY on | January 2, 2011, 20:05 GMT

    As far as test rankings are concerned, its funny that everyone wants to be number 1 but they actually do not respect the rankings. Its great that Eng and SA are playing fantastic cricket and they are fab teams. they should absolutely aim for being #1 but then they should respect the current number1 too. India is part of the same system guys. I agree India do not hv a team like Aus of 2000s or WI of 70s, but then i dont think there is any such team at the moment. Eng has just started winning and their team is untested in subcontinent n SA. SA is gr8 team, skill wise almost perfect but time n again they fall short on the mental ability. Ind do not have the bowlin attack, they bank too heavily on zaheer, but I think mentally they r very strong @ the moment ( I know sm will laugh but you just need to see number of 4th inning chases India has completed in last few years, it points towards mental toughness)

  • POSTED BY on | January 2, 2011, 19:47 GMT

    For people who say India create turning pitches, please be informed that if Aus can prepare bouncy WACA pitch, SA can create a green and bouncy Durban pitch, so can India. For those who do not know its called 'home advantage'. India should not expect easy pitches abroad and neither should others in India. I think thats the fun of the game. I think it just rubs people wrong way when they realise its only subcontinent that very different from rest of the world and they cant play there natural game like they can in most other places, thats why rest of the world do not have great records in subcontinent, but guys same way India do not have a great record outside subcontinent. Its strange that I am writing this on the preview of Eng- aus match..

  • POSTED BY on | January 2, 2011, 19:22 GMT

    Anyway getting back to England vs. Aus Test match. I guess Australia would play for their pride in this test. If England can dent their confidence again through some quick wickets or scoring at a rapid face without losing wicket then I think hope of Aus to make a draw the series would suffer a big jolt. I think initial performance of both teams is quite important. Best of luck to both teams, but I would love English guys to win, although they pose a challenge to my home team - India, England have certainly played brilliant cricket and deserve to go 3-1 up. I am astounded by perfomance of England Top Order. Good Going.

  • POSTED BY www.betstop.info on | January 3, 2011, 0:18 GMT

    Interesting that this has developed into a rankings debate. For my money England need to beat India (in India) and South Africa (in South Africa) before people can begin to tout them as #1!

  • POSTED BY on | January 2, 2011, 21:45 GMT

    @sumeet kumar and Pranav : I think every objective cricket fan will agree that eng and sa are both better than India now and England shd soon overtake india. So what, can't any team even aspire to be number 1 now? At least I hope England beats India to shift the powers(political and financial) a bit. I am quite frankly tired of reading how India is number 1 in almost every commentable article. I wonder what people like you will say when England beats India 1) doctored pitches 2) cloud cover / swingig conditions 3) Kevin pietersen and trott aren't as good as sehwag and dravid respectively 4) sachin is god btw, the only team inthe top 5 who cringe about losing the toss and subsequently the game is India , they do it with amazing consistency too

  • POSTED BY CaughtAndBowled on | January 2, 2011, 21:42 GMT

    Sheikh Washimul, England had beaten Aussies when "both" McGrath and Warne?!! Isn't that other way around? 5-0??? Also, England can decimate India?! When was the last time England had won a series against India either home or other?? May be you have to check facts before typing rubbish.

  • POSTED BY on | January 2, 2011, 21:30 GMT

    who cares about india? This article is about the Ashes: England & Australia. If you want to chat about India i believe theres another series going on elsewhere...

  • POSTED BY montys_muse on | January 2, 2011, 21:08 GMT

    The reason for leaving Hauritz out to include Beer is to have a spinner who spins away from the right handed batsmen.....is ridiculous! Imagine leaving Swann out to include Panesar!

  • POSTED BY superislam2011 on | January 2, 2011, 20:38 GMT

    go on usman i hope you hit a century anyways austrailais no 6 problemn has been solved pointing could play in no 6 position for australia ohhh that wud be great

  • POSTED BY Beefy_B on | January 2, 2011, 20:09 GMT

    @ Sumeet Kumar and Pranav25-What this article has anything to do with India being the best team in the world I don't know. The current England set up has only ever said that being no 1 is what they are striving for. Isn't any team? Why play if that isn't your goal? India are no 1 in the rankings at the moment. Can't you just be happy about that? Anyway, underestimate any Australian team at your peril. England will have to be right on our game if we are going to win. Conditions should suit us, but if Johnson has a good game it could go either way.

