England have a great chance to finish off the Aussies at Trent Bridge. Eventmasters are delighted to be providing Trent Bridge hospitality packages for this crucial match.
On a high after thrashing the Baggy Cap brigade at Edgbaston, leading 2-1 in the five Test series, they go into the match on the front foot. Australia have taken a tanking from the critics amid talk of disarray in the camp. Trent Bridge is a ground which normally favours England but the injured Jimmy Anderson is out and he has a fantastic record there. He will be a big miss. So it is finely balanced.
Will Australia fight back? They are always at their most dangerous when they are down and suffering a right good kicking. Edgbaston produced some big pluses for the home team. Steven Finn was back to his best after 18 months in the wilderness and will be desperate to prove that performance was no flash in the pan. Ian Bell also returned to form with two solid knocks. He needs to consolidate that – it is always wonderful to watch a classy batsman like Bell smacking fours through the covers. He is the epitome of stylish and elegant stroke-making – almost a throwback to the days of Dexter, May and Cowdrey. Bell making runs is worth the admission price alone.
Joe Root is much in the same vein – beautiful to watch. Caresses the ball. And the other “surprise” to many – but not this column – is how well Moeen Ali has gone. Some excellent scores and productive spells with the ball. He has been relatively expensive, but the Aussies haven’t truly got at his deliveries when some feared he might be knocked to all corners. England could do with more from Lyth, Stokes and Buttler. Let’s hope this is their opportunity. In contrast the Aussies must confront serious issues. The captain, Michael Clarke, has struggled and there is talk that he is at odds with some of the selections he has been given. “The No4 batter hasn’t turned up yet,” admitted Clarke. And that is reflected in his career average dipping below 50 for the first time since November 2012. A terrific touch player when firing on all cylinders, he needs a score. Aged 34, he is ancient by Australian standards although those seem to have changed somewhat – once you were cast aside virtually when you hit 30.
Clarke has now lost 12 Tests overseas as captain, more than any Australian skipper in history. You feel for him. If his career is ebbing to a close he deserves to go out on a high … just not this Test please! His trusted lieutenant Brad Haddin is even older at 37. Missing out on the Second Test for unexplained personal reasons, he wasn’t picked for Edgbaston after his replacement Peter Nevill took his chance. It has been suggested that some of the dressing room were unimpressed by Haddin’s axing, but dropping Nevill would be extremely harsh. Are the rumours of dressing-room rifts and wrangling true? Sometimes Australians need that edge to respond.
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