Australia will search for a consolation win in the final Ashes Test against England at The Oval where the two teams meet for the fifth game from Wednesday.
We’ll have live scores and commentary of this Ashes Test from The Oval starting at 8pm AEST.
Pundits had predicted a 5-0 scoreline at the start of the series.
A drawn Test at Old Trafford put paid to that prediction but more vitally, the series has been a far more hard-fought one than what 3-0 suggests.
With a little more luck, and a little more experience, it could well have been 2-2 and we would have been staring at the prospect of a delicious finale at The Oval.
That said, England have played the big moments well. Very well, in fact.
What’s helped the hosts, and in no small measure, is the Australian batsmen’s inability to do the same.
They collapsed in the first innings at Trent Bridge when they had a chance to dictate terms, they did that against at Lord’s and then history repeated at Chester-le-Street.
The capitulation in that Chester-le-Street Test will be most worrying. It either points to the batsmen’s inability to learn from previous or a serious lack of technical nous under pressure.
It will be interesting to see if Australia can land the killer blow that’s been lacking so far. And there are a couple of changes to that regard.
There’s no place for Usman Khawaja and Jackson Bird and their place has been taken up by bowling all-rounder James Faulkner and Mitchell Starc.
It’s an interesting change because, on paper, it reduces the batting strength of a side which is already struggling for runs.
But the other way of looking at it is that Khawaja’s bat has yielded 46 runs in his last four innings and it cannot get too much worse than that from Faulkner. Plus he provides a bowling option that would have otherwise gone missing because of Shane Watson’s groin injury.
What the selection of Watson shows is that he continues to remain important to the side’s plans as a pure batsman, although there are reports that suggest he should be able to bowl.
There is one other advantage Australia may derive out of Faulkner’s bowling. As has been on display in the shorter format of the game, Faulkner possesses the ability to bowl cutters and on a dusty Oval track it could prove useful.
England will be forced to make at least one change to their side too. Tim Bresnan’s injury means Chris Tremlett could be in line for a comeback, although Steven Finn, Chris Woakes and the first-timer Simon Kerrigan are also available.
Bresnan’s injury almost forces England’s hand into retaining and not resting James Anderson. Going into the game with two, relatively new bowlers, may take the edge off their attack.
The lack of batting form for Alastair Cook and Jonathon Trott has been repeated ad nauseam and also under some kind of pressure will be Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow. One almost gets a sense that one of these four is in line to get a big one this game.
Ian Bell continues to torment Australia as much as Shane Warne had done to him and he will be gunning for a record, fourth Ashes century in the series.
Follow the live score and blog of the first day’s play of the final Ashes 2013 Test from 8 pm AEST. You can join me for this live blog and post your comments below.