ASHES 2015: Why The 5th Test is as important as any other for England.

For many, the result at the Oval in the final Ashes test of the current series will seem irrelevant, with England already regaining the Ashes up in Nottingham two weeks ago.

But Alastair Cook’s men can’t be complacent on the field, as Australia will look to seek little consolation with victory. It will also be the final test appearances for both Michael Clarke and Chris Rodgers. Both will look to end with a flourish.

Clarke is disappointed with his performances this summer, but is grateful to the Australian Cricket Board for what has been a glittering career.

“I would have liked to have played better in this series, admitted the Australian skipper.

“But I think it’s the right time for me to walk away.

“I’ve given my heart and soul to Australian cricket and every time I’ve walked on I’ve given everything I had for the team.

“I’m very fortunate to be the 43rd Australian cricket captain and I’m very proud and honoured to have had the opportunity.”

England will be attempting to win a fourth home Ashes test in a single series for the first ever time. They will have to do that without James Anderson, who isn’t 100% fit. But with an unchanged side named for the Oval, you can expect England to attack with a similar ferocity as at Trent Bridge.

A win would also see Cook and Co. rise to second in the ICC world rankings, ahead of Australia. Draw or defeat would see Australia retain their ranking of second, with England just behind in third.

For most of the team though, the main reason to put in another top quality performance is so they can carry momentum with them to the UAE this winter, where they face Pakistan.

Players like Adam Lyth and Mark Wood will hope to catch the eyes of the England selectors with solid displays. Lyth has struggled with the bat, scoring the second-lowest average for England in this Ashes series (12.28).

Joe Root will look to cement his place at the top of the batting rankings with a big score at the Oval, with Stuart Broad (rank 2nd) also looking to edge ever closer to Dale Steyn (rank 1st) at the top of the bowling rankings.

Finally, if England win it will be the sixth test victory of the calendar year, the first time that has happened since 2011, when they were ranked the best test team in the world.

So with so much at stake, and a chance for a little bit of payback for the stick and abuse the side suffered down under 18 month ago when they were whitewashed 5-0, why should England ease off?

Australia are on the ropes, with players now calling it a day and injuries, England have never in my lifetime had a better opportunity to rub salt into the very deep Australian wounds.

With a green pitch, fans can expect another wicket-fest like the other test matches this summer. With bounce and swing, the fast pace bowlers can once again commence a fierce attack at the stumps.

It will once again be a very important coin toss when Alastair Cook and Clarke meet on the wicket tomorrow morning- with both teams hoping to bowl first and gain an early advantage.

*Quotes from BBC Sport.

ASHES 2015: Australia Win One-Sided Second Test to Level Series.

2nd Test, Day Four, Lord’s.

Australia thrashed England at Lord’s by 405 runs to level the Ashes series 1-1 with a day to spare.

England’s horrific second innings batting collapse added salt into the wounds, as they were bowled out for just 103 on what was a decent batting pitch.

Australia had earlier in the day racked up another 146 runs, before declaring on 254-2 just before lunch. This meant England would need to withstand five sessions (or 155 overs) of brutal Australian bowling to save the test.

They managed to survive just 37.

With all their wickets in tact at lunch, no one would have seen the avalanche that was about to unfold. Alastair Cook, Gary Ballance and Adam Lyth were all caught behind to begin the carnage.

Under pressure Ian Bell could then only master up 11 runs from 50 deliveries before he poked a Nathan Lyon ball straight to short leg for the simplest of catches.

Just as the hosts thought it couldn’t get worse, Ben Stokes was daftly run out for zero. Somehow, he failed to ground either himself or his bat when Mitchell Johnson arrowed a throw directly at the stumps.

By tea England were five down and knew they just had to see the day out without losing any more wickets.

Instead, Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali both came and went within five deliveries from Johnson.

Stuart Broad, the only England player to have played decent cricket in this test, slugged the ball about to a quick 25 score before he was caught at cover to make it 101-8.

Only two more runs were added before Josh Hazlewood then wrapped up proceedings. He clean bowled both Joe Root and James Anderson, sparking wild celebrations for the Australians.

