Ashes 2021-22: Australia return to happy Hobart hunting ground strong favourites for 4-0 win

By Sports Desk January 12, 2022

Australia hold a perfect Ashes day-night record and England will have to put up another huge fight to prevent them from ending the series with a win in the historic Test in Hobart.

The tourists avoided a whitewash when they batted out a draw on a tense final day at the Sydney Cricket Ground last week, James Anderson and Stuart Broad preventing Australia from taking the one wicket they needed to go 4-0 up.

They will start a first-ever Ashes Test in Hobart on Friday with Pat Cummins' side strong favourites to make it three Test wins out of three over England under the lights.

The series finale was due to be staged in Perth, but was moved due to Western Australia's border restrictions.

England have not won a Test in Australia since they came out on top at the SCG 11 years ago and they have never looked like ending that drought during this one-sided series.

Blundstone Arena has been a happy hunting ground for Australia, the hosts nine out of 13 Tests in Hobart – that 69 per cent win rate being their best at any home ground where they face played more than twice in the longest format.

A draw stopped the rot for the tourists, but they are winless in seven away Tests. It is their longest run without a victory on their travels since a 13-match barren spell from October 2016 to March 2018.

Both sides face selection dilemmas for what Australia hope will be their 150th Test victory over their fierce rivals. Their next best winning record is against West Indies (58 victories).

England, meanwhile, will simply be hoping for a win to at least take some positives from what has been a miserable tour. However, in both day-night meetings between these sides to dates, Australia have triumphed by 120 runs (in December 2017 and December 2021).

Head return leaves Harris vulnerable

Usman Khawaja could not have wished to make a bigger impact after getting the nod at the SCG, scoring a century in both innings of his first Test since August 2019.

Khawaja became the first player to plunder a ton in each innings of an SCG Test since former Australia captain Ricky Ponting 

The experienced left-hander replaced Travis Head, who missed out after testing positive for coronavirus.

Head is fit for the fifth Test and averages 62 in the series, so he is set to come back into the side. Khawaja believed he was unlikely to retain his place despite his brilliance in Sydney, though there is a possibility the 35-year-old could find himself opening, with Marcus Harris potentially making way. 

Josh Hazlewood is still unavailable due to a side injury, while Mitchell Starc says he does not need a rest and that is no surprise given his outstanding record in day-night Tests.

Billings set for Test bow

Sam Billings is poised to make his Test debut for England after Jos Buttler flew home with a broken finger.

Billings drove over 500 miles to answer an England SOS call, having been in Queensland playing for Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League.

Ben Stokes (side) and Jonny Bairstow (thumb) batted through the pain barrier in Sydney and will be checked on, with the vice-captain possibly playing only as a batter.

Rory Burns could be recalled in place of a struggling Haseeb Hameed, while Ollie Robinson will be hoping to come back into the team and head coach Chris Silverwood is back with the touring party after missing the fourth Test due to coronavirus.

Captain Joe Root (23) is one away from recording the outright second most hundreds for England in men's Tests, while he has scored 847 runs in the red-ball format in Australia – the second-most by any non-Australian player without having scored a century in the country.

Broad, meanwhile, is only four wickets shy of becoming England's second all-time leading wicket taker against Australia in men's Tests. The paceman is on 125 as it stands, three behind the late Bob Willis (128), with Ian Botham the record holder with 148.

Related items

  • Brady quiet on playing future amid retirement talk after Bucs' playoffs exit Brady quiet on playing future amid retirement talk after Bucs' playoffs exit

    Tom Brady declined to discuss his playing future amid retirement talk after almost pulling off a miracle comeback as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers crashed out of the NFL playoffs.

    The Bucs trailed 27-3 but fought back to level the game in the final quarter before eventually losing 30-27 to the Los Angeles Rams in Sunday's Divisional playoff.

    Brady threw a spectacular pass for Mike Evans for a 55-yard touchdown to make it 27-20 in the fourth quarter.

    Tampa Bay's exit comes amid growing speculation about the 44-year-old quarterback's future, with one year remaining on his Bucs contract.

    "I haven’t put a lot of thought into it. Just take it day-by-day and see where we’re at,” Brady told reporters after the game.

    Brady added: "The truth of it is I'm only thinking about this game. I'm not thinking about anything past five minutes from now."

    Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians offered no insight into the situation either, stating "that's up to Tom" when pressed on the issue.

    Brady completed 30 of 54 attempts for 329 yards and one touchdown in Sunday's defeat. The seven-time Super Bowl champion had a 67.5 percent completion rate for a career-high 5,316 yards with 43 touchdowns and 12 interceptions this season.

    The Bucs had entered the playoffs as the NFC's second seed but fell short after going all the way last season as fifth seeds.

    "Always tough losing at the end of the year," Brady said.

