After a thrilling win in Manchester, Australia have successfully retained the Ashes, becoming the first side to do so in England in 18 long years!
The Urn may be secure but there is still a job to do for the Aussies, who will be keen to actually win the series to stamp their dominance over England in Test cricket. The fifth and final Test gets underway on Thursday night from The Oval and we have a full preview and betting tips for the clash below.
It’s not often you can say an Ashes series was won off the bat of a single player, but what Steve Smith has accomplished throughout the series so far warrants that description. After making back to back hundreds in the first Test as Australia won, Smith went on to score 92 in his only knock in the second Test. After losing the third Test with Smith on the sidelines, the star batsman went on to score 211 in the first innings of the fourth Test, followed by a match saving 82 in the second dig to claim another man of the match award.
Smith has now scored a ridiculous 671 runs through just five innings in the series so far, averaging 134.20. With just five innings, Smith has scored more runs than any other player in Test matches in 2019, Ben Stokes sits in second place with 540 runs from 14 innings. Smith will look to cap off arguably the best individual Ashes series by an Australian player in history at The Oval this week.
Marnus Labuschagne has been the unsung hero of the Australian batting line-up and has offered fantastic support to Smith with four scores over 50. The youngster is in fantastic touch at the moment and is great value to go one step further this week.
Not to be forgotten, however, is Australia’s pace attack, which was fantastic in the fourth Test with Pat Cummins picking up seven wickets and Josh Hazlewood claiming six. Cummins has had a dominant series all round, claiming 24 wickets at a ridiculous average of just 17.41. Australia will likely continue their rotation policy in the fifth Test, especially now that the Urn has been secured, look for one of the three quicks to make way for James Pattinson or Peter Siddle.
In both of the matches they have lost,England have taken it into the final few sessions on the fifth day, however, their batting line-up just hasn’t been able to hold up against the Australian attack. Both Jos Buttler and Jason Roy found a little bit of form in the fourth Test but they have had just three partnerships of over 100 runs compared to six for the Australians.
Ben Stokes and Rory Burns are the only two English batsmen to average over 31 runs in the series, while the rest of the top seven in Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Joe Denly, Jason Roy and Jos Buttler have all really struggled.
The English bowling attack has been solid throughout the series, especially spearhead Stuart Broad, who has claimed 19 wickets at a solid average of 26.63. Jofra Archer looked to have run out of steam in the fourth Test after a busy summer of cricket in England and will likely get some rest in favour of Chris Woakes this week.
There’s no doubt that both teams will be giving it their all in the fifth Test. Despite not being able to win the Urn, England will still be keen to win the match and tie up the series to ensure they don’t become the first English side in 18 years to lose a series at home.
Chris Woakes will come back into the side and provide some fresh legs to a pace attack that has been admirable. The only question that remains for the Poms is how to get Steve Smith out? Unless they come up with a miracle answer to that question or drastically revamp their top order with batsmen who are capable of averaging over 40 in Test cricket, we think the theme of the game will be largely similar to Tests one and two.
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