Ashes 2021-22: Australia return to happy Hobart hunting ground strong favourites for 4-0 win

The
tourists
avoided
a
whitewash
when
they
batted
out
a
draw
on
a
tense
final
day
at
the
Sydney
Cricket
Ground
last
week,
James
Anderson
and
Stuart
Broad
preventing
Australia
from
taking
the
one
wicket
they
needed
to
go
4-0
up.

They
will
start
a
first-ever
Ashes
Test
in
Hobart
on
Friday
with
Pat
Cummins’ side
strong
favourites
to
make
it
three
Test
wins
out
of
three
over
England
under
the
lights.

The
series
finale
was
due
to
be
staged
in
Perth,
but
was
moved
due
to
Western
Australia’s
border
restrictions.

England
have
not
won
a
Test
in
Australia
since
they
came
out
on
top
at
the
SCG
11
years
ago
and
they
have
never
looked
like
ending
that
drought
during
this
one-sided
series.

Blundstone
Arena
has
been
a
happy
hunting
ground
for
Australia,
the
hosts
nine
out
of
13
Tests
in
Hobart

that
69
per
cent
win
rate
being
their
best
at
any
home
ground
where
they
face
played
more
than
twice
in
the
longest
format.

A
draw
stopped
the
rot
for
the
tourists,
but
they
are
winless
in
seven
away
Tests.
It
is
their
longest
run
without
a
victory
on
their
travels
since
a
13-match
barren
spell
from
October
2016
to
March
2018.

Both
sides
face
selection
dilemmas
for
what
Australia
hope
will
be
their
150th
Test
victory
over
their
fierce
rivals.
Their
next
best
winning
record
is
against
West
Indies
(58
victories).

England,
meanwhile,
will
simply
be
hoping
for
a
win
to
at
least
take
some
positives
from
what
has
been
a
miserable
tour.
However,
in
both
day-night
meetings
between
these
sides
to
dates,
Australia
have
triumphed
by
120
runs
(in
December
2017
and
December
2021).


Head
return
leaves
Harris
vulnerable

Usman
Khawaja
could
not
have
wished
to
make
a
bigger
impact
after
getting
the
nod
at
the
SCG,
scoring
a
century
in
both
innings
of
his
first
Test
since
August
2019.

Khawaja
became
the
first
player
to
plunder
a
ton
in
each
innings
of
an
SCG
Test
since
former
Australia
captain
Ricky
Ponting

The
experienced
left-hander
replaced
Travis
Head,
who
missed
out
after
testing
positive
for
coronavirus.

Head
is
fit
for
the
fifth
Test
and
averages
62
in
the
series,
so
he
is
set
to
come
back
into
the
side.
Khawaja
believed
he
was
unlikely
to
retain
his
place
despite
his
brilliance
in
Sydney,
though
there
is
a
possibility
the
35-year-old
could
find
himself
opening,
with
Marcus
Harris
potentially
making
way.

Josh
Hazlewood
is
still
unavailable
due
to
a
side
injury,
while
Mitchell
Starc
says
he
does
not
need
a
rest
and
that
is
no
surprise
given
his
outstanding
record
in
day-night
Tests.


Billings
set
for
Test
bow

Sam
Billings
is
poised
to
make
his
Test
debut
for
England
after
Jos
Buttler
flew
home
with
a
broken
finger.

Billings
drove
over
500
miles
to
answer
an
England
SOS
call,
having
been
in
Queensland
playing
for
Sydney
Thunder
in
the
Big
Bash
League.

Ben
Stokes
(side)
and
Jonny
Bairstow
(thumb)
batted
through
the
pain
barrier
in
Sydney
and
will
be
checked
on,
with
the
vice-captain
possibly
playing
only
as
a
batter.

Rory
Burns
could
be
recalled
in
place
of
a
struggling
Haseeb
Hameed,
while
Ollie
Robinson
will
be
hoping
to
come
back
into
the
team
and
head
coach
Chris
Silverwood
is
back
with
the
touring
party
after
missing
the
fourth
Test
due
to
coronavirus.

Captain
Joe
Root
(23)
is
one
away
from
recording
the
outright
second
most
hundreds
for
England
in
men’s
Tests,
while
he
has
scored
847
runs
in
the
red-ball
format
in
Australia

the
second-most
by
any
non-Australian
player
without
having
scored
a
century
in
the
country.

Broad,
meanwhile,
is
only
four
wickets
shy
of
becoming
England’s
second
all-time
leading
wicket
taker
against
Australia
in
men’s
Tests.
The
paceman
is
on
125
as
it
stands,
three
behind
the
late
Bob
Willis
(128),
with
Ian
Botham
the
record
holder
with
148.

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