All to play for in final Test

Fifth Test in Sydney gives England chance to win Ashes series outright while Australia look for consolation of a draw.

    England players take a break during training in Sydney on the eve of the final Test of the Ashes tour [AFP]

    The fate of the Ashes was decided last week in Melbourne but with the series and a huge amount of pride still on the line, there is plenty at stake for both Australia and England in the fifth Test in Sydney.

    England may be taking the urn home from Australia for the first time in 24 yearsby taking a 2-1 lead, but failing to win the series outright would be an anticlimax.
     
    It is also a chance to show their ruthlessness as they continue on a path they hope will take them to the top of the world game.

    For an Australian team under the temporary captaincy of Michael Clarke, it is an opportunity to put behind them a bad 2010 and make a new start in a new year with a morale-boosting victory to level the series at 2-2.

    The memory of the humbling defeat in Perth sandwiched between the innings triumphs in Adelaide and Melbourne was fresh enough for England captain Andrew Strauss to reissue his anti-complacency edict on Sunday, and warn against a backlash.

    'Nothing to lose'

    "Sometimes it can be a bit of a release knowing that you've got nothing to lose anymore," he said.

    "So I think we're quite conscious of Australia coming back at us pretty hard this week and if there are any weaknesses to be exposed, it's important we do that."

    For Clarke, standing in for the injured Ricky Ponting on his home ground, the memory of Perth offers hope to a team including new caps Usman Khawaja and Michael Beer.

    "England are high on confidence but as we've seen from Perth, when we're at our best, we can beat them," the confident 29-year-old said.

    "There's no doubt about it, if we are at our best, we will win this Test match."
     
    England were the last visitors to win a Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground at the end of the 2002-03 Ashes tour – they lost the series 4-1 – and Australia have since won nine of the 10 matches at the ground against all opposition.
     
    Ponting played in all nine and his absence from the Australian team for the first time since 2004 because of a fractured finger gives Khawaja a chance to become the first Muslim to wear the baggy green cap.

    The debut of the freescoring Pakistan-born lefthander gives a fresh look to an Australian team which Clarke hopes can draw a line under the humiliation of failing to regain the Ashes.
     
    "We've spoken a lot about what has gone on before and I keep saying 'last year', because it is done and we need to be focused on right now and this Test match," he said ahead of Monday's start of play.

    "The least we can do for the public is to get out there for five days and show a really good, fighting Australian cricket team."

    SOURCE: Reuters


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