The 5th Investec Ashes Test starts at the KIA Oval on Thursday and England will be looking to further impose their superiority on the Australians. Eventmasters are delighted to offer official KIA Oval hospitality for the final test match of the series as England look to seal a 4-1 win.
You might think that, Ashes won, they might be tempted to take their foot off the gas. No chance! England’s players want that 4-1 advantage given so many of them – Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Stuart Broad and James Anderson –experienced the 5-0 thrashing by the Baggy Cap brigade in 2013-14.
It plunged English cricket into recriminations, retirements, sackings and the Kevin Pietersen debilitating and destructive washing of dirty linen in public. They took a lot of stick and it hurt. Now it is the Aussies’ turn to be caned by the critics, the public and the sporting philosophers.
Though he will remain captain for one last time, it has forced Michael Clarke to step down. That will make for a strange, and perhaps strained, atmosphere given Steve Smith has already been appointed the next captain, with David Warner vice-captain. So expect a hard fought Test, with much to play for, with Eventmasters offering full VIP corporate hospitality to fans eager to see the Ashes handover.
What a transformation for the home side. After emphatic wins at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge, they are on a high. And the Oval is a ground which is normally kind to England.
There are a few posers.
It seems unlikely the injured James Anderson will be risked and the same may go for Mark Wood, given his chronic left ankle trouble. That might open the door to Liam Plunkett – fresh from battering Durham to all but retain the county championship for Yorkshire.
There has been talk that his fellow Yorkshireman Adam Lyth could be replaced as opening batsman by Moeen Ali, England’s second highest run-scorer in the series from No 8. Moeen’s promotion would allow specialist spinner, Adil Rashid, to come in, giving England four pace bowlers and two spinners. And, with the luxury of so many all-rounders in the side, the batting would still be in good shape.
Tempting, but you surely don’t change an Ashes-winning eleven – that would be terrible for morale. And, anyway, Lyth deserves one last chance. He appears to have the quality for Test cricket but sometimes, for whatever reason, quality players simply cannot adjust to the step up.
Will Australia fight back? As I have noted before, they are always at their most dangerous when they are down and suffering a right good kicking.
They will want Clarke to go out victorious but can the middle order, vulnerable to seam and swing, get their act together? It has been a tour beset by rumours of dressing-room rifts and selection angst. And it didn’t get any better on the pitch when Smith fell for a duck as his side drew a rain-affected three-day tour match against Northants.
Australia rested five players for that including their three-man pace attack. If half the side is mentally already on the plane home it could be another humiliation.
Our KIA Oval hospitality packages are the best way to experience the biggest rivalry in international cricket, The Ashes. For more information please see our KIA Oval hospitality page.