He bowled in the nets yesterday, but was at about 60-70% and that’s not how you go into a game.
“As such, he was not considered for selection for the fifth Test. On his return to Australia his niggles will be investigated further and he will work with our coaches, and our medical and fitness staff to have him prepared for the next series he is selected to play in”.
Clarke declared the Australian players had an obligation to “to try and fight our backsides off and grind our way to a victory in this Test match”. Asked if Anderson’s exclusion meant England would retain the same team, Cook added: “Yes, if everyone pulls up well tomorrow”.
England have already regained the Ashes after their crushing victories over Australia at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge respectively where the tourists suffered first innings collapses as they failed to adjust to the movement created by green, seaming pitches.
“Perhaps unlike other teams in the past – the 2005 side’s Ashes win was their pinnacle and what they built towards for two or three years – I genuinely believe this side has more ahead of it. You’ll see likes of Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes improving as cricketers”.
Meanwhile, Cook said a more positive approach had helped his side neutralise the impact of Australia fast bowler Mitchell Johnson, although he accepted local conditions had played their part as well. I think we went through a period as a team when we wouldn’t speak to any of our ex-players and it was like us versus them.
Michael Clarke realises there is no fairytale ending waiting for him at the Kia Oval but the Australia captain still harbours hopes of bowing out with a rare win on English soil.
Given all that has gone about this Ashes, this final Test is going to be a massive encounter for a variety of reasons.
“And the way Beefy (Ian Botham) has been coming over and encouraging people – I’d played for six or seven years and never really spoken to Beefy”. “The 173 I scored at Lord’s is just going to be one of those memories I’ll have forever”.
Clarke still has a chance to become the ninth Australian to finish his career with a batting average above 50, though he needs 122 runs in the Test without being dismissed in either innings – that rises to 172 if dismissed once, 222 if twice.
There is a sense this is the last match for the current generation before a new era begins in Australia test cricket, under newly appointed captain Steve Smith.
But while the Test at The Oval may well be a dead rubber, there’s every chance of some good cricket being played.
“Australia will miss a mighty fine batsman and a very good captain”.
“All I can say is we are hugely disappointed but saying that this is a big last game, obviously it’s Michael’s retirement as well”.