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England v Australia: Fourth Ashes Test preview

And so, to the SCG.

The venue has played host to some fantastic Ashes Tests over the years and a few of the Barmy Army’s favourite memories down under – including the famous victory on the 2002/03 tour – and it could be the ideal place for England to bounce back.

Australia may have retained the Ashes with their win at the MCG in the Boxing Day Test but there is still a lot to play for and winning would be a strong start to 2022 for Joe Root’s side.

The fourth Test at the SCG gets underway tonight at 11.30pm (GMT), unless you’re among the lucky few out in Australia!

Wherever you’ll be watching, we’ve put together a preview to really get you excited…

The Pink Test

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The fourth Test of the Ashes series will be Australia’s annual ‘Pink Test’, raising awareness and funds for the McGrath Foundation.

Set up by Aussie legend Glenn McGrath, the foundation seeks to raise awareness about breast cancer and raise funds for breast cancer nurses across Australia.

It’s a fantastic cause and one that you can contribute to by buying a Virtual Pink Seat and donating $20 (just over a tenner) here.

We spoke to Glenn on the Shackles Are Off Podcast, which is a must-listen if you haven’t already!

In his words, the Pink Test is about “bringing people together and just showing the importance of making the most of life”.

England’s ‘caged tigers’ ready to strike?

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England will be without Chris Silverwood, who is one of nine members of the support staff isolating due to Covid, and his absence is one of a number of disruptions ahead of the start of the fourth Test.

However, stand-in coach Graham Thorpe has suggested his side include “a couple of caged tigers coming into this match” in the form of Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes.

Broady’s return to the side is the only change made by the tourists ahead of the fourth Test (and one that will no doubt worry David Warner), with Ollie Robinson and Chris Woakes both suffering from “shoulder niggles”.

A win late in the 2002/03 series proved a catalyst for the famous 2005 triumph and Rooty’s men will be keen to land a similar blow at the SCG this week.

Speaking to The Cricketer, Thorpe has suggested the fourth Test is an opportunity “for our team and our players as individuals”.

He added: “Some are trying to establish themselves. That’s an opportunity. Some are trying to stay in the team. That’s also an opportunity. I feel they’re in a good place. I feel they’re up for this match.”

England XI: Hameed, Crawley, Malan, Root (c), Stokes, Bairstow, Buttler, Wood, Leach, Broad, Anderson

What can we expect from the Aussies? 

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Pat Cummins and his side will be determined to ensure England aren’t able to wrestle back any momentum but are set to be without Josh Hazlewood again as he is not yet fully fit.

With Jhye Richardson also out due to injury, seamer Scott Boland will keep his place after making his debut at the MCG while Travis Head’s absence means a recall for Usman Khawaja at number five.

There was talk ahead of the game that leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson could make his debut, with a tour of India on the horizon, but he has missed out.

That may well be due to the workload the bowlers could face at the SCG, with Cummins predicting it will favour the batting side on a pitch that traditionally makes things “hard work”.

Australia XI: Warner, Harris, Labuschagne, Smith, Khawaja, Green, Carey Cummins (c), Starc, Lyon, Boland

Prediction

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The first three Tests have been tough for England but this week at the SCG offers them the chance to show their grit and build some momentum.

We’re backing them to do just that, with the Sydney Barmies and us back home given something to celebrate.

Whatever happens, we’ll be behind them all the way!