The whitewash is no longer up for grabs by Australia after England’s resistance in Sydney, but a 4-0 Ashes win would be a fine start to Pat Cummins‘ captaincy (with a little help from Steven Smith). For Joe Root, it is a chance to build on the fight shown at the SCG before the tour is picked through back home and futures are debated. A victory would be pretty remarkable after what happened in Melbourne and could yet have a bearing on who stays and goes.
Both the teams won’t have to wait long before they are next in Test action providing everything goes ahead as planned, with Australia set to tour Pakistan in March and England heading to the West Indies. From a cricket point of view, Root is the one with much to ponder ahead of that provided he stays in the job, while all eyes will be on whether there are any withdrawals from Australia’s trip.
(Last five matches; most recent first)
In the spotlight
It has been a relatively quiet series by Steven Smith‘s high standards with an average of 36.16, his lowest in an Ashes series since his first appearance – as a lower-order batter and spinner – in 2010-11. If he doesn’t reach three figures in Hobart, it will be his first Ashes without a hundred since the contest at the SCG 11 years ago. The Bellerive Oval is also the only ground in Australia where Smith has played more than a single Test without a century.
Harris has lost his place to accommodate the in-form Khawaja but was assured by Cummins that he remains in Australia’s plans. Travis Head returns to the middle order after recovering from Covid-19. The hosts will decide on the pace attack on the morning of the game, but things were looking promising for Scott Boland after he came through training.
Australia (probable): 1 David Warner, 2 Usman Khawaja, 3 Marnus Labuschagne, 4 Steven Smith, 5 Travis Head, 6 Cameron Green, 7 Alex Carey (wk), 8 Pat Cummins (capt), 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Jhye Richardson/Scott Boland, 11 Nathan Lyon
England (possible): 1 Rory Burns, 2 Zak Crawley, 3 Dawid Malan, 4 Joe Root (capt), 5 Ben Stokes, 6 Ollie Pope/Jonny Bairstow, 7 Sam Billings (wk), 8 Chris Woakes, 9 Ollie Robinson, 10 Mark Wood, 11 Stuart Broad
Pitch and conditions
The pitch remained green the day before the game but there was some uncertainty as to how it will play. It may need a brave decision at the toss. There are showers forecast on the first two days, but later in the match looks set fair.
Stats and trivia
“There’s a bit of grass. Don’t really know what to expect. Especially in the first few days hopefully there’s a bit of seam, a bit of swing, think it’s going to be a little bit humid. Every pink-ball [Test] feels like there’s a lot of unknowns coming into it, probably more so here not knowing the venue.”
Pat Cummins on conditions in Hobart
“He’s a wonderful player. It was a phenomenal effort. What he managed to achieve last week was truly brilliant, so we need to make sure we keep him quiet as best we can.”
Joe Root on Usman Khawaja’s century-filled comeback
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
(With Inputs from ESPN)
#Present #future #focus #Hobart #slice #Ashes #history