Steve Smith is back as Australia look to put their Headingley nightmare behind them.
Steve Smith’s health and the form of both teams’ top-order bats are the big talking points after Lord’s.
Can England bounce back and square the 2019 Ashes series with a win at Lord’s?
An epic summer of cricket continues when England and Australia resume hostilities at Edgbaston.
Both sides have had injury scares leading up to the first Test of the 2017/18 Ashes series, which starts Thursday in Brisbane.
Tuesday, September 8, 11pm AEST, Old Trafford, Watch on Gem
ODI 1: Australia won by 59 runs
ODI 2: Australia won by 64 runs
DESPITE getting comprehensively whacked by the English in the Ashes, the Aussies ($1.63 with Sportsbet) have their cricket back on track in the short form of the game, storming to a 2-0 lead, with a chance to wrap up the five match series at Old Trafford tomorrow night.
The Poms ($2.23 with CrownBet.com) are still seething from an incident in the second ODI, after New Zealand-born English all rounder Ben Stokes was controversially given out for obstructing the field.
Stokes appeared to deliberately get in the way of a ball thrown at the stumps by seamer Mitchell Starc and was duly given out by the third umpire.
It was the first time in one day international history a player had been given out in this fashion and prompted outcry in the English press – and from Irish-born Pommy captain Eoin Morgan
The dismissal, which occurred during Australia’s cruisy 64 run win at Lords on Saturday, left Morgan seething, the captain saying he would have withdrawn his appeal if the English were fielding.
“You don’t have time to think,” Morgan said.
“It was a natural reaction to avoid the ball.
“Mitchell Starc was about five yards away from Ben Stokes.
“The decision was made.
“My interpretation of it was that his reaction wasn’t deliberate.
“I feel that the ball was thrown so fast that you can only react in a way that defends yourself and he put his hand up to protect himself and followed the ball.
“Certainly I think it would have been a lot different if we were fielding.
Morgan says Stokes was acting in self defence – something Law 37 allows for if obstructing the field is necessary to preserve player safety.
But Australian captain Steve Smith says he was never going to withdraw the appeal.
“I was just saying he was out of his ground and he put his hand in the way of the stumps,” Smith said.
“I put it into perspective I guess, I said ‘it’s the same as me coming back for a two and turning around and putting my hand out.’
“It just looked worse because it went back to the bowler and it all happened so quickly.
“I think that’s the same thing.
“I think if you look at it, from what I saw, the ball was going towards the stumps and it wasn’t even going to hit him.
“He’s put his hand out to stop the ball.”
The dismissal occurred at 4/141 in the 26th over, with the Poms chasing a hefty 310 to win after early rain had reduced each innings by an over.
The Aussies enjoyed a sterling performance from the middle order, led, once again, by Smith, who rattled off 70 from 87 balls.
George Bailey tapped 54 from 72, Glenn Maxwell a typically lightning quick 49 off 38 pills and Shane Watson, who has just retired from Test cricket, hit a run a ball 39.
But it was the power hitting of Mitch Marsh that has people raving.
The all rounder brought out the long stick, smashing the Poms all over the park in scoring 64 off 31 balls, the innings featuring seven boundaries and three brutal sixes, helping inflate the total.
Stokes was the best of the English bowlers with 3/60 off his nine, while Steve Finn bagged 2/55, while Moeen Ali’s spin copped plenty of stick, his 1/68 off eight overs coming at 8.5 runs per.
In reply, it was always going to be a tough chase, but the English started brightly, with Jason Roy (31 off 32) and Alex Hales (18 off 20) looking good early.
James Taylor also went nicely, reeling off a slowish 43 off 47, but it was Morgan who held the keys for the Poms.
His 85 off 87 balls underlined how talented he is, a knock which featured four fours and four sixes.
But, once Stokes was dismissed for 10, the English really struggled to hold up the other end, only Liam Plunkett, with a flourishing 24 off 12 balls, provided any further resistance. No one else reached double figures for England.
Pat Cummins was the man with the rock for Australia, snaring 4/56, including the vital wicket of Morgan, while Maxwell backed up his lusty batting with 2/44.
Devastating for the Australians was an injury to swashbuckling opener David Warner, who had to retire on one after copping one on the thumb, leaving him with a fracture that has ended his tour – and put him in jeopardy for the upcoming series against Bangladesh.
