England vs Australia 5th Test: Preview and Prediction
When it seemed like Bazball will get an upper edge over the traditional test-playing approach, the rain ended England’s hopes of winning the Ashes. Ben Stokes’ men displayed valiant performances in the fourth test, with the bat as well as the ball.
Making a calculated guess, if the match wouldn’t be abandoned, Australia would have given a chasable target to the English cricket team. Thus, the fifth and last match of the series will commence on Thursday.
According to the current equation, the Poms will mainly focus on holding the series onto a 2-2 draw. On the flip side, the Aussies will look forward to winning or just pushing the match into a feasible draw, which will help them land on the podium with the trophy, again.
Moreover, the match will be extremely crucial for both nations as it will affect their position on the 2023-25 World Test Championship table, which is currently led by Pakistan following their win over Sri Lanka.
What have they done so far?
The first test of the 2023 Ashes got off to a blistering start on June 16 at Edgbaston. However, despite giving an extremely tough competition to the Aussies, Ben Stokes’ side lost the match by two wickets following a decent ninth-wicket partnership by skipper Pat Cummins and spinner Nathan Lyon.
Entering the second match at Lord’s with a 1-0 deficit, England decided to bowl first. Steve Smith and Travis Head helped the Kangaroos score 416 in the first inning. In reply, Ben Duckett’s 98-run innings powered England to 325 runs. Australia came on the ground confident but Stuart Broad had other plans as the experienced fast bowler picked up the prominent wickets of Usman Khawaja, Travis Head, and Pat Cummins, which restricted the Aussies to 279.
Chasing 371, the English top-order was annihilated by the pace of Starc and Cummins. Being 45/4, Stokes and Duckett somehow held the thread and kept going in the narrow tunnel toward the win. However, with the wicket of the English captain, who scored 155 runs, Australia successfully managed to dodge the bullet and make the series 2-0.
The third match came up with another set of surprises which made the series between the two cricket powerhouses more intense. Mark Wood turned the tables with his bowling prowess as he took five wickets in the first innings. Consequently, just after 60 overs, Australia’s innings came to an end with the scoreboard reading 263.
However, the hosts also had to go through a similar shock when Pat Cummins traumatized their batting order by dismissing six batters. Not being able to capitalize on the opportunity of taking a huge lead, the Poms got all out on 237. Nevertheless, the Aussies failed to give an improved performance in the second inning as 227 was the best they can get. Chasing a target of 251, Harry Brook guided England to their first win in the 2023 Ashes and kept their hopes alive.
A lot of expectations were bound to the fourth test as it was capable of adding another layer of excitement to the ongoing test series. Australia got off to a slow start, but with half-centuries from Mitchell Marsh and Marnus Labuschagne, they summed up their first innings on 317 runs.
Nevertheless, scoring 189 runs off just 182 deliveries, Zak Crawley gave his best performance in the most crucial moment for the hosts. In addition to that, five other batters of the line-up also completed their respective half-centuries and England scored a whopping score of 592 runs in their first innings, taking a lead of 275 runs.
Trying to lessen the deficit, Labuschagne scored 111 runs but he ended up losing his wicket against Joe Root. Thus, as the match started leaning in the favor of the hosts, the rain poured over the Old Trafford Cricket Stadium. Hence, the match ended up as a draw and Australia will retain the Ashes.
Head to Head Record
Since playing their test match in 1876/77, the rivalry between England and Australia has come a long way in modern-day cricket. The two nations were squared off against each other in the prestigious series a total of 344 times in three different centuries.
Consequently, including the ongoing test series, the Australian cricket team has a considerable lead over the Poms as they have recorded 142 victories in all of their matches.
On the other side, England has recorded 109 wins and the remaining 93 matches have ended as a draw. The last Ashes series took place in 2021 in Australia, and it was won by the hosts 4-0. Moreover, the Kangaroos are also leading over England 2-1 in the current scenario.
Zak Crawley (England): The 25-year-old was initially criticized for his selection as an opening batter in the English line-up for the Ashes. Thus, after his awe-inspiring 189-run innings, he deserves all the praise too. Zak Crawley was constantly giving reliable performances in all the matches, however, his attempts were getting overshadowed by other batters.
Nevertheless, he had his moment in the last test and it’s expected that he’ll carry on the same momentum in the last match of the series too. Looking at the stats, leapfrogging the likes of Usman Khawaja and Ben Stokes, the 25-year-old is the top scorer of the series with 385 runs with an average of 55. Moreover, he also acquires a batting strike rate of 89.95, thus, the opening batter can haunt Australia in the final test of the 2023 Ashes.
Marnus Labuschagne (Australia): When it comes to the longest format of cricket, the Australian batting line-up has two pillars, that are, Usman Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne. Khawaja started the 2023 Ashes in brilliant form, however, after a couple of matches, his performance started diminishing as he looked hesitant at a few junctures.
Thus, realizing the problem, Labuschagne has taken the role of leading the Aussies in batting. He has scored a total of 306 runs in the series yet with an average of 38.25 and his strike rate has been around 52, which proves his ability to get settled on the ground. Thus, England will be in huge trouble if Marnus Labuschagne manages to get his hold right in the fifth test.
England: Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Moeen Ali, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes ©, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Stuart Broad, Ollie Robinson
Australia: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Mitchell Marsh, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins ©, Mitchell Starc, Scott Boland
Rain spoiled England’s party as the fourth test match of the series got washed out. As a result, Australia will retain the Ashes. However, England can potentially stop the Kangaroos from winning the series. Considering all the odds and the current forms of the sides, Ben Stokes’ men have a significant chance to ace over the Aussies and draw the series.