Cricket

100 up for captains as England aim to save Ashes

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England face Australia in Perth tomorrow morning knowing they cannot lose the third Test of the series which would hand the hosts their first Ashes victory since 2006/07 while both captains celebrate their 100th Test.

The tourists were well beaten at Brisbane and Adelaide, both by a margin greater than 200 runs as the returning Mitchell Johnson secured man of the match performances at both venues. However, there seems to be a feel of defiance around the England side with changes expected to me made after coach Andy Flower admitted he isn’t afraid to make big decisions.

Ben Stokes made a solid debut at the Adelaide Oval after replacing Jonathan Trott which included taking two first innings wickets and scoring 28 runs in the second innings while batting for over two hours looking to save the game for his country. England have many options which could see Gary Ballance come into the side while Tim Bresnan, Steven Finn, Chris Tremlett or Boyd Rankin are battling it out for a place in the bowling unit.

Monty Panesar is likely to be stepped down with the WACA expected to be a fast, bouncy wicket in Western Australia and not suiting two spinners. The top order is likely to stay the same which will see captain Alastair Cook lead his side on his 100th Test for his country, following in the footsteps of Kevin Pietersen who reached the landmark at the Gabba.

Cook has labelled the next five days as his ‘biggest Test yet’ and with the Ashes on the line it is a valid comment. England need to at least secure a draw to keep the series alive heading into the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne.

A draw would mean Cook’s men would have to win at the MCG and Sydney to retain the Ashes with a 2-2 result. The history books are against England though, they have only been victorious once at the ground which was in 1978, failing to win on 11 occasions making it a happy hunting ground for Australia.

Cook made his debut against India in Nagpur in 2006 and he has told BBC Sport the Test at Perth is his biggest.

“After what's happened so far, I'd say so. Your next challenge is always the toughest.

"Our confidence has taken a hit after the first two matches but the squad has made a real conscious effort. We have to look forward, rather than look back.

"I don't think it's been about lifting the players. That hunger and desire has always been there in this side. We have got another opportunity to show it this week."

Meanwhile, in a strange coincidence his opposing number Michael Clarke will make his 100th Test Match appearance after making his debut against India in 2004 and that is something he is hugely proud off.

"It's a huge honour for me to join the 100 club, one I never thought I'd get when I started playing.

"It is a special day, and it would make it even more special if we can produce a performance we are capable off."

"In regards to being your 100th Test, it’s not a focus at all. It's fantastic that I have been able to play 99 Tests for my country and it's something that I'm proud of.

"But it's about having a chance to win the Ashes and continue to perform like we have in first two Tests."

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Topics:
Cricket
England cricket
Australia cricket
The Ashes

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