The Aussies, though, have plenty of top order fire power to draw upon, with Twenty 20 captain Aaron Finch called in to the squad to replace the gun opener, who has flown home.
Warner is expected to miss four to six weeks with the injury, courtesy of a brutish delivery from Finn.
To compound injury woes, Watson suffered a calf injury and has flown home for the summer and versatile fast bowling all rounder Nathan Coulter-Nile has done his hammy. He too is on the plane back to Australia.
There will be at least three new faces in the Aussies side, and the English will make at least one change as well, with wicket keeper batsman Jos Buttler – who made a duck – rested for the rest of the summer. Jonny Bairstow has the call up to cover his omission from the squad.
England: Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow (wicket keeper), Sam Billings, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Taylor, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood
Australia: Steve Smith (captain), Ashton Agar, George Bailey, Joe Burns, Patrick Cummins, Aaron Finch, Peter Handscomb, John Hastings, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade (wicket keeper)
Match result: England wins ($2.23 with CrownBet.com)
Team for most sixes: England ($2.10 with Sportsbet.com)
It appears England are quite good at Test cricket, but not so much this one day stuff. The Poms can’t get an early wicket to save themselves. Unbelievably, in their last seven one dayers against Australia and New Zealand, there has only been one game where they’ve taken more than two wickets inside the first 25 overs. Something’s got to give and we’re going to back them to turn it around against an unsettled Aussie line up. We like their openers too. Hales smashes it and JJ Roy has plenty of pluck. While we think Finch will fit seamlessly into the opening slot vacated by the injured Warner, we reckon the kid Joe Burns is due for a failure, so we’re going to go with the English pair to set a solid opening platform against what is a fearsome Australian bowling line up. Call us crazy, but, given the upheaval the Aussies have had to endure thanks to a trio of injuries to key players, we reckon the Poms can make a series out of this by pinching game three and keeping their faint hopes alive.
Top run scorer tips
Bit of a left field pick, considering the fact he only averages a tick over 18 in one day internationals, but we know that he is scorned by the decision by the Australians to appeal against him for obstructing the ball and we think that might just spur him into action. That average is flat out woeful for a player of his talent and really vindicates the English infamously leaving him out of that disappointing World Cup squad. It’s time to turn it around, Benny Boy, and we reckon he has the ability and the temperament to do tp score in this one, despite the looming figure of his uber talented captain Morgan.
Finch will probably think he was stiff not to be included in the initial squad for the tour of England, but his body just wasn’t quite ready after struggling with injury since the World Cup. Now fully fit, he will be jumping out of his skin to show his worth. Finch is a like for like replacement for the injured Warner at the top of the innings. While he’s not quite the slayer Warner is, he certainly has a barrage of shots that can rip a game away from his opposition inside 10 overs. If he gets going, the ground won’t be big enough. Having played his recent cricket with County side Yorkshire, Finch will have the intricate local knowledge his team mates have honed over the past two months, making him a tough proposition for the English seamers. Finch has six one day international hundreds to his name and we reckon he’s a massive chance to hammer home Australia’s one day dominance with a huge return to the international stage.
Top wicket taker tips
Steven Finn with ($4.33 with sportsbet.com.au)
We can’t decide whether we like or hate this guy, but one thing we do know is that on his day he is capable of tearing a batting line up apart. Has plenty of height, which helps him extract prodigious bounce, even out of the most tame deck. Doesn’t necessarily have the grunt often required to be a genuine fast bowler and has sometimes been on the outer of the English line up, but we think his spot should be secure after busting up Warner, nabbing the wickets of Burns and Maxwell in game two and bowled with decent economy in game one.
Pat Cummins ($3.75 with sportsbet.com.au)
We’ve said we love this bloke before and his effort to bag four wickets in the victory at Lord’s only enhances that admiration. This kid could be anything. Is all hustle and bustle when he hits the wicket and he sends down absolute rockets. His ability o produce gaudy wicket taking efforts makes him vital to this Australian line up. Loves a big bag and already has six wickets in this series. If he doesn’t get rested, which the Australians probably won’t do now that that Coulter-Nile has been sent home with injury, he is a prime candidate to take the most wickets. Doesn’t get the new rock at the moment, but that really doesn’t seam to matter. He’s grabbing the rock whenever its available and making the most of his opportunity to impress fans and the selectors alike, after a wretched tun with injury had curtailed his career.