The only concern for the winning side was the health of in-form opener Chris Rodgers, who retired on 49 due to illness. He watched on from the pavilion for the remainder of the day, but should feature at Edgbaston in nine days time.

The defeat was England’s third heaviest against their rivals, and must now consider changes- particularly at the top of the order.

“When you get bowled out for 100, it isn’t good enough,” admitted Cook.

“Australia put us under pressure and we weren’t able to deal with it.

“We have come up short this week. But we have to take this on the chin. Now it’s about the character we need to show in order to bounce back.”

For Australia, it was the perfect response to their defeat in Cardiff last week as they now aim to win their first Ashes series in England since 2001.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better performance,” said a ecstatic Michael Clarke.

“We didn’t play our best at Cardiff, but now we can look in the mirror and say we played some good cricket here.”

It’s funny just how much can change in a week.

Australia this time last week looked nothing like the side that has transformed since Darren Lehmann took over. England played the perfect test in Cardiff, but couldn’t replicate that form at Lord’s. Now it is them who need to ponder long and hard about how they can recover at Edgbaston.

The third test begins on July 29th.

ASHES 2015: England Win First Test To Take Lead In Series.

1st Test, Day Four, Cardiff. 

England crushed Australia by 169 runs to take a 1-0 series lead in this year’s Ashes.

In a brilliant display with the ball, the England bowlers dismissed the whole Australian line up for 242 in their second innings. Stuart Broad spearheaded the ruthless performance by Alastair Cook’s men on a fast-paced fourth day.

The result makes England’s dismal performance down under 18 months ago feel like a distant memory, as they produced four days of high quality, exhilarating cricket.

Australia, who were strong favourites to retain the urn, now must regroup and rebuild ahead of the second test at Lord’s next week.

The hosts struggled during the morning session, with Chris Rodgers the only victim heading into lunch. The turning point of the innings was in the final over of the session, when David Warner was trapped LBW by Moeen Ali for 52.

Cook’s decision to allow Ali to bowl the final over was just one of the many masterstrokes the Essex opener made in what was arguably his best performance as England captain.

After the lunch break, England went up the gears, and smashed through the Australian batting line up. Broad took the crucial wickets of Steve Smith on 33, and then Aussie captain Michael Clarke.

Adam Voges and Brad Haddin came and went in quick succession and when Shane Watson was caught LBW to leave the tourists on 151-7, the home fans knew that the result was almost guaranteed.

A brave Mitchell Johnson put up a late fight to keep the Australians in with a shout, striking up a partnership of 72 with Mitchell Starc at the tail end of the order.

However Joe Root, who had batted well earlier in the match, claimed both the wickets of Johnson and Starc.

When Josh Hazlewood smashed a ball from Ali to long on, all the England players, coaching team and supporters erupted with joy.

It was only the third time England had won the opening Ashes test, the last being back in 2013 when they last won the Ashes. In 15 of the last 17 Ashes series, the winners of the first test have gone on to win the urn.

“It was a brilliant performance,” said Cook.

‘This Test couldn’t have gone any better and we’ll enjoy tonight.

“Everyone was talking about what’s gone on in the past, but this is a different side. We had to look forward. We always took the attacking option in this game.

“Joe Root was fantastic and the bowlers were superb.”

New head coach Trevor Bayliss will also be more than satisfied with England’s performance in what was his first match in charge of the team.

For Australia, they have many thoughts to ponder over the next few days.

The main decision to be made whether to drop Watson from the team after being caught LBW yet again (the 14th time against England in 35 innings). His understudy, Mitchell Marsh, scored hundreds in both of the two warm up games ahead of the series and could refresh the middle order for the visitors.

Another worry is the fitness of Starc, who had ankle surgery prior to the first test. Signs of fatigue were clear on the Australian during England’s second innings and the physio’s will hope not to exaggerate any further damage.

“We were outplayed in all three facets,” admitted Clarke.

“England batted well on day one, we didn’t take our catches and our batting let us down in both innings.

“We look forward to making amends in the second Test. I’m sure the selectors will look at everyone’s performance and make a decision.”