Ashes 2019: 4th Test Preview
Admit it, we all needed a bit of a rest after the Headingley Test Match. I have to agree with Michael Vaughan when he said that Ben Stokes had saved a couple of careers in the England team. A 2-nil deficit would have most certainly seen the end of Jason Roy and potentially Joe Denly. Instead England have switched the two players in the batting order. We all have a degree in hindsight, but surely that was the way to go in the first place?
Instead, after Stokes’ heroics, the series is level at 1-1 with the 4th Test Match at Old Trafford starting on Wednesday. Will Australia pick Mitchell Starc? It’s surprising to most of us that he is yet to bowl a ball in anger on the tour, but his form against the top order isn’t actually that impressive. He was perhaps what they needed in the last hour at Headingley but for 95% of the time, the Australian bowlers have been brilliant throughout the series. If Starc is to play, he will have to replace either Hazlewood, Cummings or Pattinson as there is no way they can replace a batsman in an already flaky line-up. Old Trafford does bounce a little more thank other pitches, and he does offer something a little different, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the team.
England are not the only ones with problems at the top of the order. Steve Smith will return and will certainly bat at number 4. They cannot not pick Marnus Labuschagne who has impressed in Smith’s absence and he will most likely bat at 3. This will mean either Usman Khawaja will miss out or go to the top of the order in place of Marcus Harris.
A defeat, and another failure, will surely see the end of Tim Paine. If there was another captain waiting in the wings, I truly believe that Alex Carey would have played at least one Test Match already. Fortunately for England, this hasn’t been the case. Although there are few better than Tim Pain behind the stumps, he is completely out of his depth batting at number 7 which is putting more pressure in the men above him.
In normal times you would think England have the momentum, however we thought this after Lords and they were rolled for 67. You would hope that the way they batted in the second innings at Headlingley will fill them with confidence that that is the way they can beat Australia. Taking 20 wickets doesn’t seem to be the problem.
Both of my heart and my head are saying England, and it will be much less nerve-wracking seeing Joe Denly face the new ball rather than Jason Roy.
There will always be a chance of rain in Manchester in September, and let’s say it did end in a draw, The Oval Test Match would quite possibly be as big as the World Cup Final for English cricket.