The third Ashes Test at Old Trafford is a crucial one for the Aussies. While Alastair Cook will look forward to sealing the series with a third consecutive victory, Michael Clarke will try and lift up the morale of his teammates with a win. A win is necessary for Australia to remain alive in the series.
While the English side looks formidable with a good batting and bowling line-up, the Aussies need to reshuffle their side and bring in match winners. Here’s a glimpse of what or who to look forward to in the third of the five-match series.
Opener Shane Watson’s inability to score in the first two Test matches has brought his position under scanner. The 32-year-old Queenslander has scores of 13, 46, 30 and 20 in the Trent Bridge and Lord`s Tests. One of the major reasons being cited for his poor form is his falling an easy prey to LBW. He has been dismissed in this manner three times in four innings in Ashes 2013. He needs to find a quick solution to this problem. As a match-winner, Shane Watson needs to rise up for his country in this crucial match.
David Warner’s return to the Australian side is an attempt to resurrect the faltering Oz team. Warner was suspended by Cricket Australia last month after he punched Joe Root during the Champions Trophy. Following that he was left out for the first two Test matches at Trent Bridge and Lord’s. Later, he joined the Australia A tour to Zimbabwe and South Africa, scoring 193 against South Africa A in Pretoria.
No Australian batsman has scored a century in the first two Ashes Tests. As a quick-scoring left-handed opening batsman, Warner is expected to improve the faltering Australian top order. He could open with either Phil Hughes or Chris Rogers.
James Taylor has been included in the English squad as a cover for Kevin Pietersen. The 23-year-old as a guest player for Susex, completed an unbeaten 121 runs vs Australians in a practice game, increasing his chances of playing in the Ashes.
He hopes to make most of the opportunity if he is recalled to the England Test side. Taylor was ousted from the England team in 2012 after a miserable performance in the Test matches against South Africa. He piled up paltry scores of 34, 10 and 4.
He was told to improve his technique and score some runs in domestic cricket, and he has precisely done that. He scored 824 runs for Nottinghamshire in the County Championship this season, and his hundred against the Australians was his third first-class century this summer.
Though England will wait for star batsmen Kevin Pietersen to return to the squad until the last moment, but they definitely have a bright option open in the form of Taylor.
Nineteen-year-old Ashton Agar caused a sensation by scoring 98 on his Test debut at Trent Bridge, missing out on becoming the first No. 11 in history to score a century by just two runs.
Surprisingly, he is the top Australian run-scorer in the tournament. But he was brought in to the team as a spinner, a role in which he so far has failed. He has taken only two wickets in the first two matches.
Agar needs to improve upon his bowling, his primary role. Though Australia’s coach Darren Lehman has put his trust in the young bowler, putting speculations of his replacement by Nathan Lyon to rest, Agar needs to prove his bowling prowess in the crucial third Test at Old Trafford’s.
There are high hopes from Joe Root considering his magnificent performance in the second Test. It was Root’s one-man show that led to England’s victory in the second Test.
He scored 180 and took two important wickets in the match. Interestingly, the entire Australian team could score only 128 in their first innings, way less than Root’s total.
Root is the third-youngest England player to score an Ashes century. We will wait to see Root’s magic yet again.
Graeme Swann and James Anderson
In 79 years, Graeme Swann became the first England spinner to take five wickets in an innings of an Ashes Test. He is also the 19th England bowler to complete 100 wickets in Tests in England. His tally now is 103 wickets in 29 Test matches.
The wizard called Jimmy Anderson is England’s most prized possession. Anderson bowled 13 consecutive overs on the final morning of England`s 14-run first Test win.
While there is no doubt about Alastair Cook’s leadership, he is yet to make a major impact with his batting. We would love to see the captain display his batting skills like he has done in the past.
Being the best batsman of the Australian side, captain Michael Clarke has increased responsibilities. He has stayed calm in defeat but he needs to score and lead by example to uplift the moral of his already low confident side.
DRS/Umpiring Review System
The review system has generated and raised quite a few eyebrows in the series. With controversial decisions in almost every innings, it remains to be seen how the system fares in the third Test.