Thursday 16 December 2010
Australia v England at Perth, 3rd Test
Live Broadcast on Supersport 6 – 04:00- 12:00
Australia v England
England face Australia in the third Test in Perth on Thursday knowing another victory would retain the Ashes.
Having won the second Test at Adelaide by an emphatic innings and 71 runs, England are highly fancied to win their first series in Australia since 1986-7.
Stuart Broad has been ruled out for the rest of the tour, with paceman Chris Tremlett tipped to take his place.
Australia are without Simon Katich so Phil Hughes opens the batting, while Steve Smith has also been recalled.
Should 29-year-old Tremlett take his place in the pace bowling unit alongside Steven Finn, 21, they would have only 13 Test appearances between them.
But James Anderson, who is ready to play after briefly returning home to England to witness the birth of his second child, has 54 caps and is relishing the role of senior seamer.
“I feel like it’s part of my job as a bowler – and I see myself as the leader of the attack here, so it’s important I think about what went right for us in the last two games and what we can improve on for this game,” the 28-year-old Lancastrian said.
In addition to Tremlett, who has taken 13 wickets in three Tests, the last of which was in 2007, England also have Yorkshire all-rounder Tim Bresnan and his county colleague seamer Ajmal Shahzad in contention for a place in the side.
All three played in a tour match against Australia A at Hobart before the first Test, Tremlett taking seven wickets in the match, Bresnan six and Shahzad three as England won by 10 wickets.
“They’re all quality bowlers, all three guys could do a fantastic job. I’m not sure it’s that big a decision – and luckily I’m not the one who has to make it,” Anderson said.
“Tremlett has a massive advantage with his height, and might get some bounce out of the pitch, Bresnan is a very skilful bowler, who has made some valuable contributions with the bat in our one-day side and Ajmal Shahzad bowled fantastically well in Hobart.”
Australian opener Hughes had a traumatic start to his Test career when he departed for a fourth ball duck in the opening over of the first Test against South Africa in Johannesburg in February 2009.
But he made 75 in the second innings before a pair of centuries in the next Test at Durban.
He fell out of favour during the 2009 Ashes tour of England when he made only 57 runs in three innings, but his most recent Test knock in March saw him smash an unbeaten 86 from 75 balls, with 12 fours and a six, as Australia beat New Zealand by 10 wickets in Wellington.
In seven Tests he has scored 615 runs at an impressive average of 51.25, but has managed only 201 at 22.33 in first-class cricket for New South Wales this season.
“It has been disappointing that for New South Wales I haven’t really got that big score under my belt,” the 22-year-old said.
“But I have got a lot of starts over the last couple of weeks and I got 80 only about two-and-a-half weeks ago against England in Hobart playing for Australia A.
“That has given me huge confidence going into Thursday. I am pumped and I can’t wait to get out there. Mentally I feel really good and I am hitting them good in the nets, which is always a good sign.”
Left-hander Hughes is determined to play his natural attacking game in the Test match, and has even likened his style to India’s cavalier opener Virender Sehwag.
Hughes has a highest Test score of 160, made in only his fourth innings
“That’s how I’ve always played. I’ve been quite aggressive especially the last few years,” Hughes said. “That’s my natural game and something I’m not going to change over the next few years.
“I love watching Sehwag play. Without a doubt he comes to my mind straightaway as an opening batsman.
“He’s very aggressive, but what Sehwag can do is he can take a game away from any opposition, either in Indian conditions or all around the world.”
Leg-spinner Smith, who began his Test career with the two games against Pakistan played in England in July, has taken three wickets and averages 25 with the bat, having made 77 at Headingley.
He has recorded four first-class centuries, however, and may bat as high as six at Perth.
“I have always wanted to play in the Australian side as a batsman,” the 21-year-old said Smith, who could also form a spin partnership with uncapped Western Australia slow left-armer Michael Beer.
“It is the pinnacle of Australian cricket playing in an Ashes series and I can’t wait.”
Beer, who was brought into the squad to replace another left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty despite having only played six first-class matches, received a less than glowing reference from Darryl Foster, who was on the Western Australia selection panel that picked him for Sheffield Shield domestic cricket.
“He’s OK,” Foster said of the 26-year-old, the 10th spinner to be tried by Australia since Shane Warne retired in 2007.
“He seems to be a reasonably good competitor. Whether he’s class enough for that level, time will tell. Doherty wasn’t up to that task and I don’t know that any left-arm spinner here would be up to it.
“I think Beer is slightly better, he’s taller than Doherty, his action is good, he does get some drop and a bit of flight and he’s turned the ball on the Waca, which is surprising.
“But I do think it’s a panic decision. I don’t know why they are determined to play a spinner.”
The Waca is famous for the Fremantle Doctor, a strong wind that blows up from the west and buffets the ground from mid-afternoon onwards. While it’s better known for the impact it has on bowling conditions, it also affects the way batsmen must approach their innings
Meanwhile the groundsman at Perth’s Waca believes the wicket is beginning to show signs of the pace and bounce that became its trademark in years gone by.
Curator Cam Sutherland said there had been steady improvement since the wicket block was re-laid three years ago and he expected the surface to regain its quick reputation in the next few years.
“Each year, the wicket block as it settles and compacts and gets harder, it is getting better. We think we are on the right track,” he said.
“The [Sheffield] Shield wickets have been pretty lively and pretty quick, we’ve been trying to get the Test wickets there and for one or two reasons haven’t been able to quite get there.”
AJ Strauss (captain), AN Cook, IJL Trott, KP Pietersen, PD Collingwood, IR Bell, MJ Prior (wkt), GP Swann, CT Tremlett, ST Finn, JM Anderson, TT Bresnan, A Shahzad.
RT Ponting (captain), PJ Hughes, SR Watson, MJ Clarke, MEK Hussey, SPD Smith, BJ Haddin (wkt), MG Johnson, MA Beer, RJ Harris, BW Hilfenhaus, PM Siddle.
Umpires: M Erasmus (SA) and B Doctrove (WI)
Third umpire: A Dar (Pkn)
Match referee: J Crowe (NZ)