10:30am local time on Saturday, September 5, 2015 at Lord’s, London
England – $2.53 at www.Sportsbet.com
Australia – $1.57 at William Hill
AUSTRALIA may have endured a miserable Ashes series, but their one-day form looks as good as ever.
The reigning world champions took a 1-0 lead on Thursday in their five-match ODI series against England, who fell 59 runs short of the Aussies’ 305 total.
The result has seen the tourists firm to $1.57 (bet365.com) to win the second ODI at Lord’s this Saturday, while leading bookmaker William Hill now has them at $1.22 futures odds to take the series outright.
The top three of David Warner (59), Joe Burns (44) and Steve Smith (44) gave Australia a very solid start in Southampton, although all would have been disappointed with soft dismissals to Adil Rashid.
The England leg-spinner also claimed George Bailey lbw to set off a mini-collapse in the middle order, with Glenn Maxwell and Shane Watson sent packing shortly after.
But incoming wicketkeeper Matthew Wade made the most of his opportunity, top scoring with 71 in an unbeaten 112-run stand with Mitchell Marsh (40*).
England’s top four responded well, especially Jason Roy (67) and James Taylor (49), but Australia’s bowlers lifted as one to roll the last six wickets for just 52 runs.
Smith was pleased with his side’s performance, and especially with the late hitting of Wade and Marsh.
“I thought the boys played really nicely tonight,” the Australian captain told the media after the game.
“We probably had a bit of a hiccup with the bat in the middle order but Matthew Wade and Mitchell Marsh at the end there, to score 93 off the last 10 [overs], was an extremely good effort.
“I thought the total was around par. I thought we were going to have to bowl and field well – and we did tonight, so that was the most pleasing thing.”
Smith’s opposite number, Eoin Morgan, praised the Aussies’ performance while admitting England would need to do more if they wished to turn the tables this weekend at Lord’s.
“Australia are a really strong side and we will have to play well to beat them,” said Morgan.
“I suppose if we’re looking to be the perfect side, 306, given the start we had, was within our grasp. We didn’t do enough here but this will be part of our learning curve.”
England have added 21-year-old Essex spinner Reece Topley to the roster for the remainder of the series, but Rashid will hold his spot for Lord’s after returning four wickets for 59 at the Ageas Bowl.
Of the Yorkshire leggy’s performance, Morgan said: “Adil has come on leaps and bounds, probably since the start of the summer.
“He bowled well in the New Zealand series and he’s been working really hard at Yorkshire and obviously being in and around the Test team.
“For him to come out today and hold his nerve against a good batting lineup, I was very impressed.”
Seamers Mark Wood (1/72), Chris Woakes (0/57) and Steve Finn (0/41) were largely ineffectual in match one, which could result in either David Willey or Liam Plunkett being included on Saturday.
England and Australia ODI squads
England: Eoin Morgan (C), Moeen Ali, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Taylor, Reece Topley, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.
Australia: Steven Smith (C), Ashton Agar, George Bailey, Joe Burns, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Shane Watson.
Australia to win – $1.57 at WilliamHill.com
Australia to hit most sixes – $2.18 at CrownBet
No centuries to be scored – $2.20 at www.Bet365.com
If the Aussies have any happy hunting grounds left in the UK, then Lord’s is the best of them.
They demolished England there during the recent Ashes series, and they will be confident of a repeat dose after their composed, somewhat gritty display in the first ODI.
The visitors’ extra pace options should allow them to squeeze some life out of a deck which should be rather conducive to shotmaking – an area in which they are equally well stocked.
And regardless of any psychological advantage the hosts might have carried over from the Test series, Australia – the 2015 Cricket World Cup winners – are still the best One Day International team on the planet.
If you’re looking for some value in the England vs Australia match betting markets, CrownBet.com has the tourists at outsider odds to score the most match sixes (they edged that stat 3-2 down in Hampshire).
Bet365, meanwhile, is offering better than even money for no hundreds to be score by either side.
