England could do with Don Bradman's services for the remainder of the Ashes.
England could do with Don Bradman's services for the remainder of the Ashes.

Mission Impossible: Poms’ 80-year reality check

AUSTRALIA has the chance to wrap up the Ashes at the WACA Ground in Perth in the third Test starting Thursday (1:30pm AEDT).

Find out everyithing you need to know in our Ultimate Guide

 

THE PREVIEW

THIS is the extraordinary challenge facing England's disastrous Ashes campaign.

In 140 years of Ashes contests, only once has a team climbed the mountain England is at the bottom of: a 2-0 deficit.

And that mob, the 1936-7 Australian team, had a bloke called Bradman who steered them to a famous 3-2 series win. And it took two double-centuries and a big ton from the Don to save the day for the hosts.

England had Australia on the ropes two matches into the series, battering Bradman's side by 322 runs at the Gabba before winning by an innings and 22 runs at the SCG.

Crucially for Gubby Allen's side they had kept Bradman quiet up to that point, with the great man registering consecutive ducks in the second innings at the Gabba and first in Sydney.

Bradman went on to post scores of 270, 212 and 169 in the final three matches as Australia roared home to win 3-2. He finished the series with 810 runs at an average of 90 - sub-par by his standards.

 

Joe Root needs to channel his inner Don Bradman.
Joe Root needs to channel his inner Don Bradman.

 

No one in the current England squad looks like pulling off anything like that and even if they could it might not be enough.

Alongside Bradman's nigh unfathomable feat, it took help from above to open the door for Australia.

The game's greatest ever batsman made the bold call of declaring Australia's first innings at 9-200 in the first innings - a rare move in a timeless Test. With rain delaying play on day two, Bradman sent England in to bat on a pitch that was suddenly playing tricks. A pitch so devilish the touring side opted to declare at 9-76.

Bradman in turn majorly rejigged his batting order, dropping himself to No.7 and swapping regular openers Jack Fingleton and Bill Brown with tailenders Bill O'Reilly and Chuck Fleetwood-Smith. It worked perfectly, with Bradman (270) and Fingleton (136) carrying Australia to a total of 564 after pitch dried up. The Australians went on to win by 365 runs and rode that momentum home to a 3-2 win.

Nowadays pitches are covered so no matter what the weather does in Perth, such a Test is unlikely to save England this time around.

 

 

SQUADS

AUSTRALIA: Steve Smith (capt), David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird

Australia look set to make one big change to the XI that won the first two Tests comfortably, with Mitchell Marsh tipped to replace the out-of-sorts Peter Handscomb.

Handscomb can consider himself unlucky if he gets axed. It was only three Tests ago that he played a match-winning innings in Chittagong. Three middling innings (14, 36, 12) this series hardly feels like enough of a reason to drop a man with a Test average of 47.35.

Smith hinted Australia was leaning towards the all-rounder on match eve, with conditions dictating the need for a fifth bowling option.

Likely XI: David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Shaun Marsh, Mitch Marsh, Tim Paine, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood

ENGLAND: Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman, Joe Root (capt), Dawid Malan, Gary Ballance, James Vince, Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Mason Crane, Ben Foakes, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Jake Ball, Craig Overton, Tom Curran.

Coach Trevor Bayliss hinted England would retain the same XI that played the Adelaide Test at the WACA and it's hard to see them making any changes - no one on the bench is demanding selection.

One man whose name could come up at the selection table is leg-spinner Mason Crane, giving the touring team a genuine spin-bowling option.

Considering James Anderson, Chris Woakes and Craig Overton each impressed at different stages at Adelaide and Stuart Broad is virtually un-droppable, it's hard to see where Crane would fit in.

Likely XI: Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Joe Root, Dawid Malan, Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Chris Woakes, Craig Overton, Stuart Broad, James Anderson

 

 

Joe Root needs to channel his inner Don Bradman.
Joe Root needs to channel his inner Don Bradman.

 

 

HOW TO WATCH

The Ashes will be broadcast on Channel Nine, while ABC Radio and Triple M will also be covering all five Tests.

WEATHER FORECAST

Thursday: 27, cloudy

Friday: 29, cloudy

Saturday: 25, cloudy

Sunday: 19, showers

Monday: 20, showers

 

FORM

 

LADBROKES ODDS

Australia: $1.50

England: $4.75

Draw: $5.50

 

 

UMPIRES

Marais Erasmus, Chris Gaffaney

3rd: Aleem Dar

 

 

FIXTURES

First Test: Australia won by ten wickets

Second Test: Australia won by 120 runs

December 14-18: Third Test at the WACA, Perth

December 26-30: Fourth Test at the MCG, Melbourne.

January 4-8: Fifth Test at the SCG, Sydney.


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