The start of the fifth and final Ashes Test is nearly upon us, with England aiming to finish what has been a difficult series strongly.
Joe Root’s side fought hard to secure a draw in the fourth Test at Sydney and they’ll be hoping to carry some momentum into the final match of the series in Hobart.
It’s a day/nighter meaning a 4am start (GMT) for everyone watching back in the UK and that the pink ball is likely to have an impact once again.
We’ve broken down everything you need to know ahead of what will be the first Ashes Test ever played in the state of Tasmania…
The fifth and final Test will see Ashes cricket played in Tasmania for the first time, with the Bellerive Oval in Hobart set to host the last match of the series.
It’s gutting that the Barmy Army aren’t able to be there en masse to give the state a proper introduction to Ashes cricket but Rooty’s side won’t be without support.
The 15,000-capacity stadium was established in 1914 but didn’t host its first Test until 1989. Australia’s red-ball record there since is fairly strong – that is until the last 10 years when they’ve lost two of the four Tests played at the ground (against South Africa in 2016 and New Zealand in 2011).
As per ESPNcricinfo, the pitches at the Bellerive Oval traditionally provide the bowlers with something to work with early on but as the match wears on can become something of a batters paradise – meaning if you’re willing to work for it a big score could be available.
You probably want to see the pitch for the fifth Test in Hobart, don’t you? This is, remember, 48 hours from the toss: pic.twitter.com/7NHzHnPKu9
— George Dobell (@GeorgeDobell1) January 12, 2022
The common wisdom is the green-tinged pitch and colder climate could mean conditions are not dissimilar to playing in England, something Root’s bowlers will certainly want to take advantage of.
As the fifth Test is a day/nighter, the floodlights and pink ball also come into play and could give the tourists an extra boost.
England could be set to make as many as five changes for the fifth and final Test, with Sam Billings set to become the 700th to earn a Three Lions cap.
With Jos Buttler having returned to the UK due to injury and Jonny Bairstow still nursing a thumb issue, Billings will replace the former in the XI and keep in Hobart.
That’s according to The Cricketer, who have also revealed that Ollie Pope is likely to be recalled if Bairstow cannot play while Rory Burns could also return to the side.
Ben Stokes is expected to play as just a batter due to a side strain but it is understood that Ollie Robinson and Chris Woakes could both feature with Jack Leach and Jimmy Anderson rested.
Root’s side showed their resilience in Sydney and he has urged them to show “the desire”, “the fight” and “the pride” that helped them earn the result at the SCG from ball one in the fifth Test.
Predicted XI: Burns, Crawley, Malan, Root (c), Pope, Stokes, Billings, Woakes, Robinson, Broad, Wood
For Australia, Marcus Harris has been dropped with Usman Khawaja moved up the order to open with David Warner.
Travis Head missed the fourth Test due to isolation but will return to the side, though exactly how their bowling attack will look remains unclear.
Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, and Cameron Green are all expected to keep their places but Scott Boland is questionable due to a rib injury – with Jhye Richardson likely to replace him if he is unavailable.
Predicted XI: Warner, Khawaja, Labuschagne, Smith, Head, Carey, Green, Cummins (c), Starc, Boland, Lyon
England claimed a hard-fought draw in Sydney and the conditions could well suit them in Hobart.
There would be no better way to introduce Ashes cricket to the Bellerive Oval than with a win for Root’s side, who have the chance to finish a frustrating series positively.
We’re backing them to do just that and build some more positively at the start of 2022!