  • POSTED BY on | January 2, 2011, 20:05 GMT

    As far as test rankings are concerned, its funny that everyone wants to be number 1 but they actually do not respect the rankings. Its great that Eng and SA are playing fantastic cricket and they are fab teams. they should absolutely aim for being #1 but then they should respect the current number1 too. India is part of the same system guys. I agree India do not hv a team like Aus of 2000s or WI of 70s, but then i dont think there is any such team at the moment. Eng has just started winning and their team is untested in subcontinent n SA. SA is gr8 team, skill wise almost perfect but time n again they fall short on the mental ability. Ind do not have the bowlin attack, they bank too heavily on zaheer, but I think mentally they r very strong @ the moment ( I know sm will laugh but you just need to see number of 4th inning chases India has completed in last few years, it points towards mental toughness)

  • POSTED BY on | January 2, 2011, 19:47 GMT

    For people who say India create turning pitches, please be informed that if Aus can prepare bouncy WACA pitch, SA can create a green and bouncy Durban pitch, so can India. For those who do not know its called 'home advantage'. India should not expect easy pitches abroad and neither should others in India. I think thats the fun of the game. I think it just rubs people wrong way when they realise its only subcontinent that very different from rest of the world and they cant play there natural game like they can in most other places, thats why rest of the world do not have great records in subcontinent, but guys same way India do not have a great record outside subcontinent. Its strange that I am writing this on the preview of Eng- aus match..

  • POSTED BY on | January 2, 2011, 19:22 GMT

    Anyway getting back to England vs. Aus Test match. I guess Australia would play for their pride in this test. If England can dent their confidence again through some quick wickets or scoring at a rapid face without losing wicket then I think hope of Aus to make a draw the series would suffer a big jolt. I think initial performance of both teams is quite important. Best of luck to both teams, but I would love English guys to win, although they pose a challenge to my home team - India, England have certainly played brilliant cricket and deserve to go 3-1 up. I am astounded by perfomance of England Top Order. Good Going.

  • POSTED BY on | January 2, 2011, 19:15 GMT

    @ Sancheet. As far as your criticism of India is concerned. I guess, generally to beat a good side ( Read Top 3) You need favorable condition in at least one of the innings which India had at that time. At least India beat England one time in England. I don't remember the last time England beat India in India. India at present , may not have an aura of West-Indies in 70's and 80's or Australia in late 1990's and early 2000's but it is best of the lot. If England Players like Gough think that they are best they should wait for England to come and play in unfamiliar conditions in India. Even if England could draw the series I wouldn't contradict Mr. Gough further.

  • POSTED BY on | January 2, 2011, 17:56 GMT

    @ASHWIN ENGLAND have beaten the AUSSIES when Warne and Grath were there. However, India could never even challenged the AUSSIES on any track outside the ones in INDIA, which are doctored to make way for the spinners. ENGLAND can decimate INDIA on any track now. ENGLAND are the best side in WC 2011 , and also the strongest contender for the cup.

    also watch how SHAKIB AL HASAN destroys INDIA in the opening match of WC 2011

  • POSTED BY on | January 2, 2011, 17:16 GMT

    @sumeet kumar...... you should check for records first. Indians were lucky with weather and toss last time out in england, they somehow drawn in 1st test and bowled out england in 2nd after winning the toss in seaming condidtions.and they made history. Just the same way India should play more abroad to be worthy of number 1 which i dont think they deserve. If they are really a number 1 team then they should win world cup. If they dont then ....

  • POSTED BY 5wombats on | January 2, 2011, 17:08 GMT

    Best for England fans not to take anything for granted, but for the first time since the Oval in 1985 (which I attended on Day 1....) I'm expecting an England win in a Test match against Australia. Haven't been able to say that for 25 years such has been the dominance of the old enemy. This is why winning against Australia is important - it doesn't happen very often!!!!!

  • POSTED BY lucy82 on | January 2, 2011, 16:41 GMT

    Sumeet Kumar, before the ashes series England were judged on 2006, some people said they didn't stand a chance. Anderson, Cook and Bell we going to be rubbish apparently, they proved people wrong. Just shows what happens when you make assumptions based on the past. This is a different team now , lets just wait and see shall we?

  • POSTED BY phoenixsteve on | January 2, 2011, 16:40 GMT

    Hey Cricinfo.... Jonesy2 thinks it was "the worst review ever" so judging by this guys track record - you are obviously SPOT ON! Everyone (even most sensible Aussies) expects England to win this one. I for one agree ABSOLUTELY! A crushing win for England would seem appropriate, but I'll happily take a narrow win too! It'll be interesting to see the 2 newbies in action and I'm expecting Kwawaja tobe a flop! England A had the measure of him - so he'll struggle against the main men? However the wicket might be slow enough and all the batters might score some runs in the first innings. We'll see. It'll be interesting to see what effect Clark can make on this lacklustre Aussie side. Should be a great test match. England have a few selectoriial dilemmas to solve with all their bowling attack looking primed and ready. I'd give Colly a break and give Morgan a chance to do some Aussie bashing and maybe Panesar deserves a go with Swan and 3 quicks? COME ON ENGLAND!!!

  • POSTED BY on | January 2, 2011, 16:21 GMT

    @tjsimonsen ... wow, that's really great piece of information. When was the last time when England won against India in a test series (home or away)? Winning (or squaring) against 4th (not 5th my bad) ranked team doesn't prepare for the battle against 1st ranked team. Excuse No. 2 (for loosing in India): Toss in India matters a lot.

  • POSTED BY Masterrulz on | January 2, 2011, 15:33 GMT

    Dears Defenitly aussie will loose fifth test because aussie they dont have batsmen and bowlers they should be hold aussie team for 3 years and wait for the coming good players

  • POSTED BY Biggus on | January 2, 2011, 12:39 GMT

    @5wombats-Aaaaargh! 1981! Man I still remember that like it was yesterday. Like watching a train wreck in slow motion that was. I kept on hoping I'd wake up and find it was all a dream. It's series like 1981 that makes one a little cautious with one's predictions.

  • POSTED BY on | January 2, 2011, 12:22 GMT

    oops in my earlier post I would like to make a correction: India did win a series in England in the summer of 2007 . So, when India plays England this summer in England and if they win, then they are undisputedly the better team.That should be a cracker of a series.And Hope India do set their record straight in SA: they have had a good start SA 61/2.

  • POSTED BY Ghazanfarr on | January 2, 2011, 11:39 GMT

    Dear Rickey , please take rest , its much necessory for you as for australia. but remamber, you have been lose ashes , if your name will write in most successful captain as for as most worst captain , how it is intersting this situeation, that a player is successfull captain as for as worst as compared by others.

  • POSTED BY 5wombats on | January 2, 2011, 11:37 GMT

    @Biggus; I love it! if I were going off to the funny farm I'd pack the 1981 series..... Guys - this could be a useful toss to win; forecast for first 2 days is ify and the pitch (at the moment) is greenish - like the MCG. Completely agree that Johnson central to Aus hopes - but, honestly - I think England have 4 in form and proven bowlers and even if Johnson fires there is no Harris to back him up at the other end. Beer could be effective...? Don't know but I would think that unlikely. Khawaja - well - the reception committee will be waiting for him..... Aus would be silly to play Bollinger - but Hilfenhaus is no better. I don't rate Siddle - but he'll probably go and take 10 wickets now that I've said that..... This is a tough one for Clarke.

  • POSTED BY rayl on | January 2, 2011, 11:24 GMT

    I THINK AUSTRALIA WILL BOUNCE BACK IN SYDNEY HUMILIATING DEFEATS WILL GET THEIR CONFINDENCE DOWN BUT THEY WOULD GET MORE ANGRIER AND I THINK THEY WILL BE UP TO THE CHALLENGE THE KEY FOR AUS TO WIN THE MATCH IS THEY HAVE TO MAKE A HUGE FIRST INNINGS SCORE ANOTHER THING IS THAT THEY CANT HAVE ANY BATSMAN NOT CHIPPING IN AT ALL THE REASON AUS LOST IN MELBOURNE IS THEY BATTED VERY POOR IN THE FIRST INNINGS ALTHOUGH THERE FIRST INNINGS WASNT GOOD THERE 2ND INNINGS WASNT GOOD AS WELL THATS WHY AUS HAVE TO BAT VERY WELL TO WIN THE TEST MATCH THERE WILL BE RAIN FORECASTED ON THE FIRST FOUR DAYS IT WILL BE A SUNNY FINAL DAY LETS HOPE THE AUSSIES WIN AND WIN BY A BIG MARGIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • POSTED BY on | January 2, 2011, 11:23 GMT

    If former players like Darren Gough make statements that England is the best team and will beat India everyday, it does not make a real difference. Has anybody from the current team management or the media said anything like that ?and going by the same token McGrath had said Australia would win this Ashes 5-0

