Can England create history and make it 4-0? This seems to be the main question now. Will England be true to their word and look to create history? Or will a leggy England turn up in body, but not in mind and get beat?
And what about the Aussies, can they really recover from the crushing blow of Durham? Or are they now totally shot and just looking to get the tour over with, and back home?
The odds seem to suggest most think England will win, but without the conviction of earlier in the series. Ashes betting odds sees England at 11/10, The Draw at 9/4, and Australia are 11/4.
England have been odds on at the start of most (maybe all) Test matches so far this series. So a drift to odds against suggests cricket betting punters aren’t totally convinced by them.
I see it going one of two ways with England, as the shackles are basically off as there is now no pressure of a drawn series, England may well go out and play with freedom and flare, and destroy Australia. Or they may just turn up, feeling tired and lethargic, go through the motions, and get beat.
As for the Aussies, well I don’t know where to start. I don’t really want to hammer them on here and then have to watch them beat a complacent England going through the motions, but what on earth are they doing with their team selection?
Bringing in James Faulkner for Usman Khawaja, what’s that all about. I get having a look at James Faulkner, but at the expense of a batsman?
Their batting is clearly their weak point, so how do they strengthen it by dropping a batsmen for another all rounder (to go with ShaneWatson and Steve Smith), and moving Brad Haddin up to number 6? What’s that all about, and what does it do for the confidence of Usman Khawaja and Phil Hughes?
If the two are to be jettisoned permanently after this series, and Australia have already decided this, and have other batsmen (not on this tour) in mind, then fair enough. If not, then it is more chopping and changing, and more undermining players, as what does Phil Hughes have to do to get a recall to this batting unit?
Mitchell Starc is back again, he must feel like he’s been doing the hokey-cokey on this tour. And speaking of the hokey-cokey, Shane Watson has got another move in the batting line up, with a promotion (yes, a promotion) up to number 3….. ahead of Khawaja and Hughes.
I could be proven wrong, but I’m afraid as it stands, I really just don’t get it.
The pitch is supposed to be another dry dust bowl expected to turn later in the Test match. Although there is a rumour that it is supposed to be quicker and bouncier than usual. Looking at the pitches Andy Flower has had prepared so far this series, a quick and bouncy pitch seems a bit unlikely to me.
Even allowing for a change to the pitch with the series over and the expected return of Chris Tremlett, will the groundsman have had time to readjust from what he has already been preparing?
The last 5 matches at The Oval have seen results. Some of them have been down to teams needing to force a result, and some have been because teams are already on the plane home. This makes getting a feel for how the wicket behaves more difficult, because conventional cricket methods (when to declare, etc) can go out the window.
Onto the weather, and the forecast looks decent, although there is potential thunder storms predicted, but overall I don’t expect much play to be lost.
From my betting perspective, I suspect a flat batting pitch, so I would want to see how it behaves before I have a bet. There seems to be a bit too much uncertainty about the pitch as things stand. I also want to see who wins the toss before getting involved, as it could be a problem for whoever has to bat fourth on this wicket.