    "Obviously we showed a lot of fight but at the end of the day when you lose a game, you lose a game."

  • England survive to level series after astonishing West Indies onslaught England survive to level series after astonishing West Indies onslaught

    England edged out West Indies by one run in an extraordinary second T20I at Kensington Oval, just about making up for their wretched start to the series.

    There looked to be no doubt about the outcome when West Indies crumbled to 98-8 in pursuit of England's 171-8, but Akeal Hosein and Romario Shepherd both blazed innings of 44 not out to leave the home side just short on 170-8.

    Hosein finished the match with three consecutive sixes off Saqib Mahmood, whose final over cost 28 runs as West Indies' chase ended in heroic failure.

    After a nine-wicket battering on Saturday, England delivered a more competitive performance, with Reece Topley making a successful return to international cricket. For Topley, this was a first T20I appearance since facing South Africa in March 2016 and his brilliance had West Indies in immediate trouble at 6-2 in their reply to a solid England score.

    After a relatively slow start, Jason Roy carted Fabian Allen for 24 runs from the 11th over as England began to pile on the runs. Roy top-scored with 45 before he was caught just inside the ropes at long-on by Kieron Polland off Shepherd, while Moeen Ali made a useful 31 and Chris Jordan flung the bat for 27 from 15 balls.

    Topley then gave England a superb start with the ball, snaring Brandon King lbw with the second delivery of West Indies' reply before smartly running out Shai Hope.

    Nicholas Pooran had been dropped twice before James Vince held an exemplary diving catch at deep midwicket to give Moeen the wicket of the dangerman for 24 in the eighth over, and West Indies imploded from there, or so it seemed.

    Adil Rashid had Pollard and Darren Bravo pinned lbw, each time needing a review to get the decision, before Ali accounted for Jason Holder and Odean Smith in the 12th over, leaving the home side on 65-7.

    Fabian Allen followed for 12 at the start of the 16th over, but then came the big flurry as West Indies, with two wickets remaining, got to the point where they needed 38 from the final two overs. Topley temporarily applied the brakes, but Mahmood was almost powerless to resist the big-hitting ninth-wicket pair, Shepherd making his runs from 28 balls and Hosein from just 16 deliveries.


    A theme persists

    West Indies have now alternated between victory and defeat in their last five men's T20I home matches. Their lower order gave England a headache in the closing overs, but recent history pointed to West Indies probably struggling to follow up their opening win. Indeed, the last time West Indies won their first two T20Is in a calendar year was in 2016, as they beat England and Sri Lanka in consecutive matches.

    West Indies go down fighting

    The hosts looked toast when they went seven down, but the lower order made England suffer horrendously, even as West Indies fell short of the victory target. The tourists' bowlers were seriously unsettled by the big hitting of Shepherd and Hosein, and there might be a lasting psychological impact caused by that pair, ahead of the third game in the five-match series on Wednesday.

  • Milan boss Pioli stresses importance of victory over Inter after Juve stalemate Milan boss Pioli stresses importance of victory over Inter after Juve stalemate

    Milan boss Stefano Pioli believes failure to beat Inter in their next Serie A game will end their title chances and leave them to battle for a Champions League qualification spot instead.

    The Rossoneri ended the weekend four points adrift of leaders Inter having played a game more after a dire 0-0 draw with Juventus at San Siro.

    It marked the first goalless draw between the two giants in the Italian top flight since December 2007.

    Milan face their neighbours on February 5, with Pioli suggesting anything less than a win will be fatal to their Scudetto hopes.

    "We knew the games against Juventus and Inter would say a great deal about our future," he told DAZN.

    "If we don't beat Inter, then our campaign will be very similar to last season, when we won at the end to go second and risked crashing out of the Champions League places.

    "We have our way of playing and must realise that if we want to achieve something extraordinary again, we need to give everything. I saw many individual performances of a very high level today.

    "We had the right performance for our circumstances and the opposition, but were lacking precision in the penalty area.

    "We tried to be dangerous and limited Juventus to no chances. I don't think it was a tactical issue, as we had players in the box, but got the final ball wrong.

    "The state of the pitch didn't help either, as we had some bad first touches, had to take extra touches to get it under control and that slowed us down."

    Indeed, Zlatan Ibrahimovic's first-half withdrawal through injury was caused by the state of the pitch, Pioli confirmed.

    "Ibra felt pain in the Achilles tendon," he added. "He blamed the pitch, which was very hard, so we hope he can recover over the next few days."

    Milan's Pierre Kalulu was part of a defence that did not allow Juve a single shot on target and the 21-year-old wants to see an improvement in attack.

    "It's a positive statistic for everyone in the team and not just for us defenders," he told Milan TV. "We did well and must continue like this.

    "It's an important game for us and for the fans. Compared to tonight, we need to do better up front if we are to bring home the three points."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.