  • POSTED BY jonesy2 on | January 2, 2011, 10:23 GMT

    worst preview i have seen ever

  • POSTED BY hyclass on | January 2, 2011, 10:13 GMT

    Beer may not play in Sydney. There isnt another test until august in Sri Lanka. That would allow a convenient silence to accrue. His lack of any meaningful credentials in the interim might see him vanish into the spinners night. Australias' fabled,"Fair go"is being threatened by a cricketing hierarchy whose decision making staggers from scandalous to deranged. It reflects the behaviour that many Australians have endured from governments and authority over more than a decade. One whistfully reflects upon a time when a spade was a spade and not a productivity implementation device. Each of us is held to account for our actions and often far beyond. I dont believe anyone thinks that our sporting icons and institutions should be exempt. Their deeds and behaviour are there to lift us momentarily out of our morass and extol our virtues in battle. We celebrate and reinforce our identity through them. I have seen nothing in 2 years in our cricketers that would compel me to raise a glass.

  • POSTED BY tjsimonsen on | January 2, 2011, 9:35 GMT

    Well, I can certainly understand why the Indian supporters feel right on top of the world (and wont allow any other to aspire to feel the same). Afterall who wouldn't feel incredible bossy if their team had just trashed the world beaters NZ 1-0 in a three tests series at home??

  • POSTED BY Okakaboka on | January 2, 2011, 9:00 GMT

    @oneteam YES...you are right! Hand them back England....We'll pick a team from all the other states and if you beat that team...then YES....You can say you have beaten Australia. Guess what?....England couldn't beat Victoria.....So can you imagine what will happen! Hilditch & Co has strangled Australian Cricket!!!

  • POSTED BY boom1000 on | January 2, 2011, 8:24 GMT

    If England really wants to win the series they should drop Collingwood and strengthen their bowling unit by including Finn, and let Bresnan take Collingwood position. Bresnan is reasonably a good batsman he will at least score what Collingwood is doing now but the advantage would be as a bonus who can take wickets. Good luck England I would really be happy if you could win the series and end Australians dominance.

  • POSTED BY oneteam on | January 2, 2011, 8:15 GMT

    Reading a good book by Matty Hayden, in it he talks about this "myth" that when NSW is strong so is Australia, I am over the selectors always picking players from NSW and forgetting the other states.... On the positive note Australia hasn't lost this series NSW has.....

  • POSTED BY Biggus on | January 2, 2011, 8:12 GMT

    This will be the first time in history that Australians will be hoping that "Beer goes off". Khawaja, the non-drinker, will start with Beer. If they win they may even celebrate with Bollinger since the test is in Sydney. Better that than our 'Victoria Bitter' experience in Melbourne. I promise to stop now.

  • POSTED BY on | January 2, 2011, 8:09 GMT

    @sumeer kumar: aus are ranked 4th not 5th. And if India can blame losing the centurion test on toss, surely England can blame it on doctored spinning pitches... I don't think they will though because 1) they admit if they play badly like all other top 5 teams except India and 2) they have swann( yes I know he did not perfor too well back on his last tour but he has improved by leaps and bounds since then and is ranked 2nd in the world)

  • POSTED BY on | January 2, 2011, 8:08 GMT

    Bit of a blinkered comment by Pranav25. Last time England played India was in Dec 2008 in India under the leadership of KP. They lost the series 1-0. Following the KP - Moores saga they toured West Indies and lost 1-0.

    Since then England have played 4 series at home and 2 away (excluding the current Ashes series) of which they have won 5 and drawn one series. The drawn series being vs SA in SA. During this period they have won 12 tests and lost only 3.

    How they can be called impotent is beyond me. Time will tell seeing that India will be in England from July onwards. I predict an easy series win for England.

    No, I'm not from England, I'm South African and hate to see England do well but one must be objective. Currently they have a very strong unit. They may not have any real superstars like Botham or Flintoff but they have a mental strength that I've never observed in previous England teams. Write them off at your own peril.

  • POSTED BY vichan on | January 2, 2011, 8:04 GMT

    Funny to read all these Indians complaining about England having an ambition to be number 1 in the future. What other goal should ANY Test side have, I wonder? No-one in the England camp, nor the media, has said that England are number 1. The only things I have heard and read is about this success in Australia being a stepping stone towards achieving that goal, NOT that the goal has been reached already. I think many of the Indian readers are either misreading or misunderstanding this statement of ambition. Chill guys... What's the problem? Not worried, are you...?

