The Ashes: England v Australia, fifth Test preview

Muhammad Umar JawedCorrespondent IAugust 19, 2009

BIRMINGHAM, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 03:  Andrew Flintoff of England smiles during day five of the npower 3rd Ashes Test Match between England and Australia at Edgbaston on August 3, 2009 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images)

The return of Andrew Flintoff means England will likely return to their favoured line-up: five batsmen (with Jonathan Trott replacing Ravi Bopara), three all-rounders (Flintoff, Matt Prior and Stuart Broad), and three specialist bowlers.

James Anderson and Graeme Swann will be two of those, while Graeme Onions, Monty Panesar, Steve Harmison and Ryan Sidebottom are in contention for the final bowling spot.

Panesar's lack of anything approaching decent form this summer will almost certainly rule him out, while Harmison's record at the south London ground may just see him get the nod.

Australia's attack is also the subject of much debate, with Brett Lee's return to full fitness giving Ricky Ponting a desirable headache.

Ponting will want Nathan Hauritz back in the side, which could see both Lee and Stuart Clark missing out.


Pitch report

Surrey's groundsman reckons the Test track will be a traditional Oval wicket, which means true bounce and plenty of value for shots.

Australia's bowlers won't find the lateral movement which destroyed England at Leeds, although Mitchell Johnson will be excited by the extra zip off the surface.


Key battle

Andrew Flintoff v Michael Clarke:To win this match, England must take 20 wickets and dismiss Clarke twice, and a fired-up Flintoff is their best chance of achieving that.

Clarke has been this series' one truly class act, and should his run of form continue, that will go a long way towards helping Australia retain the urn.


Likely teams

England: Strauss (Capt), Cook, Bell, Collingwood, Trott, Prior (wkt), Flintoff, Broad, Swann, Anderson, Harmison.
Australia: Watson, Katich, Ponting (Capt), Hussey, Clarke, North, Haddin (wkt), Johnson, Hauritz, Siddle, Hilfenhaus.
Umpires: Billy Bowden (NZ), Asad Rauf (Pak)


Weather watch

Thursday: Heavy rain shower
Friday: Light rain showers.
Saturday: Sunny intervals.