EVEN though they have already wrapped up the Ashes, I don’t think England will be complacent in any way at The Oval.
They’ve made it pretty clear that they want to win 4-1 and they will be highly motivated to do that and I can’t see them taking their foot off the gas at all.
It will be interesting to see whether England take the opportunity to try out a couple of different players given they have already regained the urn.
Ultimately, it will depend on The Oval pitch and given that Alastair Cook is keen to win the series 4-1 and that the Australians have struggled with seam movement and swing it is unlikely that he’s going to rip that script up and maybe look at the bigger picture by playing, for example, Adil Rashid, on a dry pitch that might turn.
Looking at the bigger picture with Pakistan coming up in the UAE, it would be an ideal opportunity to play Adil to give him some experience and get a Test match under his belt before the UAE but I sense they will try and go with the seam bowling attack that has served them so well so far and try to get that fourth win, as opposed to the slightly riskier option of playing an unknown second spinner.
If I was making the call, I would probably look at the bigger picture, but I understand Cook’s view not to give the Australians a sniff. There are strong arguments to support both ways.
You have to admit, it’s been a tough series for Adam Lyth, but I fully expect him to get another chance at The Oval.
He’s learning on the job and working out how to play really fast bowling. Clearly, New Zealand don’t have a bad attack, but the Starc, Johnson and Hazlewood combination is quicker than the three New Zealand bowlers that Adam would have faced earlier this summer.
So he’s had to combat that challenge of facing sheer pace constantly in this series and, on each occasion, one slight error has cost him dearly. While he’s been in, he’s looked reasonably okay and given that there are not a lot of openers around the country queuing up to replace him, the England selectors are wanting to give him as many opportunities as possible to crack it.
I do honestly think they like what they see in Adam and the fact that he got that century against New Zealand shows that he is capable of scoring runs at international level.
I think they would like him to succeed and they are giving him every opportunity and with England having won the Ashes and winning games, it helps them do that.
If they were losing and Adam wasn’t scoring runs, they would be under a lot more pressure to change things.
Hopefully, he can get a decent half-century under his belt at The Oval, seal his place for the winter as a result and that will hopefully give him the confidence to go on and score more runs at this level.
As for the Australians, they will obviously be smarting and it is going to be sad to see Michael Clarke leave the international stage. He’s right up there as one of the best players at international level as far as I’m concerned.
Ultimately, I think it’s his body that has let him down. I know myself with back trouble how that can affect you as far as your movements are concerned and playing sport at the highest level, you need your fitness to be spot on these days and that is ultimately what has done for him.
And with batting – at the highest level – it just slows you down that little bit and it’s all about fractions of a second that can cost you.
In many ways, for somebody of his obvious ability and for what he has achieved in the game, to go out on a bit of a downer with an Ashes loss is not ideal, but he can hold his head up high after serving Australia brilliantly over the years.
Clearly, the Australian captain will be trying to go out on a high at The Oval.