  • POSTED BY Biggus on | January 2, 2011, 7:57 GMT

    England should win but you never can tell. As an Australian supporter I'm a bit ambivalent on us winning or losing in Sydney. We're not getting the Ashes back this time anyway and sometimes a team needs to get hammered before the powers that be are inclined to,as they are fond of saying in the footy codes, "Take a good, hard look at themselves". I really can't follow much of the selectors thinking though. Maybe they're spot on and I'm just going senile, but I just don't know. I'm looking forward to seeing Khawaja have a crack at the big time, and I've got nothing against Beer, but Hauritz and O'Keefe must be wondering if they haven't inadvertently parked in Ponting or Hilditch's reserved spot at some point. Oh well, if I find it all too depressing I'll just have to watch some highlights of the 74/75 series-that always seems to cheer me up, and if I am in fact going senile I may as enjoy the trip.

  • POSTED BY Chris_Howard on | January 2, 2011, 7:24 GMT

    Canwe stop with the silly "Twenty-four years ago at this very ground, the seeds of Australia's renaissance were sown" which is meant to give us some sort of ridiculous hope that if we win in Sydney it could be a new golden era with this team. The facts are, that in that Test Asutralia made 3 changes from Melbourne and none of them had long careers. And the team that regained the Ashes in England was quite similar to the team in Melbourne. The seeds weren't sown in that SCG Test, it's bunk. The seeds were sown in that series by investing in youth like Marsh, Boon, Jones, Waugh, McDermott etc. If we had've started the rebuilding process after the last Ashes loss, we might have a team by now that you could see as the future. Instead, we have a team that will mostly be gone by the next Ashes.

  • POSTED BY smudgeon on | January 2, 2011, 7:10 GMT

    Good to see Khawaja getting his chance. Shame about Harris, he was doing well. I don't see Australia beating England, but they've got an opportunity to try and find some form at least. I'd really like to see Hilf take a few wickets in Sydney, he bowled well in Melbourne without a lot of luck.

  • POSTED BY Pranav25 on | January 2, 2011, 6:33 GMT

    Even with all of your imported players, English team is impotent to beat either India or South Africa. If the Australians had included the retired Shane Warne and Matt Haden the current team with inexperience/out of form team would have thrashed the Cocky Poms' ( English) team....Go OZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzz

  • POSTED BY Pranav25 on | January 2, 2011, 6:26 GMT

    England will loose the final test match or it will be a draw.... as they are not use to success their hangover will soon disappear...

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | January 2, 2011, 5:57 GMT

    I couldn't see any real reason for dropping Hilf for Bollinger, who took 1-130 in his only test this series, especially since Bolly might create rough for Swann to work with outside the right-handers' off stump. Finn's an excellent young bowler, but in the conditions, and with his better batting, Bresnan's the safer choice. However, it really all comes down to whether Johnson can bowl as he did in Perth. If he can, Australia have a shot; but if the wicket really is slow and low, England should be able to cope much better than they did at the WACA. If Johnson bowls badly, how do Australia take 20 wickets? Beer's last outing (December 17-19, when he took 0-52 in 11 overs) doesn't indicate he's in great form and this is not only his test debut, it's the first time he has bowled at Sydney. Remind me, why was he picked? Ramesh, Bracken played his last test in 2005 and hasn't played any form of cricket this season. He took 12 test wickets @42 in his career- hardly fantastic.

  • POSTED BY on | January 2, 2011, 5:46 GMT

    It is strange, English team is talking about No. 1 spot in test cricket though they have just beaten (or squared) with 5th ranking team (Australia). I'm waiting for the excuses from English team when they tour India. No. 1 excuse is that Indian tracks are turning tracks which favors Indians but they knew it for more than 50 years and still not prepared for it.

  • POSTED BY Seers on | January 2, 2011, 5:20 GMT

    I agree with Henrik. The bowling options are atrocious. Bollinger suffered in his comeback test in Adelaide in oppressive heat and prefect bating conditions. I admit he did not look match fit but it's not like any of the other bowlers did any good. My point is that apart from Adelaide Bollinger has been our best and most consistent bowler over the past 12 months. With the selectors refusing to pick Stuart Clark, Bollinger should be the first picked. Hilfenhaus has been incredibly ineffective in every match he's played, hence his poor average in this series and overall. He is a good domestic bowler, but not good enough for an international starting line up. Siddle has bowlede well in two sessions of the series but has also been ineffective for most of the series. Johnson as always can only be relied upon 1 out of every 6 or so spells. He needs good bowlers around him. Bollinger for one, but it was also time to try Copeland, McKay, Swan and/or George in this series.

