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

  • Rashid lauds Buttler and Jordan heroics after England thrash USA Rashid lauds Buttler and Jordan heroics after England thrash USA

    Adil Rashid lauded the match-winning abilities of Chris Jordan and Jos Buttler after England secured their T20 World Cup semi-final spot on Sunday.

    England smashed the United States with a 10-wicket victory as Buttler powered an eye-catching 83, smashing six fours and seven sixes from just 38 balls.

    Matthew Mott's white-ball side reached their 116-run target with a huge 62 deliveries to spare, sealing their place in the last four with ease after only just sneaking into the Super 8s phase.

    Yet the convincing victory would not have been possible without Jordan, who managed four wickets from five balls – including a hat-trick – to end the USA's innings inside 19 overs.

    Rashid, who also took 2-13 from his four-over spell, lavished praise on the England bowler, as well as captain Buttler.

    "CJ's a match-winner," Rashid said in his post-match interview. "He's been doing it for a number of years, especially at the back end.

    "Jos is a world-class player and has been for many a year, and hopefully we can carry it on now in the semi-finals."

    Rashid was keen to share the credit among the entire England line-up, too.

    "All the bowlers bowled extremely well and to restrict them to 115 was very pleasing," the leg-spinner added. "Always nice to keep it tight and get an early wicket which brings the new batter in.

    "With the wind, you have to assess which end you're going to bowl. The googly's been coming out nicely, too."

    Buttler seemed intent on a one-man demolition in England's chase, crunching the United States all over the pitch, including hammering 30 runs off Harmeet Singh's ninth over.

    "I thought if we could bring our intensity we'd be too good," Buttler said. "I'm still one of the 11, I've got to do my job."

    "We've got great options. We wanted to bring Chris Jordan back, adding a bit of depth with his batting capabilities as well. A World Cup hat-trick is a great effort."

    The USA saw their World Cup run come to an end, but their victory over Pakistan will live long in the memory.

    Aaron Jones, the star of the USA for much of the tournament, hopes to have put cricket on the American map.

    "This is our first World Cup," he said. "I don't think people would have thought we'd be playing here against the big boys.

    "Hopefully this will open the eyes of the American public. We've got a lot of calls and messages of support during this World Cup."

  • Buttler stars after Jordan hat-trick as England book World Cup semi-final spot Buttler stars after Jordan hat-trick as England book World Cup semi-final spot

    England booked their place in the T20 World Cup semi-finals after sauntering to a 10-wicket thrashing of the United States on Sunday.

    Chris Jordan excelled at the end of the USA's innings, taking a hat-trick to finish with remarkable figures of 4-10, while Jos Buttler plundered 83 off 38 balls to see England over the line with 62 deliveries to spare.

    Reece Topley, who failed to take a single wicket in the defeat to South Africa, set the tone early on as he snared Andries Gous for eight in the first over.

    Though Nitish Kumar (30) and Corey Anderson (29) looked to be finding a rhythm for the tournament co-hosts, it did not last long, with Jordan entering the fray to get four wickets in five balls and bowl the USA out for just 115 in 18.5 overs.

    England’s openers got all the work done themselves as Phil Salt scored 25, while Buttler did all the heavy lifting in his knock, smashing six fours and seven sixes, one of which hit the stadium roof.

    Matthew Mott's side are the first team through to the last four thanks to their significant net run-rate advantage over West Indies and South Africa, who meet later on Sunday.

    Data Debrief: Firing on all cylinders

    Jordan became the eighth player to take a hat-trick of wickets at the T20 World Cup, but he also broke a record out in the field; he now has the most catches by a fielder (47) in T20Is for England, overtaking Eoin Morgan's 46.

    Buttler got his first half-century of the tournament in this match, and scored 32 of his 83 runs in a single over, scoring five sixes in the ninth before getting another at the start of the 10th to seal the win for England.

  • France v Poland: Deschamps remains calm despite Les Bleus' struggle for goals France v Poland: Deschamps remains calm despite Les Bleus' struggle for goals

    France manager Didier Deschamps says he is "not concerned" with his side's recent struggles in front of goal ahead of their final Euro 2024 group game against Poland on Tuesday.

    Les Bleus are all but through to the knockout stages of the European Championships, sitting joint-top of Group D with four points, but need to avoid defeat to ensure progression.

    Yet France's only goal at the tournament so far has come courtesy of Maximilian Wober turning into his own net in the opening 1-0 victory over Austria, before a goalless draw with the Netherlands on Friday.

    France failed to score with any of their 15 shots in a wasteful display against the Oranje as Deschamps went without Kylian Mbappe, who was only fit enough for the bench due to his broken nose.

    Asked about Les Bleus' profligate showings, Deschamps responded: "I am not concerned. It is just the name of the game.

    "Sometimes you have countless chances and don't hit the back of the net, and sometimes it is the other way round.

    "I would be worried if there were not any chances. Efficiency at high-level football is important, and it is something we can work on.

    On Mbappe's fitness, Deschamps added: "Everything is going in the right direction; he is recovering from the shock, there is the haematoma part which will diminish each day, he will get used to his mask, which modifies the vision a little. But he is fine."

    Poland became the first side to be eliminated from the tournament following France's draw, after they lost their opening matches to the Netherlands (2-1) and Austria (3-1).

    They have faced their own problems without Robert Lewandowski, who missed the start of the tournament due to a hamstring injury before appearing from the bench against Austria.

    "We are depressed by this result, but we still have one more game in our group, and we need to put our best foot forward and try to win three points," Lewandowski said.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    France – N'Golo Kante

    N'Golo Kante was a surprise inclusion in Deschamps' squad for the tournament after a two-year absence from the national side, but his performances so far have earned him the Player of the Match award in their opening two games.

    The midfielder has made more major tournament appearances without losing than any other European player, with France unbeaten in all 17 games he has played across the Euros and World Cup (W12 D5).

    Poland – Piotr Zielinski

    Poland may be out of the tournament but will be desperate to go down fighting, with Piotr Zielinski again expected to be key here.

    Zielinski has been directly involved in more shots than any other Poland player at Euro 2024 (11 – seven shots, four chances created), as well as completing the most passes for his side (68) across the first two rounds.

    MATCH PREDICTION: FRANCE WIN

    This will only be the third meeting between France and Poland in a major tournament, and the first at the Euros. Poland won a third-place play-off match 3-2 at the 1982 World Cup, while France triumphed 3-1 in the round of 16 at the 2022 World Cup.

    Including all competitions, France are unbeaten in their last eight meetings with Poland (W4 D4), since losing a friendly match 4-0 in August 1982.

    Les Bleus simply need to avoid defeat to qualify for the knockout stages, and they are unbeaten in their eight games in the group stage at the Euros under Deschamps (W4 D4), with their last such defeat coming on MD 3 versus Sweden at Euro 2012 (2-0), under Laurent Blanc.

    Meanwhile, Poland have lost both of their games at Euro 2024 so far but have never previously suffered three defeats in a single group stage at a major tournament.

    Poland have lost their final group stage match in three of their four previous appearances at the European Championships, with the exception being a 1-0 win against Ukraine in 2016 – the only time they have reached the knockout rounds of the competition.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    France – 73.9%

    Draw – 14.8%

    Poland – 11.2%

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.