Top runscorer picks
England – Alex Hales ($5 at Sportsbet.com)
Hales’ scores in the T20i (3) and the first ODI (22) belie his stellar form throughout the English summer. The big-hitting opener notched three consecutive one-day 50s for Notts leading into this series, punctuated by a barnstorming 189 against Warwickshire in the County Championship.
Australia – Steven Smith ($4 at William Hill)
The Aussie skipper looked in excellent touch on Thursday before holing out to deep midwicket for 44. It’s almost impossible to pick anyone else at St. John’s Wood, where Smith made scores of 215 and 58 in the second Test of the recent Ashes series.
Best odds for top wicket-taker
England – Adil Rashid ($4.60 at www.CrownBet.com)
Rashid took 75 per cent of England’s wickets at Southampton, so it’s tough to look elsewhere on form alone. He regularly deceived the Aussie batsmen with clever variations in flight and pace, and his well-diguised googly could pose more problems this weekend.
Australia – Nathan Coulter-Nile ($5 at Bet365)
All three of Australia’s frontline quicks took two wickets in the first ODI, but Coulter-Nile was the pick of the bunch. The West Australian’s willingness to hit the deck is a handy counterpoint to the fuller length of Starc, and that trait should prove useful in extracting some juice from batter-friendly pitch conditions at Lord’s.
ENG vs AUS ODI fixtures and results
First ODI – Thursday, September 3 at the Rose Bowl, Southampton (Australian won by 59 runs)
Second ODI – Saturday, September 5 at Lord’s, London
Third ODI – Tuesday, September 8 at Old Trafford, Manchester
Fourth ODI – Friday, September 11 at Headingley, Leeds
Fifth ODI – Sunday, September 14 at Old Trafford, Manchester
AUSTRALIA gave retiring captain Michael Clarke a strong sendoff on Sunday, wrapping up the fifth Ashes Test on day four to win by an innings and 46 runs.
That result made it 3-2 to England for Ashes 2015 – a somewhat flattering scoreline for both sides, in truth, as it fails to illustrate how one-sided each of the five matches were.
But that will matter little to those canny punters who backed the hosts early on to take the series, in a futures market that was paying $5 odds at WilliamHill.com prior to the first Test.
Also smiling will be those who picked Joe Root to take out the Man of the Series award.
The Yorkshire strokemaker finished behind Steven Smith (508 runs) and Chris Rogers (480 runs) on the overall batting charts, but his two centuries and two fifties came at key moments throughout a campaign in which England’s top order often struggled.
Root offered little in the closer at The Oval, however, and it was Smith ($11 at Bet365) who claimed the Man of the Match award after his first-innings 143 – his second ton of the series – set the Aussies on their way.
But Australia’s Man of the Series was the ultra-consistent Rogers ($12 at Bet365.com), who bid farewell to Test cricket with six scores of 40+ (including one century and three half-tons) in nine Ashes innings.
And while the door closes for the one they call ‘Buck’, it may have reopened for his Victoria teammate Peter Siddle.
The former mainstay of the Aussie attack excelled in his only Test of the series, taking six wickets at an economy rate of just 1.9 runs per over – a much-needed counterpoint to the deadly, yet erratic Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson.
Many observers – including the man himself – thought Siddle’s international was all but over after he was left out for Trent Bridge, but he now has a chance to reestablish himself in a bowling unit that sorely misses the hustle and consistency of the retired Ryan Harris.
He may well be favoured for October’s tour of Bangladesh over Pat Cummins or Josh Hazlewood, who missed the fifth Test with soreness in his shins.
Clarke flops on farewell, slams English pitches
There was to be no individual grand finale for Michael Clarke, who made only 15 to close a miserable tour in which he managed just 132 runs at an average 16.50 – the worst record of any Aussie batsman (except tail-ender Nathan Lyon) who played all five Tests.
Online bookmakers Sportsbet and CrownBet.com ran a collection of Ashes specials for Clarke’s last Test, but ‘Pup’ never even threatened to score a fifty, a century, or beat incoming skipper Steve Smith in the player head-to-head markets.
Nor did he mimic the great Sir Donald Bradman by ending his career with a duck at The Oval – a scenario, which was paying $17 odds at CrownBet.
