England will look to leave Australia in a spin and retain the Ashes by taking a 3-0 series lead at Old Trafford from Thursday with team selection seen as key on the famously dusty track.
The Manchester wicket may have been moved by 90 degrees since Australia last played here in 2005 but it is still expected to turn. There is an outside chance both sides will play two spinners. Also read:We know we can beat England,says Clarke
Plenty of history
The ground where Shane Warne bowled his Ball of the Century to Mike Gatting in 1993 and where Jim Laker took 19 wickets in 1956 is calling out for another spin hero and Englands Graeme Swann is the only man who really fits the bill. Also read: ‘We’ll see a revival in the last few matches’
England,on the verge of a third successive Ashes series win after almost 20 years of previous Australian dominance,have included Monty Panesar in their squad as they mull two spinners but it is more likely Australia who will plump for the gamble.
Ashton Agar,19,has made more impact with the bat than ball after scoring 98 on debut in the first Test and Nathan Lyon,with 76 wickets in 22 Tests,looks set to come in either as a replacement or accompaniment. Also read: Stability in team will be welcomed by players,says Gilchrist
Wed be mad to pick (Agar) if we didnt think he was technically up to it. Hes 19,Id hope he has plenty of room for improvement,the same as Nathan,theyre both young kids,although Nathans played a lot more, said coach Darren Lehmann on Tuesday.
Australia,who have lost their last six Tests,need to win to have any chance of regaining the Ashes. Whether the extra need for victory makes the tourists go for two spinners remains to be seen,especially after a slightly injured Agar failed to threaten with the ball in the second Test at Lords,where England won by 347 runs.
Pundits expect Michael Clarkes men just to go with Lyon and replace injured fast bowler James Pattinson with Starc or Jackson Bird.
Both took two wickets in the drawn match against Sussex which finished on Sunday. Australia may worry left-armer Starc will scuff up the wicket perfectly for expert off-spinner Swann to trouble right handers just like left-handed batsmen.
Bird is more of a swing bowler and forecasts predicting cloud and the first rain of the series in famously wet Manchester could make him the favourite. But it is the batting which has been Australias problem this tour and changes may come in the top six despite Phil Hughes (84),Usman Khawaja (40) and Steve Smith (102 not out) all making contributions against Sussex.
the warner issue
David Warner also found form after being banished to play with Australia A against their South African counterparts following his punch at Englands Joe Root in a bar in June. He smashed 193 in Pretoria but the hot-headed batsmans chances of a return may have been hurt by becoming involved in an on-field argument with opponent Thami Tsolekile.
The team management have their eyes secretly on 10-0 with a five-test series starting in Australia in November. They are keen to manage their pace bowlers workloads and have rotated their squad with Chris Tremlett coming back in with Steven Finn and Graham Onions missing out. Another addition is James Taylor,who scored 121 not out for Sussex against the Australians and has been called up to play in case Kevin Pietersen fails to recover from a calf strain.