In its final farewell match of International cricket, the WACA will be hosting arguably the most important game of the series with England desperate for a win to keep their series alive. Australia on the other hand, have the potential to regain the Ashes in Perth after dominant performances in Brisbane and Adelaide.
Australian skipper Steve Smith would be delighted with the start his side has made to this 2017-18 Ashes series. Although they’re 2-0 up in the series, the Australians are fully aware of how quickly the momentum can change in a big series such as this. Having said that, they have comprehensively outplayed England in both the Brisbane and Adelaide tests which really has sent a message to the opposition that they’re not going to back down against an under performing away team. The visitors managed to keep Steve Smith pretty quiet in Adelaide, but that only intensified the urge to perform on the big stage from a resilient Shaun Marsh who produced a timely century when it was most needed for the Australians. Marsh’s unbeaten-126 off 231 deliveries was everything the selectors could have asked from him and more, the 34-year-old has almost-certainly cemented his spot in the side after that gritty knock.
With the WACA test approaching, some of Australia’s key batsmen will be looking to cash in on a wicket that rewards risk takers willing to play their shots, it’s a bouncy wicket that has a lighting-quick outfield. This could be the match where David Warner opens the shoulders and unleashes one of his slogging onslaughts, he’s been tentative so far in this Ashes series which is unusual. Warner has an exceptional record at this ground in tests as well, he’s averaging 89.22 with three centuries in his five matches in Perth. After being scrutinized for his performance in Brisbane, No. 3 batsman Usman Khawaja answered his critics with a convincing half century in Adelaide which should give him some confidence heading into the third test. Apart from Peter Handscomb who is looking a bit vulnerable at the crease, Australia head into this third test oozing confidence in their batting order with the likes of Smith, Marsh, Warner and Paine all looking the goods, even Pat Cummins has been impressive in the lower order.
Their bowling has been just as dominant, if not more prolific than their batting in the series. Australia have an extremely organized bowling unit, consisting of three pace bowlers and a spinner at the top of his game at the moment. Yep, England just haven’t been able to handle Mitchell Starc’s searing pace at all and haven’t really asserted their dominance against Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood either. Australia’s No. 1 spearhead has picked up 14 wickets in his past two tests, just indicating why Starc is one of the worlds best premier fast bowlers. It’s not only Starc England have been struggling against, the off-spin of Nathan Lyon has well & truly added to their Ashes-woes in the series as Gary the GOAT took down the Poms in the first innings of the Adelaide test. Lyon’s consistency & ability to hit a dangerous area time and time again really has troubled them. Thankfully for England, Perth is not renown for it’s spinning wicket which should leave Lyon on the outer a bit, but that only makes conditions even more seam friendly for the quicks with the ball zipping off the WACA deck at high speed.
The visitors need to find some inspiration and fast, this series has already began to get out of control which is just what Joe Root would have been dreading at the start of the tour. They have so many potholes in the team that it’s starting to become a huge concern as the 2017-18 Ashes ventures on, one of them being their captains inability to stand up when he’s most needed. Seen as one of the best current day batsmen in the world, the only criticism of Joe Root is his inability to translate his good starts into centuries that could potentially put him in the category of Virat Kohli and Steve Smith, but that’s the problem he faces. And at the moment, his personal faults are hurting the team who are lacking a real leader through their on-field performances.
In the same conversation, Root has probably been their best batsman of the series with two half centuries. Experienced opener Alastair Cook looks out of his element once again in test match cricket, and surprise surprise, it’s happening in Australia again. For someone who’s scored 11691 runs and averages 45.84 in test cricket, Cook appears to have less confidence than Mark Stoneman who has only played five tests for England. After the positive signs in Brisbane, both James Vince and Dawid Malan looked unsettled & vulnerable at the wicket which only fed the bowlers appetite once they were seen as the weak links in the line-up, and Moeen Ali failed to step up when he was required in Adelaide which really does sum up their performance with the bat in the two games played so far. After naming an unchanged XI for the third test at the WACA, the ECB selectors will be counting on Cook, Vince, Malan and Ali to repay them with some big knocks, and Joe Root must be the focal point of the England innings with a solid contribution at some point in the test.
England’s bowling attack is one area of the game that they can come close to matching if it’s fully functioning, but at the present time it’s far from that with Moeen Ali struggling with a finger injury and Stuart Broad down on his usual output wickets-wise. One positive thing to take out of that Adelaide test was Chris Woakes response after a poor bowling test in Brisbane, turning his fortunes around in Adelaide and joining forces with Jimmy Anderson to take down the Australians for 138 in their second innings. Woakes picked up 4/36 which included the wickets of Warner, Smith, Marsh and Paine whom are all very capable batsmen. That will definitely give England some spirit heading into this WACA test match knowing that this pitch has got plenty of life in it for the fast bowlers. Up until Australia’s second innings in Adelaide, star-quick James Anderson hadn’t had the impact he would’ve been hoping for which was evident in his body language, but credit to Anderson who got himself fired up with the new ball in the second innings and finished with his first five-wicket haul in Australia. Debutante Craig Overton also impressed with his tireless work rate in Australia’s first innings with the ball, and was England’s top scorer with the bat in their first innings batting at No. 9.
Top 5 fantasy picks | Australia | 3rd test | Perth
- David Warner
- Mitchell Starc
- Pat Cummins
- Steve Smith
- Usman Khawaja
Wildcard pick – Cameron Bancroft
Top 5 fantasy picks | England | 3rd test | Perth
- Joe Root
- Jame Anderson
- Jonny Bairstow
- Stuart Broad
- Chris Woakes
Wildcard pick – Dawid Malan
Team News | Australia
The Australian selectors have recalled all-rounder Mitchell Marsh for this third test at the WACA, although it hasn’t been confirmed he’ll feature in the side. However, Peter Handscomb’s persisting struggles at the crease has opened the door for Marsh with captain Steve Smith hinting that they could possibly bring in Marsh due to his bowling attributes anyway.
Australia (possible) – 1. Cameron Bancroft 2. David Warner 3. Usman Khawaja 4. Steve Smith (c) 5. Shaun Marsh 6. Mitchell Marsh 7. Tim Paine (wk) 8. Mitchell Starc 9. Pat Cummins 10. Nathan Lyon 11. Josh Hazlewood.
Team News | England
England have announced an unchanged XI for the third test at the WACA, they’ve only swapped Moeen Ali and Jonny Bairstow in the batting order.
England (possible) – 1. Alastair Cook 2. Mark Stoneman 3. James Vince 4. Joe Root (c) 5. Dawid Malan 6. Jonny Bairstow (wk) 7. Moeen Ali 8. Chris Woakes 9. Craig Overton 10. Stuart Broad 11. James Anderson.