  • POSTED BY on | January 2, 2011, 5:00 GMT

    Australia has been on a decline ever since their greats Mcgrath, Warne, Gilchrist, Hayden and co retired. They have not attempted at rebuilding since that would have led to Pontings career drawing to a close. England who is under the illusion that they have beaten the best are sadly under a false illusion. The best as of now is undoubtedly India and South Africa who have the complete teams with any of the playing 11 able to turn a match and without beating either of them for England would mean that the cpveted no 1 spot remains as rightly said by A.Miller a speck in the desert. People crow about how India cannot win abroad... the last 5 years has seen India able to do that and would have also won/drawn the series against australia in 2007-2008 had the sydney test been played/judged rightly. My Pointer to all the other Cricketing nations is how many matched have u beaten India (No1 today) in India. India remains the Final frontier guys. Beat I in I and u r no 1.

  • POSTED BY on | January 2, 2011, 4:54 GMT

    Aussies will stroll this final test match.

  • POSTED BY hyclass on | January 2, 2011, 4:49 GMT

    I dont see this test as being played for honour. Ricky played the last test with a badly broken finger because he knew he would be dropped. Wheres the honour in that? Worse, the so called coaching staff let him. Hes failed as a batsman for the last 4 years, but its the insipid performances of he and the team over the last 2 years that have magnified it. While i agree that the first classing batting pool is shallow, with Ferguson and Marsh lucky to get a game for their very weak state sides, I wonder how David Hussey is continually overlooked. Who cares which state he plays for. Im sick of that partisan rubbish and want a strong national team. His average of 56 with 40 centuries at 71 runs per 100 balls is better than anyone in the national team by far. It should see him in any test side in the world. Stuff the so called rebuilding BS. This team WAS the rebuilding side of 2 years ago. Look what those in charge have done with it. Pick players for today and win some bloody respect.

  • POSTED BY deedas5 on | January 2, 2011, 4:23 GMT

    Eoin Morgan should be given a chance by dropping Collingwood for atleast one last match. Collingwood is not in form. If provided a chance, Eoin Morgan would certainly score a century in Sydney test. ECB, please think over it!!! Morgan is a real star in England camp!!!

  • POSTED BY Mannix16 on | January 2, 2011, 4:19 GMT

    yeah what happend to bracken? what happened to stuart clark too? they should also def. bring symonds back in no matter what he behaves like haha

    but am i missing something here? michael beer has first class bowling average of 40+ and his last first class game, he had 0-52 at almost 5 an over.... why is he replacing harris?

  • POSTED BY on | January 2, 2011, 3:58 GMT

    why are the selectors persisting with beer and not recalling hauritz? The only reason i can see is that the selectors are too proud to admit they were wrong, what a shame

  • POSTED BY cricdick on | January 2, 2011, 3:38 GMT

    I wish all the best to Kwaja as a wonderful batsman originally from Pakistan. I also congratulate Australlia for allowing him this opportunity. I also wish Pakitan too can allow players of minorities and Pakistanis of foreign origin ( if there are any ) can give similar opportunties in Pakistan. We know so many wonderful pakistanis playing for foreign countries under great opportunities and Pakistanis like me take a tremendous pride in them. Good Luck Kwaja.

  • POSTED BY on | January 2, 2011, 3:20 GMT

    the dayz are over fo d aussies......play whoever ya wish to,ENGLISH music will hurt the aussies..........AUSSIE AUSSIE AUSSIE,BAH BAH BAH....

  • POSTED BY Ozcricketwriter on | January 2, 2011, 2:04 GMT

    Probable is to leave out Australia's best bowler Doug Bollinger???????????? CRAZY!

  • POSTED BY on | January 2, 2011, 1:26 GMT

    will be backing Aussies first time..i think beer will surprise many...and Clark usually plays well when he captains, and when he scores a hundred mostly Australia wins.. England is bound to be complacent and as usual, their media is talking a lot, not gonna help them..an overachieved team, soon to be brought back to ground by another lackluster team with a turn around in fortune..

  • POSTED BY Trickstar on | January 2, 2011, 1:06 GMT

    @landl47 Yes, I agree, if there was one match I thought we had the best chance of winning, it's SCG. I'm not sure what Strauss will do if he wins the toss, he might like to use Swanny last on the pitch, so maybe he'll bat first.Then again he'll fancy the seamers first up on the pitch , so it's a hard call.