The departing skipper finished his four-year tenure with a mixed legacy in Ashes cricket, with the 5-0 whitewash of 2013-14 bookended by two rather tame defeats away from home.
And after a tour in which not one Test match made it to a fifth day, Clarke offered some form of excuse by suggesting the England hierarchy had too much control over pitch conditions from venue to venue.
“I’d like to see groundsmen around the world – not just here – have the courage to go with what they think is a good cricket wicket,” he told the press after the match.
“I think we’ve seen in the first two Test matches a lot of talk from the media and the commentators… about how flat the wickets were, yet those two Test matches were over in four days. One team won and one team lost. The next three are over in two and a half and three days.
“I think Test cricket is a five-day battle. I want to see good and fair cricket for both batters and bowlers. I think that’s the way the game should be played – and, most importantly, I want to see a winner and a loser.
“But if the groundsman feels he knows how to produce a good wicket that will be a great battle of Test match cricket then I’d like to see them back themselves and go with that and not be persuaded by what’s said in the media or what the commentators say.”
Clarke also insisted that a home captain and coach would never be allowed to coerce and cajole Australian pitch curators the way Alastair Cook and Trevor Bayliss have allegedly done with the English ground staff this series.
“I don’t know what influence the ECB had… and to be honest I don’t know what influence they [Cricket Australia] have in Australia either,” he said.
“If I go to the groundsman at the Gabba and say ‘I want it to be a turner like the SCG’ he’ll absolutely laugh at me. It might be different around the world.
“You’re given a role, a responsibility, and a job and you want to be able to do your best at that. I’ve got a feeling, from the conversations I’ve had with a lot of the groundsmen in this country, they’re a little bit disappointed they haven’t been able to do as they’ve wanted to do.”
Cook urges ‘wonderful’ Bell to stay on
Another Ashes stalwart who may well have played his final Test series is Ian Bell, who now joins Ian Botham as one of only two England players to have won the urn five times.
After an inconsistent 12 months or so with the bat in all forms of the game, the 33-year-old is said to be umming and ahhing over whether or not to call time on his career before the upcoming tours to the UAE and South Africa.
Alastair Cook, however, believes Bell still has plenty to offer an England side which is high on potential but perhaps a little short on Test experience.
“He still has a big part to play,” the England captain said in the post-match press conference at the The Oval.
“He’s an absolutely wonderful player; a class player. I haven’t actually heard exactly what Belly has said but he’s a class player and I hope he’s around for a few more years.
“I think it’s such an emotional time over the last 10 days in terms of emotional highs and what we’ve just experienced – and everyone is pretty tired – that what you say in an interview now might not be what you believe deep down.”
Cook had hoped to become the first skipper in England’s history to secure a 4-1 Ashes victory on home soil, but he admitted that he and his charges struggled to find the same kind of energy that fuelled their series-winning performance at Nottingham.
“Maybe we underestimated the emotional high from Trent Bridge and how hard it would be to get back up to that level you really need to be at to beat Australia,” said Cook.
“Of course we’d love to be sitting here at 4-1 rather than 3-2. We were off the pace in this game.
“You can kind of understand it. All the time [at the pre-series training camp] in Spain it was about winning three games. The mind has such a powerful effect on you as a player. It’s a little bit disappointing but I’m not going to worry about it, to be brutally honest.”
LOVE him or hate him, Michael Clarke is one of the finest cricketers of his generation.
Australia’s 43rd Test captain, who last week retired after the Australians’ embarrassing innings and 78 run loss to the English in the fourth Ashes Test, whacked 8626 runs across his career, which is good enough for fourth most by an Australian all time.
He cracked 151 on his Test debut, the fifth highest total by a debutante in test history and has a highest score of 329 against bitter enemy India – the fifth highest score by a Test captain.
His 1595 runs in the 2012 calendar year were the most by an Australian and the fourth most all time, and came at an average of 106.33. He made four double centuries that year – the most in a calendar year ever.
Those are glittering numbers.
But more recently, times have been tough.
He’s past the fifty mark just once in his past 11 innings and averages just a tick over 16 this Ashes series.
He fell on his sword after the debacle at Trent Bridge and, despite his stacked resume, copped it from many sides in the days after.
He was forced to defend his captaincy after former players claimed he was unable to bring the team together off the field, labelling allegations of player unrest as “a load of s***.”
