After a slow day at the Oval yesterday, Day 4 beckons with England trailing Australia but some 245 runs with 6 wickets still in hand. There will be another packed house at the Oval desperate to see a contest and to see if England can go past the follow on and press towards a draw. I say draw because it seems like there is no other result open to England in this game. Australian fans in the ground and watching late into the night will obviously be hoping for a more fruitful day.
It is a big day for:
Nathan Lyon: I said yesterday in my preview that it would be a big day for Nathan Lyon on Day 3. Unfortunately he did not get as much bowling as many would have expected however his captain did not deign to bowl him much in the first 50 overs of the innings. He bowled exceptionally well on day 3 and will enjoy a further deteriorated wicket. In order for the pressure that is on him to retain his position that is seemingly on him from selectors, some further players and fans alike he will need to bowl Australia to a dominant position today otherwise that pressure will continue to rise.
Michael Clarke: I questioned some of the tactics of Michael Clarke on day 3 and he will need to show better acumen on the field today in order to lead his team to an improbable victory. Seemingly caught between attack and defence some of his fields were set strangely to say the least. He must show faith in his off spinner today and crowd the bat failing which any semblance of a chance Australia might to win this game will be gone by the lunch adjournment.
Chris Woakes: On debut and arguably batting for a place on upcoming summer tour to Australia Woakes will never have a better opportunity to solidify that spot than on Day 4. The pitch is benign and Australian bowlers are backing up after a long day in the field. Positive intent coupled with quality defence in support of the player of the series for mine, Ian Bell, will see him on the plane to Australia for mine.
What does winning the day look like?
It is simple for Australia: they must have England out by lunch time if they are to be any chance of a victory in this game. Any other result on day 4 will constitute a loss for the baggy greens.
Same as yesterday: bat, bat and then bat some more. Forget the “controversy” over the slow batting run rate of the English. There is nothing wrong with batting defensively and, indeed, batting for a draw and England proved on day 3 they can do that. A repeat on day 4 will see this game, in fact, end up a draw.
All talk will again be around the pitch today. Even the players are getting on the bandwagon (see Joe Root’s interview at the end of yesterday’s play) about the pitch being slow and difficult to score on. No matter how the day pans out here there will still be much discussion around the preparation of the wicket.
The BBC weather report states as follows:
A cloudy start with some locally heavy rain in places. Becoming brighter through the morning with some sunny intervals developing but also the risk of further showers or thunderstorms. Locally torrential downpours may lead to some localised flooding.
Needless to say it is looking likely that rain will play a part in the days play at some point.
This is the second last day of the first instalment of the Ashes for 2013/14. Both sides can gain much from a good day today. Australia can gain confidence whilst England can get back some momentum. Another interesting day beckons at the Oval.