  • POSTED BY mariofan97 on | January 2, 2011, 0:51 GMT

    sydney test team SHOULD be 1. Watson 2. Hughes/Marsh 3. Khawaja 4. Clarke 5. Hussey 6. Haddin 7. Smith 8. Johnson 9. Siddle 10. Beer 11. Bollinger 12. Hilfenhaus/Hauritz

  • POSTED BY BlueyCollar on | January 2, 2011, 0:33 GMT

    England should play Finn as much as they can. He will be a great fast bowler. Despite Bresnans efforts in Melb he is just making up the numbers. Aussies should give Beer a chance, you never know. I think the Aussie quicks should mix up their pace a bit. All the English batsmen, especially trott seem to play across the line and work the ball to the on side. If you can deceive them with a slower / quicker full ball they may be prone to LBW, bowled or get a leading edge. They should bowl 4 or 5 stock balls an over "to their field" and 1 or 2 variation balls, (Bouncers, yorkers, slower balls or full and wide outside off) to a predetermined, batsman specific plan in an attempt to get their wicket.

  • POSTED BY on | January 2, 2011, 0:22 GMT

    this man need s a break from his career. he is just gone paranoid to win ashes and he is putting his very best career on risk, he must end up his cricket now and have respectful ending of his career

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2011, 23:42 GMT

    Johnson, Siddle, Hilfenhaus... ...unless Beer takes at least ten on debut, there's a very real chance/risk that Australia won't be able to take all 20 English wickets. Not since Allan Border in 1985 has an Australian captain had such a dearth of talent at his disposal, so anything but an England win is a tremendous achievement for Michael Clarke. Best of luck, Mr Clarke, sir!

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | January 1, 2011, 23:19 GMT

    I'm looking forward to a good game. Although I don't predict the results of individuaL games, before the series started I felt that England would probably have their best chance of winning at Sydney. A fairly slow wicket, but with swing and spin, seems to tick all the right boxes for England's bowlers, and those are familiar conditions for the batsmen as well. Australia has gone from a team which was not only experienced but fairly old to one that is inexperienced and young. Katich, North, Ponting and Harris, all over 30, are out and Hughes, Khawaja, Smith and Beer are in- two debutants and two in their early 20s. Clarke's experienced players (Watson, Hussey, Haddin and Johnson) are going to have to do well for Australia to have a chance. It will be interesting to see what the captain winning the toss will do- neither side batting first has made 300 yet. England might want to field first again, since they won't fear Beer and Smith too much in the 4th innings. Let's get it on!

  • POSTED BY ell_bee on | January 1, 2011, 23:16 GMT

    Agree with Jack Maclean its time for Hifen-mouse to carry the drinks and then return to grade cricket where he will terrorise the under14's. Surely this is Clarke's last chance to do something with the bat. Dont forget that these guys are on big money and this 11 come from a poulation of over 20 million. Must be plenty of players out there not only hungry for a spot in this side but also would welcome getting match fees like Ponting of $2700 a day.

  • POSTED BY RameshSubramaniam on | January 1, 2011, 23:13 GMT

    Where is Bracken? Once he was a fantastic bowler. Suddenly disappeared.

  • POSTED BY hyclass on | January 1, 2011, 23:05 GMT

    If the last two years has demonstrated anything about this group of australian players, its that they lack the resolve that has long characterised australian cricket. I often refer to them as paycheque players-good for a 40 or 50 to save their spot when the criticism becomes deafening. When will journalists and the cricketing public come to terms with this now being a highly paid professional sport. Allusions to the state of australian cricket 25 years ago fail to comprehend the vast morphing that has taken place. Centres of excellence, youth squads, the vast coaching entourages, video analysts, health and fitness advisers and talent identification represent high levels of support. Cricket has become a high paying product, sold in increments varying from 5 day tests to 20/20 matches. Rumuneration is extremely rewarding for the individuals involved. In return, they are expected to prepare themselves to the highest standards and be ready when required. At this, australia has failed.

  • POSTED BY Zahidsaltin on | January 1, 2011, 22:38 GMT

    Go Australia GO. Khawaja is gona be a new star.