“When you don’t perform there’s always going to be Chinese whispers and ‘he says, she says’,” Clarke said.
“At the end of the day the players are the ones who walk onto the field, we have to perform and we haven’t performed well enough.
“I can guarantee you the feeling in this group is exceptional.
“There’s no disharmony in this group whatsoever.
“The players are as tight as any team I’ve been a part of.
“Travelling in different cars? What a load of s***.
“Wives and girlfriends being on tour is a distraction? What a load of s***.
“That’s absolute garbage.
“I’ll give back 10 of my Test hundreds if it wasn’t for my beautiful wife, Kyly.
“The amount of happiness and joy that she brings to me is a massive part in pushing me to get me out of bed to try and be the best player I can be.
We tend to agree with him, so we’ve decided that there’s been enough negative press and we want to celebrate his career by taking a look at some of Clarke’s greatest Test innings.
The great man deserves a medal for some of these performances and we hope we hope he goes out with a bang at the Oval next week.
161* vs South Africa, Newlands, Cape Town, 2014
One of the toughest innings you will ever see from a Test cricketer.
Clark got the mother of all working overs from towering Proteas seamer Morne Morkel.
The barrage was one of the most hostile in recent memory, but the dogged captain would not be budged.
One of the knocks on Clarke had always been that the rock star lifestyle, flashy cars and fast women had made him a bit soft and susceptible under fire.
This innings would put that to rest.
People still talk about the day Clarke survived Morne Morkel.
128 vs India, Adelaide Oval, Adelaide, 2014
Yep, 128 would seem like just another routine score for a guy who had whacked century after century in his long Test career.
That’s until you look at the circumstances.
This century came one week after Clarke farewelled fallen friend Phil Hughes, who was tragically killed when hit on the neck by a bouncer during a shield game.
It rocked the cricket world to its core and could have been the catalyst for a ruined Australian summer.
And no one would have blamed the emotionally scarred Aussies if it did.
But Clarke wasn’t having it.
He delivered the Eulogy at a tearful service for Hughes just a week before he walked out on the Adelaide Oval to confront the Indians.
And it would become one of the most iconic cricket innings of all time as he looked to the sky to honour his mate, having gone through two days of chronic back pain that had forced him to retire hurt on 60.
He returned on day two and, battling the pain and the inner demons of his mates untimely passing, made it to 128 before he was dismissed.
It’s arguably the toughest emotional innings ever played and it won him even more fans.
If there were still questions about his toughness, they were dispelled on this day as he did it for Phil.
151 vs South Africa, Newlands, Cape Town, 2011
We’ll just forget the Aussies were routed for just 47 a day after this innings.
But Pup’s 151 at Newlands was one of the grittiest innings you will ever see. None of the Australian bats could get going in trying conditions, but Clarke would not be denied.
He slammed 22 boundaries in an innings that featured just 36 and tried to throw the nation on his back in the face of a world class pace attack of Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morkel.
They couldn’t get to him, like they did the other Australian bats and it became another feather in his cap.
329* vs India, SCG, Sydney, 2012
His highest Test score in a calendar year where he reeled off more runs than any other Australian before him.
Clarke is one of just five Aussies to hit a triple century and it was fitting that it came against a side that he had such a bitter rivalry with.
Never a fan of the Indians, Clarke would have taken great joy in plundering them all over the Sydney Cricket Ground in front of his home deck fans.
You might not remember, but the Aussies were in trouble at 3/37 when he came to the crease.
But that clearly mattered little as he put the Indians to the sword, eclipsing their first innings total off his own bat.
151 v India, M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore, 2004
This kid was always going to be a future Test captain.
The young buck with the good looks and the talent to die began his love affair with the Indians with a debut century that would write him into the record books.
Coming up against Indian spin twins Harbahajan Singh and Anil Kumble – both pathologically competitive beasts, Clarke reeled off a superb 151 that featured 18 fours and four sixes, announcing himself to the cricket world as the next big thing.
His mastery of spin would become a feature of his career.
259* vs South Africa, Gabba, Brisbane, 2012
Yep, 2012 again.
And South Africa.
Notice a pattern yet?
