Australia v England, 5th Test, SydneyEngland Aim for Ashes Series Win in SCG02-Jan-2011 13:01:00 GMT
Sydney: England will carry an air of unfinished business into the final Test of the Ashes series starting Monday, despite having already ensured it retains the famous urn.
England cannot lose the series after its emphatic win in the fourth Test at Melbourne, which allowed it to retain the Ashes by virtue of winning the last series in England, but the Sydney Test offers the enticing prospect of its first Ashes series win in Australia since 1987.
Australia enter the final Test of an unsuccessful series under an unpopular stand-in captain, but will be eager to square the series, save some face and begin a much-needed rebuilding process.
Michael Clarke is replacing regular skipper Ricky Ponting, who has a broken finger.
While teammates have rallied around Clarke and pledged their support, newspaper polls have shown only eight percent of Australians support his promotion to the captaincy.
Ponting is not a universally popular captain, but is admired for his past successes and embodying the qualities of doggedness, grit and fortitude associated with the captaincy since the days of Allan Border and Steve Waugh.
Clarke, 29, is more of a flamboyant character with his bleached hair and very public breakup with his former model fiance.
Teammates have worked this week to alter that image, to paint Clarke as a more mature and driven individual.
Hussey said Clarke had been an energetic captain when leading the national side in limited-overs games.
Wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, who will be Clarke's vice-captain, said the public perception of Clarke could quickly change.
"The reaction with the public with all our players changes from week to week," he said. "You're one good innings away, or sometimes one good cover drive away, from the support being with you.
England has been able to enjoy a relatively untroubled preparation for the final Test, its players showing every sign of delight at Australia's discomfort.
Off-spinner Graeme Swann twisted the knife a little on Saturday, saying he was at a loss to understand Australia's decision to omit its most experienced spinner, Nathan Hauritz, from its Ashes squad. Swann suggested Hauritz's absence had helped England.
Australia: Michael Clarke (capt), Doug Bollinger, Xavier Doherty, Brad Haddin (wk), Michael Hussey, Ben Hilfenhaus, Mitchell Johnson, Simon Katich, Usman Khawaja, Peter Siddle, Steven Smith, Shane Watson, Marcus North, Ryan Harris, Michael Beer, Phillip Hughes
England: Andrew Strauss (capt), Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Ian Bell, Eoin Morgan, Matt Prior (wk), Steve Davies (wk), Tim Bresnan, James Anderson, Steven Finn, Chris Tremlett, Monty Panesar, Graeme Swann
Pitch and conditions
According to David Saker, England's revered bowling coach and the architect of their strategies for all five Tests, it will also swing at the SCG. James Anderson will be licking his lips, but so too Mitchell Johnson. The curator Tom Parker says win the toss and bat, and to expect spin from day three.
Stats and trivia
- Australia's record at the SCG is formidable, with 14 wins in 16 Tests dating back to 1996.
- However, England are the only side to have beaten them at the venue in that time. Their 225-run win in 2002-03 was their last win on Australian soil until last month's Adelaide Test .
- Alastair Cook needs 23 more runs to reach 600 for the series, a landmark achieved by just six England batsmen in Australia, most recently Michael Vaughan (633) in 2002-03.
January 3-7, 2011
Start time 10:30 (23:30 GMT prev day)