About the Match
The last test of the Ashes 2017/18 will be played in Sydney and the fans will be hoping for a better contest than they witnessed in Melbourne. Of course, we are talking about a contest between the bat and ball here, something that was hopelessly one-sided on a dead pitch that the MCG provided. There is not too much on the line for either team as the series has been decided and the whitewash averted, however, an Ashes test is always an opportunity for players to make a name for themselves.
A lot of punts that the Aussie selection panel took have come off brilliantly and they must be credited for that. Shaun Marsh and Mitchell Marsh have both helped Australia stave off defeat and lock down the Ashes in the first three matches. The younger Marsh brother also helped Steve Smith bat out the draw in Melbourne.
Perhaps, some of those selections have covered up the faults that are visible in these Australian teams after just a little digging. The Aussie victory in this Ashes has been built on a battery of fast bowlers but an injury to Mitchell Starc exposed the fact that there not too much in the cupboard.
Jackson Bird may have had a tough test to play at the MCG but there is no denying that he is a definite step down from facing Mitchell Starc. Pat Cummins has also so far managed to get through the test matches without too much trouble although he was a little under the weather for the third test.
If he pulls out of the last test then Australia could be in a similar, tough position again.
Mitchell Marsh will be required to handle much more of the workload in that situation and it will be interesting to see how he fares. In Sydney, where the pitch always provides assistance to the spinners, Ashton Agar has been to the squad as well, but we highly doubt he will play. Nathan Lyon, in great form this series, should be enough to cause havoc at Sydney if the pitch starts to take some turn.
The Australian batting has depended on the ever-increasing brilliance of Steve Smith who has been near invincible. A few good innings from the Marsh brothers and David Warner on the third pitch have been enough to drown the English in runs but the form of Khawaja and Bancroft remains a worry.
A lot of things have come good so far to make this Aussie team better than we think it is. The fact that England also came here with an aging bowling attack helped the hosts a lot.
An Alastair Cook special and some dogged bowling from Stuart Broad was the catalyst for the best English performance we have seen on this tour. It was something that was long overdue but also brought home to light the struggles of this current England team.
The fact that it took a dead pitch and some extraordinary performances from two of the senior most players just to secure a draw should make the English fans fearful of what is to follow. Tom Curran was drafted into the side and though he played with superb determination, he is not the tearaway quick that England is looking for.
It is all but certain that England will be bringing in Mason Crane for either Tom Curran or Moeen Ali in this match. We personally think it is going to be Ali that misses out because the SCG pitch will have some grass on it to keep the pacers interested for the first few days.
Mason Crane is a leg spinner who is yet to cement his place in Hampshire, the county he plays for. He does have some experience playing grade cricket in Sydney where he did extraordinarily well. Can he have the same kind of success in the test arena? We find it hard to believe because he just bowls too many loose balls. The batsmen that he will come up against in this format are not going to let him off the hook or gift him too many easy wickets.
England must believe that they are in with a shot at winning this match if for nothing else then because Australia has been guilty of lowering their intensity in dead rubbers previously. There was a time when the last test match of a decided series was one you could reliably depend on Australia to lose but under Steve Smith, we expect to see a different kind of energy.
This match will also be very crucial for players like Stoneman, Vince, and even Root going forward. HIle the first two will be worried about making the next tour, Root will want to get back to scoring runs and leading from the front otherwise another bad series and he could start to face increased scrutiny as well.
England needs to play out of its skin to beat this Aussie side, who we believe is very beatable. Question is whether the English players well and truly believe it.
Pitch and Conditions
The weather for the final Ashes test is expected to start out nice but gets worse as the match progresses. There is a fifty percent chance of rain on the fifth day and maybe some showers on the fourth day itself.
The pitch will be of great interest to everyone and currently it is sporting a lot of grass but the soil underneath is one that offers something to the spinners. The question both teams will have to answer is whether to go in with one spinner or two.
England played well in the last match but we struggle to see them compete in this match. Australia will be boosted by the return of a fresh Mitchell Starc and that could make all the difference.
Back Australia to win
and finish the Ashes 4-0.