Clarke added to his legendary 2012 season with a double ton after striding to the crease with the Australians teetering at three for 40 odd.
It was not unlike his triple ton against the Indians, except it didn’t reach those heights, but would still become his second highest score and help etch himself into the record books for his performance across the calendar year.
Clarke smashed 26 boundaries in the innings and didn’t give a chance.
230 v South Africa, Adelaide Oval, Adelaide, 2012
Another day, another double ton in 2012.
Seriously, the cricketing Gods must have been smiling on Clarke that year.
The best bowling attack in the world was again put to the sword by a devastating Clarke innings.
Again, he as forced to the crease with Australians on the brink, this time at 3/55.
And again he provided the answer.
The double century came on the opening day of the Test and featured 40 boundaries and one six.
It came off just 220 balls against the best bowling attack in the world and it looked effortless.
Probably his signature inning for pure batting flair and speed of scoring.
Morkel will never forget being whacked for four five times in an over and neither will we.
136 v England, Lord’s, London, 2009
Since he’s about to play his last Test against England, we’ll sign off with a classic against the Poms.
The Aussies were terrible on this tour in 2009, handing England the Ashes.
But it wasn’t for lack of effort on Clarke’s behalf.
English seamer Freddie Flintoff was in the form of his life and the Aussies were set a chase of 522.
It looked possible with Clarke at the crease, the hardening youngster buckling down to negotiate 136. But he fell early on the last day and that was all she wrote for the Australians.
Fifth Test – starts 11:00am local time on Thursday, August 20, 2015 at Kennington Oval, London
England – 2.30 at CrownBet.com
Draw – $4.50 at Sportsbet
Australia – $2.62 at www.Bet365.com
Bruised, battered and thoroughly humbled, Australia will be playing for pride alone when the final Test of Ashes 2015 kicks off this Thursday at The Oval.
Online bookmaker CrownBet has the tourists at $2.62 odds to win the dead rubber in what will be Michael Clarke’s last appearance in international cricket.
Cricket Australia has announced that Steve Smith will assume the Test captaincy at the conclusion of the Ashes series, with the opinion-splitting David Warner stepping up as vice captain in what many see as a somewhat daring appointment.
Should the Aussies see off Clarke in the kind of style he deserves, a 3-2 series scoreline would flatter a side that was utterly obliterated by England at both Edgbaston and Trent Bridge.
They also struggled in their recent tour match against Northamptonshire, with late runs from Pat Cummins (82*) and Nathan Lyon (41) saving the Australians from an embarrassing defeat at the County Ground.
There were red faces among the selectors nonetheless after another impressive performance from Mitchell Marsh, who tore through the Hants top order with four wickets for 56 before racking up 68 with the bat.
The West Australian allrounder was dropped for the fourth Test in favour of his brother, Shaun, who managed a grand total of two runs for the match in the number four slot.
Australian head coach Darren Lehmann admitted after the Nottingham debacle that the selection panel had made a huge blunder in switching the Marshes, so Mitch is expected to reclaim his spot for the fifth Test in London.
Cummins, who cleaned up the tail with three wickets at Wantage Road, could also come in for just his second Test appearance, with Josh Hazlewood a chance to miss after indifferent displays at Birmingham and Notts.
England ($2.30 at CrownBet), meanwhile, probably won’t change much as they look to put the finishing touches on yet another successful Ashes series on home soil – their fourth in a row since 2005.
And as the hosts have never won more than three Tests in an Ashes series on their own patch, you can bet Alastair Cook and company will keep their feet firmly on the gas as they look to make it 4-1.
The England captain said in a recent interview that he was uncertain of his future before the 2015 Ashes, but that no such doubts linger any longer as he aims to make history at Kennington.
Asked whether he would continue as skipper, Cook told the Daily Mail: “I pretty much decided last Sunday.
“I woke up and immediately started thinking about trying to win the Ashes 4-1 and then about what we will have to do to win against Pakistan.
“It came quickly to me to start planning ahead and that told me that I probably wanted to carry on a bit longer.
“It absolutely has been on my mind. At the start of this summer I didn’t know what was going to happen and I wasn’t sure if I would continue beyond the Ashes.
“But while you’ve still got the opportunity to be England captain and you’ve still got more to give, which I now feel I have, then you need to carry on and give it your all.”