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2011, 22:21 GMT

    Surely Australia will have to bring Bollinger back on his home turf. Hilfenhaus has been less than ordinary this series. You can kepp him in the team if they're winning and he's supporting but they're losing and he's not taking wickets. Time for a change

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  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2011, 22:21 GMT

    Surely Australia will have to bring Bollinger back on his home turf. Hilfenhaus has been less than ordinary this series. You can kepp him in the team if they're winning and he's supporting but they're losing and he's not taking wickets. Time for a change

  • POSTED BY Zahidsaltin on | January 1, 2011, 22:38 GMT

    Go Australia GO. Khawaja is gona be a new star.

  • POSTED BY hyclass on | January 1, 2011, 23:05 GMT

    If the last two years has demonstrated anything about this group of australian players, its that they lack the resolve that has long characterised australian cricket. I often refer to them as paycheque players-good for a 40 or 50 to save their spot when the criticism becomes deafening. When will journalists and the cricketing public come to terms with this now being a highly paid professional sport. Allusions to the state of australian cricket 25 years ago fail to comprehend the vast morphing that has taken place. Centres of excellence, youth squads, the vast coaching entourages, video analysts, health and fitness advisers and talent identification represent high levels of support. Cricket has become a high paying product, sold in increments varying from 5 day tests to 20/20 matches. Rumuneration is extremely rewarding for the individuals involved. In return, they are expected to prepare themselves to the highest standards and be ready when required. At this, australia has failed.

  • POSTED BY RameshSubramaniam on | January 1, 2011, 23:13 GMT

    Where is Bracken? Once he was a fantastic bowler. Suddenly disappeared.

  • POSTED BY ell_bee on | January 1, 2011, 23:16 GMT

    Agree with Jack Maclean its time for Hifen-mouse to carry the drinks and then return to grade cricket where he will terrorise the under14's. Surely this is Clarke's last chance to do something with the bat. Dont forget that these guys are on big money and this 11 come from a poulation of over 20 million. Must be plenty of players out there not only hungry for a spot in this side but also would welcome getting match fees like Ponting of $2700 a day.

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | January 1, 2011, 23:19 GMT

    I'm looking forward to a good game. Although I don't predict the results of individuaL games, before the series started I felt that England would probably have their best chance of winning at Sydney. A fairly slow wicket, but with swing and spin, seems to tick all the right boxes for England's bowlers, and those are familiar conditions for the batsmen as well. Australia has gone from a team which was not only experienced but fairly old to one that is inexperienced and young. Katich, North, Ponting and Harris, all over 30, are out and Hughes, Khawaja, Smith and Beer are in- two debutants and two in their early 20s. Clarke's experienced players (Watson, Hussey, Haddin and Johnson) are going to have to do well for Australia to have a chance. It will be interesting to see what the captain winning the toss will do- neither side batting first has made 300 yet. England might want to field first again, since they won't fear Beer and Smith too much in the 4th innings. Let's get it on!

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2011, 23:42 GMT

    Johnson, Siddle, Hilfenhaus... ...unless Beer takes at least ten on debut, there's a very real chance/risk that Australia won't be able to take all 20 English wickets. Not since Allan Border in 1985 has an Australian captain had such a dearth of talent at his disposal, so anything but an England win is a tremendous achievement for Michael Clarke. Best of luck, Mr Clarke, sir!

  • POSTED BY on | January 2, 2011, 0:22 GMT

    this man need s a break from his career. he is just gone paranoid to win ashes and he is putting his very best career on risk, he must end up his cricket now and have respectful ending of his career

  • POSTED BY BlueyCollar on | January 2, 2011, 0:33 GMT

    England should play Finn as much as they can. He will be a great fast bowler. Despite Bresnans efforts in Melb he is just making up the numbers. Aussies should give Beer a chance, you never know. I think the Aussie quicks should mix up their pace a bit. All the English batsmen, especially trott seem to play across the line and work the ball to the on side. If you can deceive them with a slower / quicker full ball they may be prone to LBW, bowled or get a leading edge. They should bowl 4 or 5 stock balls an over "to their field" and 1 or 2 variation balls, (Bouncers, yorkers, slower balls or full and wide outside off) to a predetermined, batsman specific plan in an attempt to get their wicket.

  • POSTED BY mariofan97 on | January 2, 2011, 0:51 GMT

    sydney test team SHOULD be 1. Watson 2. Hughes/Marsh 3. Khawaja 4. Clarke 5. Hussey 6. Haddin 7. Smith 8. Johnson 9. Siddle 10. Beer 11. Bollinger 12. Hilfenhaus/Hauritz