Nottingham: England are aware that another commendable all-round display will be enough for them to win the Ashes series, but know fully well that opponents Australia will not easily yield in the fourth Test starting here on Thursday.
England currently lead the five-Test match series 2-1 after a superb all-round effort at Edgbaston cricket ground enabled them to win the third match by eight wickets.
England answered all their critics again with a brilliant performance in the third clinching the Test by 8 wickets but the batting effort from both sides was not up to the mark.
Batsman Joe Root has been England’s star along with veteran willower Ian Bell so far in the series. They have pulled out the team almost every time the fragile top order has failed.
But it is England’s bowling that has enabled them to surge ahead in the series. Pacers James Anderson, Steven Finn and Stuart Broad have all packed a punch and they have been aptly supported by slow bowler Moeen Ali.
But visitors Australia will fancy their chances of levelling the contest after Anderson, easily their chief tormentor, was ruled out of the match due to a side-strain.
Australia will hope to get their act together and emulate the performance of the second Test, when they won by a massive margin of 405 runs at Lord’s cricket ground.
Australia’s bowling has been their down point with left arm quick Mitchell Starc unable to make early inroads. Veteran pacer Mitchell Johnson has been among the wickets, Josh Hazlewood and offspinner Nathan Lyon have chipped in too but it has not been a combined bowling effort which can rattle the English batsmen.
It remains to be seen if Australia field all rounder Shane Watson again to have more depth in their batting which fell like nine pins in the first innings of the third game.
But the Australian top-order also needs to fire if they have to crawl back into the series. While Chris Rogers has been at his best, his opening partner David Warner has failed to deliver the goods so far.
The contest promises to be a riveting one with both sides aiming to seize the initiative.