Cook’s bid for an historic 4-1 Ashes win could be bolstered by the return of veteran seamer Jimmy Anderson, who missed the third and fourth Tests after suffering a side strain during England’s loss at Lord’s last month.
Anderson’s fitness could mean a tough call over whether to keep Mark Wood or Steven Finn, both of whom have provided some quality support for man of the series Stuart Broad.
The only other major selection issue for the Three Lions is the second opener’s slot, as Adam Lyth has scored a paltry 86 runs at 12.28 in seven innings this series.
2015 Ashes squads
England: Alastair Cook (C), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler, Steven Finn, Adam Lyth, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Mark Wood.
Australia: Michael Clarke (C), Fawad Ahmed, Pat Cummins, Brad Haddin, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Peter Nevill, Chris Rogers, Peter Siddle, Steven Smith, David Warner, Shane Watson, Adam Voges.
Fifth Test match predictions
Match result – England to win ($2.30 at CrownBet)
Draw no bet – England ($1.80 at www.Luxbet.com)
Highest opening partnership – Australia ($1.80 at Sportsbet)
While Australia may be more competitive here than in the last two Tests, it’s hard to ignore a confident England outfit which still has plenty to play for – namely, that elusive 4-1 scoreline.
Joe Root is one of the best bats on the planet right now, Stuart Broad is in the form of his life, and the whole camp is full of rare confidence and purpose.
The forecast is cloudy but dry in Surrey from Thursday onwards, so a draw seems unlikely in a series where no Test has lasted longer than four days.
If there is some unexpected wet weather, or if the Kia Oval pitch proves as batter-friendly as the Lord’s one did, $1.80 match odds on a draw no bet for England is pretty good value.
There’s some good money to be had on the Aussies, too – for even though Ali Cook is in fine spirits, you have to back the excellent Chris Rogers and Dave Warner to continue their tandem act at the top of the Australian order.
Top team batsman betting
England – Joe Root ($3.75 at William Hill)
The 24-year-old Yorkshiremen leads all comers with 443 runs in Ashes 2015, including two centuries and two fifties. He is England’s best player – and the world’s top Test batsman, according to the ICC rankings – so he has to be your first option to lead the hosts’ run-making efforts at The Oval.
Australia – David Warner ($4.50 at Luxbet.com)
While never quite hitting his highest notes, Australia’s pugnacious southpaw has been a rare consistent performer with four half-centuries this series. Buoyed by his appointment as vice captain, we could see Warner really unleash as the visitors seek to salvage some pride at the last.
Best value bets for most wickets
England – Stuart Broad ($3.50 at Bet365)
While he’s been a fine cricketer for many years now, few could have predicted just how much damage Broad would inflict upon the Baggy Greens this English summer. His eight wickets for 15 in the first innings at Trent Bridge ranks among the all-time great Ashes bowling displays, while his series tally of 21 scalps at 18.09 makes him the obvious favourite to keep knocking over Aussie batsmen.
Australia – Mitchell Starc ($3.60 at www.Bet365.com)
None of the Aussies’ much-lauded quicks have shown any sustained form on this tour, but limited-overs specialist Starc has been the most dangerous, the most often. With talk that Hazlewood might sit out for Cummins, Starc – who has 18 Ashes wickets at a 39.4 strike rate – looks the best bet at Kennington.
Michael Clarke specials markets
Two of the best 2015 Ashes betting sites, CrownBet.com and Sportsbet.com, are running a stack of Test match specials to celebrate Michael Clarke’s final appearance for Australia. Here are some of the hottest cricket props and exotics for Pup’s last stand:
To ‘do a Bradman’ and make a first innings duck – $17 at CrownBet
To finish his career with a 50.00+ batting average – $21 at CrownBet
To score a fifty in the match – $1.60 at Sportsbet
To score a century in the match – $4.50 at Sportsbet
To score a double century in the match – $21 at Sportsbet
To score a triple century in the match – $81 at Sportsbet
To outscore new captain Steve Smith head to head – $2.40 at CrownBet
To take a wicket in the match – $7 at CrownBet
To hit a six in the match – $2.75 at Sportsbet
To score a century, hit a six, take a catch and take a wicket – $67 at Sportsbet