Sunday, 2 January 2011

Australia v England, 5th Test Match at the Sydney Cricket Ground

There were fireworks and a party that went long into the night in Sydney to mark the new year. If England can produce some fireworks on the pitch (KP a 150+ and Jimmy Anderson 6-50) then England can party long into the night to celebrate a series win.

Turn the clock back 24 years and you arrive at the last time England won the Ashes in Australia. Thatcher was still destroying Britain and I was still in school. The Internet not even heard of.

The Ashes have already been retained by England (a fine achievement) but an outright series win is what they crave. Before the first test in Brisbane in November I predicted the series would end 2-2. If Australia win that prediction will have been spot on. As it stands I think England will win at the SCG.

Australia's decline from the greatest cricket team ever seen of the last 10-15 years to the rabble they are now has been incredible to witness. However, this is not to take anything away from England. They have been methodical in their approach to everything and (apart from a blip in Perth) have executed their game plans with stunning precision.

The toss could prove crucial. Both sides will want to bat first. Australia will not want to face Swann on the 4th/5th days on a turning wicket. Australia give a debut to Michael Beer. Nothing surely for England to fear from a spinner with only 7 first class matches?

Michael Clarke skippers the home side in Ponting's absence. Permanent or temporary? Only time will tell. The decline of Ricky Ponting from the world's greatest batsman to a number three that almost can't get a run is sad. If he retires let him be remembered for the highs (many) compared to the lows.

England will surely field the same eleven. A last hurrah for Paul Collingwood? Probably. So it is a simple message to Andrew Strauss. Win the toss and bat. In five days time I expect England to be celebrating. If they can sink Michael Beer over the next few days on the pitch they can sink a few celebratory ones too after.

So as Bumble would say "start the car" and make sure there is room in the glove compartment for the chrished little urn.

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