Cricket Australia Items/news/2013/8/21/the-oval-day-one-preview

The Oval day one preview

UPDATED 21 August, 2013 3:15PM AEST | by Ben Hocking and Callum Kanoniuk 20

The thought of seeing the series scoreline read 3-1 instead of 4-0 makes the fifth Test anything but a dead rubber.

Cover points

The first leg of this 10-Test, two-country Ashes series is over, with the Poms taking the honours. But that doesn't make the final Test a dead rubber.

Instead it will set the tone for the return leg in Australia this summer, with both teams looking to pick up where they leave off at The Oval.

For the Aussies the scoreline doesn't exactly do them justice, after being extremely close in two losses, as well as the rain denying an Australian victory at Old Trafford.

The Aussie selectors have again made changes to the XI with James Faulkner and Mitchell Starc coming in for Usman Khawaja and Jackson Bird.

Shane Watson is expected to bat at the revolving No. 3 position while Brad Haddin and Faulkner will come in at six and seven respectively.

The Poms lose Tim Bresnan for this Test match with Chris Tremlett his likely replacement.

The tall Englishman has been part of the squad for the past two Test matches and may have been given a chance at The Oval even if Bresnan hadn't gone down with back problems.

Kevin Pietersen is in some doubt with his persistent knee troubles but he will be given until the very last minute to prove his fitness.

QUICK SINGLE: Faulkner undaunted by batting challenge

On strike

Watson keeps his place in the side after he got through the tour match unscathed, but he is likely to play solely as a batsman, with little reason to risk the all-rounder in the final match of the series.

Starc makes his way back into the side at the expense of Bird.

The NSW left-armer was unlucky to lose his spot after a stunning knock of 66 that batted the Australians into a strong position at Old Trafford.

If he has his radar working this Test as well Australia may have discovered their next Alan Davidson.

Under the lid

Watson appears to have won the raffle to bat at No.3 for this Test, beating out Phil Hughes and Khawaja for the final match.

So far the No.3 batsmen in this series have contributed just 128 runs. It is time for someone to stand up and say they want to make the position their own.

Between the wickets

The Aussies don't have to worry about rain stopping their push for a win in the final Test of the series, with the forecast clear for all five days.

A top temperature of 25 degrees is expected for day one, although there will be some cloud cover about which may help the ball swing.

The Oval pitch is probably the most batsman-friendly pitch the Aussies play on this series, offering the least movement to swing bowlers.

As we've come to expect though, the English pitches have been as dry as Richie Benaud's sense of humour to give as much assistance as possible to Graeme Swann, and there is no reason to expect this wicket to be any different.

Bye the way

England have lost two of their past three Tests at The Oval, with their last win coming against notoriously bad travellers India in 2011.

In the last Test at the ground South Africa won by an innings and 12 runs in one of the most comprehensive Test victories of all time.

Only two South African wickets fell for the entire match, as the Proteas declared their first innings closed at 2-637 with Hashim Amla on 311 not out.

Today's play is dedicated to… Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer.

In 2001 they opened the batting together for the first time at this ground, after Michael Slater was dropped for the fifth and final Test of the series.

They put on a lazy 158 before Hayden fell for 68. Langer went on to make 102 before having to retire hurt after being hit on the noggin while trying to hook Andy Caddick.

It was, as they say, the start of a beautiful friendship.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia

First Posted 21 August, 2013 1:13PM AEST

Commercial Partners