Fourth Test preview: England v Australia

Australia

The Ashes action moves to Durham this week for the fourth Ashes encounter, to the Riverside Ground, where England have never drawn, let alone lost, a Test and will be looking to make sure the series is sewn up.

The Ashes action moves to Durham this week for the fourth Ashes encounter, to the Riverside Ground, where England have never drawn, let alone lost, a Test and will be looking to make sure the series is sewn up.

They lead the Ashes two-nil, with the third game drawn, and have thus already retained the little urn. But a series win is what they're after, while the Australians will be far more confident going into this game, given their efforts in Manchester.

The visiting top order finally managed to pass the 300 mark in an innings, and skipper Michael Clarke went on to make a big century. Four other batsmen made half tons in the first innings, and had the rain not ruined day five, England could well have lost the game.

And of course, what is build-up to an Ashes game without a bit of scandal? This time the drama, such as it is, concerns whether or not players are using silicone tape on their bats in order to fool Hot Spot.

Both sides have obviously denied the allegations, with Kevin Pietersen pointing out that Hot Spot can save a batsman during an LBW review, so why would he try to trick it? Anyway, it seems to be a storm in a tea cup, and hopefully this Test will be one without a DRS controversy.

As for actual team news, England have called up pacemen Chris Tremlett and Graham Onions, while discarding James Taylor and the weak-bladdered Monty Panesar from their squad. Onions, the Durham veteran, is in great form at his home ground, and could possibly replace a rested Stuart Broad.

England's batting order faces no changes, with Ian Bell's thumb injury a thing of the past, and the same can be said for the Aussies. They have again left Phil Hughes and Ed Cowan on the sidelines, sticking with Shane Watson, Chris Rogers and Usman Khawaja at the top.

Teen spinner Ashton Agar's fading from sight is complete, having missed out at Old Trafford but still in the squad, he is now completely jettisoned. Jackson Bird has been called up, possibly as a replacement for Ryan Harris, should the aging paceman be deemed in need of a rest.

<b>Prediction</b><br>There's supposed to be rain throughout the match, especially on day one, which will influence the toss. Either way, England have won all four Tests here, batting first and bowling first twice each.

So we're going to say England will win this time too, but again not by much, or we could end up with another draw. It's not been a high-scoring ground lately, only going over 300 twice in 12 innings, so whichever bowling attack is best will decide the game.

<b>Key Men</b><br>For the hosts, skipper <b>Alastair Cook</b> will be eager to capitalise on the half ton he made in Manchester, having had a relatively below par series so far. He's got a good record at Chester-le-Street, so a big knock from him could make the game.

As for the Aussies, we're going to go with the betting odds and say that <b>Chris Rogers</b> will finally get his maiden Test century. He's been a consistent performer so far, and knows the ground well after many seasons in county cricket.

<b>Last Five Head-To-Head Results</b><br>2013 3rd Ashes Test: Match drawn in Manchester<br>2013 2nd Ashes Test: England won by 347 runs at Lord's<br>2013 1st Ashes Test: England won by 14 runs in Nottingham<br>2011 5th Ashes Test: England won by an innings and 83 runs in Sydney<br>2010 4th Ashes Test: England won by an innings and 157 runs in Melbourne

<b>Squads</b><br><i>England</i>: Alastair Cook (captain), Joe Root, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Jonny Bairstow, Matt Prior (wicketkeeper), Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Graham Onions, Chris Tremlett.

<i>Australia</i>: Michael Clarke (captain), Brad Haddin (wk), Jackson Bird, Ryan Harris, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Chris Rogers, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner, Shane Watson.

Dates: 9-13 August<br>Morning session: 11:00-13:00 (10:00-12:00 GMT)<br>Afternoon session: 13:40-15:40 (12:40-14:40 GMT)<br>Evening session: 16:00-18:00 (15:00-17:00 GMT)<br>On-field umpires: Aleem Dar, Tony Hill<br>Third umpire: Marais Erasmus<br>Match referee: Roshan Mahanama

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