January 3-7, 2016
Start time 1030 local (2330 GMT)
New year, same old story? Maybe, maybe not, for it is worth noting that over the final two days in Melbourne, West Indies put up more fight than they had at any point in the series. If they can bring that to the start of the Sydney Test then the gap between the teams might close up just a little bit. Much like New Zealand earlier in the summer, West Indies took until midway through the second Test before they started to look comfortable in the Australian conditions. At least, their batsmen did. Their bowling has remained lacklustre throughout, and taking the 20 wickets required to win a Test might be a bridge too far, bearing in mind they have so far taken only 10 for the series.
The conditions they will be confronted with in Sydney might be slightly different to the first two Tests, with curator Tom Parker expecting some of the traditional SCG turn. Australia have chosen two spinners with Steve O'Keefe to join Nathan Lyon, but there should also be plenty of runs in the wicket. The Frank Worrell Trophy has already been retained and Australia's task now is to finish off the summer with a 3-0 series win, before they look ahead to ODI matches against India, a Test tour of New Zealand and the World T20. For Jason Holder's men, the next five days in Sydney is a chance to build on what they showed in Melbourne, and display the consistency they crave.
Australia: WWWDW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
West Indies: LLLLL
In the spotlight
will be over 40 by the time Australia next play West Indies in a Test, so this should be his last chance to plunder more gold from the Caribbean. Voges has played four Tests against West Indies for scores of 130*, 37, 269* and 106*, and since he has been dismissed only once he has the incredible average of 542.00 against them. The next highest average by any Test batsman against a single opposition is 293.00, from Jacques Rudolph's two Tests against Bangladesh.
is the only West Indian in the top six run scorers this series, his 214 putting him equal second on the list with Steven Smith. He has stood up in the first innings in both Tests, with 108 in Hobart and 81 at the MCG, and while West Indies again need a strong display from him in Sydney they also require some greater support to allow him to build a really big innings.
Australia's XI has been confirmed, with left-arm spinner O'Keefe to play his second Test in a twin spin attack with Lyon. Peter Siddle was left out after struggling with an ankle problem in Melbourne.
Australia 1 Joe Burns, 2 David Warner, 3 Usman Khawaja, 4 Steven Smith (capt), 5 Adam Voges, 6 Mitchell Marsh, 7 Peter Nevill (wk), 8 Steve O'Keefe, 9 James Pattinson, 10 Josh Hazlewood, 11 Nathan Lyon
Australia's decision to include two spinners might have encouraged West Indies to do the same had legspinner Devendra Bishoo been fit, but he has not recovered from a shoulder injury suffered during training in Melbourne. It is hard to see how Kemar Roach can be retained after his bowling struggles over the first two Tests: his pace and confidence have been down, and he has series figures of 0 for 218. Perhaps the selectors will view this as a chance to see what fast bowler Miguel Cummins has to offer at Test level.
West Indies (possible) 1 Kraigg Brathwaite, 2 Rajendra Chandrika, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Jermaine Blackwood, 6 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 7 Jason Holder (capt), 8 Carlos Brathwaite, 9 Jerome Taylor, 10 Jomel Warrican, 11 Miguel Cummins
Pitch and conditions
Curator Tom Parker said it was a traditional SCG pitch, extremely hard but with a little bit of grass. "I think there will be some turn, the pitch has been turning in the Shield games this year and also during the Sixers matches," Parker said. The forecast is for showers across the first four days, so the teams could be in for more than a few interruptions.
Stats and trivia
- The chasm between the two sides in this series is shown by the average runs per wicket lost: Australia have scored 131.30 to West Indies' 24.31
- The five leading wicket takers in the series are all Australians; Jomel Warrican tops the West Indies list with three at 106.00
- Last time Australia played two specialist spinners in a Sydney Test (not counting Steven Smith's legspin) was 2006, when Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill played together against South Africa
"It's going to spin and it gives us an opportunity now to see Steve and see how he goes. They have bowled well together. Hopefully they can do that this week."
Steven Smith on the inclusion of O'Keefe alongside Lyon
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale