Sydney to provide the perfect finale?

Posted in England in Australia 2010-11

Alastair Cook

Alastair Cook made 61 not out on a topsy-turvy second day of the final Ashes Test

In the context of recent Ashes Tests, we could be set for a somewhat unfamiliar treat over the next three days.

Although the destination of the urn has already been decided following events in Melbourne last week, it should not be forgotten that Australia can still level the series with a win at the SCG, where England currently trail by 117 runs with seven first-innings wickets in hand.

There is plenty to play for, therefore, as the two sides do battle for the fifth and final time, just as there was last August when Andrew Strauss’ side recorded victory at the Oval to secure the most fabled prize in cricket.

Taking such evidence into account, it would be fair to assume that there has been little to choose between England and their greatest rivals over the last 18 months.

Yet, bizarrely, not one of the previous nine meetings between the two sides has developed into a closely-fought battle.

There was certainly plenty of late drama in the opening Test of the 2009 series in Cardiff as England held on gamely to secure a draw, but any hopes of a home win had evaporated long before the final day.

England responded with a thumping victory at Lord’s and it was they who had much the better of a rain-interrupted third Test at Edgbaston.

Ricky Ponting’s men duly bounced back themselves with a resounding innings-and-80-run triumph at Headingley before the summer was brought to a conclusion with another one-sided affair that saw the hosts reclaim the Ashes.

A similar pattern has emerged this winter following an opening Test in Brisbane that saw both sides struggle to take wickets.

England were utterly dominant in Adelaide and Melbourne as they recorded innings victories, but Australia’s sole success also came in spectacular fashion as they crushed the tourists by 267 runs in Perth.

While the frequent swings in momentum have made for entertaining viewing - and I have particularly enjoyed seeing Australia receive the sort of beatings that are only usually reserved for our office XI - I can’t help but feel as though something has been missing.

As I write this blog, both sides will feel as though they have a realistic chance of coming out on top in Sydney.

Wouldn’t it be great if that was still the case in 48 hours time?