Although they relinquished the urn to Australia in the fourth Test in Manchester, England will be keen to finish the series level with a win in the final game at The Oval and pick up all 24 ICC World Test Championship points available.
England v Australia, 5th Test
The Oval, London
Thursday, 12 September, 11:00am local, 10:00am GMT
The home side have named an unchanged squad for the fifth Test, but may yet need to make changes to the XI. Ben Stokes, whose masterclass at Headingley pulled England out from a tricky situation to give them their only win of the series so far, is set to have a shoulder scan. He picked up an injury at Old Trafford, pulling up in his 11th over, and he didn’t bowl during Australia’s second innings.
If the all-rounder is ruled out or has to play as a specialist batsman, England may bring in Sam Curran or Chris Woakes to boost their bowling, with a batsman making way. While Jason Roy, who was moved down to No.4, ended his lean patch in the Ashes with a gritty performance at Old Trafford, his place remains under pressure.
The Test will also be the last match that Trevor Bayliss, England’s World Cup-winning coach, will be in charge for.
For Australia, off-spinner Nathan Lyon is an injury concern, having split his spinning finger, but coach Justin Langer insisted “he’ll be fine”. The visitors have shuffled their pace attack through the series, and are likely to continue to do so. Pat Cummins, the No.1 bowler on the MRF Tyres ICC Test Rankings for Bowlers, is the only one to have featured in all matches so far, and while Langer is keen to have him in the side to push for a 3-1 series win, he admitted that the workload was “taking a toll”.
Remember the last time
Old Trafford rose in admiration for a Steve Smith masterclass. The former Australia skipper recorded his highest runs tally in a Test, scoring his third Ashes double century, followed by a crucial 82 – his lowest score in the series so far! Cummins then chipped in with four scalps in the England chase, completing an emphatic 185-run victory. The 2-1 series lead was enough for them to retain the Ashes.
Smith has accumulated 671 runs at an astounding average of 134.20 so far, even after missing the third Test and an innings in the second. Cummins has been the best bowler, with 24 scalps.
What they said
Trevor Bayliss, England head coach: “Sometimes you can only be as good as the players you’ve actually got in the team. We’re probably still looking for a number of players to make that XI as strong as it possibly can be.”
Justin Langer, Australia head coach: “If you’re aspiring to be the best you can be, you’ve got to keep getting better to see if you can reach the standards that Steve Smith and Ben Stokes have reached this summer.”
The forecast indicates cloudy conditions for the first, second and fifth days of the Test, while the third and fourth days are set for sunny weather. The good news is that there is no rain predicted throughout the Test. Historically, fast bowlers have thrived at The Oval, with Stuart Broad being the highest Test wicket-taker at the venue among active cricketers.