The battle of Durham
Everything you need to know ahead of the fourth Ashes Test
Last Updated: 08/08/13 3:02pm
Outplayed for long periods in Manchester, the rain rescued England on the final day and ensured they maintained a 2-0 lead. As holders, Alastair Cook's men will keep possession of the Ashes for the third series in a row regardless of the outcome of the final two Tests.
There is little time for rest and reflection for either side before they are straight back into it at Emirates Durham ICG, which will be hosting its maiden Ashes Test.
England have tweaked their 13-man squad with the addition of Durham seamer Graham Onions in place of Sussex spinner Monty Panesar.
Onions and Chris Tremlett give England the option of rotating their seam attack if they deem it necessary, with James Anderson - whose 128.5 overs in the series are the most by a fast bowler - the most obvious candidate for a rest.
Australia reshuffled their batting order when chasing quick runs in the second innings at Old Trafford, moving David Warner up to open in place of Shane Watson, who dropped down to No.4.
Watson's moderate form with the bat means there is a strong case for Warner to remain in his preferred position, while the only other change being considered is a first appearance of the series for seamer Jackson Bird.
Hot and bothered
Both teams have denied using silicone tape on their bats to prevent 'Hot Spot' detecting contact with the ball after reports in Australia claimed the International Cricket Council were investigating. The first three Tests of the series have been marred by DRS controversies and the reliability of the infrared heat-seeking camera has come under scrutiny. England batsman Kevin Pietersen took to Twitter to defend his integrity: "Horrible journalism yet again! My name brought up in Hot Spot crisis suggesting I use silicon to prevent nicks showing! Such hurtful lies. I am never afraid of getting out! If I nick it, I'll walk.. To suggest I cheat by covering my bat with silicon infuriates me."
Home and dry
Onions feels he is ready to take his chance if the England selectors recall him on his home ground. His most recent Test appearance came against West Indies more than a year ago but he has remained in the selectors' thoughts and was an unused member of England's squad for each of the first two Tests of the series. Onions said: "The prospect of a playing a Test match cricket again, and playing in front of your home crowd, it's going be fantastic if I was given the opportunity to play."
Sky Cricket's Ashes panel of experts have been considering the objectives for each team during the remaining two Tests of the series and how best to achieve them. Nasser Hussain warns about the impact of mental fatigue on the players, in particular England captain Alastair Cook. Sir Ian Botham and Shane Warne are both concerned about the demands of more back-to-back Tests on the seam bowlers, with Beefy interested to see if England opt to rest Anderson and give Onions an opportunity in familiar conditions. David Lloyd thinks there is more to come from England, chiefly from from their top-order batting, while Michael Holding believes Australia have a chance to move their team-building process forward during the final two Tests.
Shane Warne has been left unimpressed by the "arrogant and dismissive" attitude of England's players. Former Australia leg-spinner Warne, who has been commentating for Sky Sports during the series, wrote in his Daily Telegraph column: "To me there were a few moments at Old Trafford when I thought, 'Hang on, who do you think you are?' I saw an interview with Ian Ward after day two and he said it had been a tough couple of days for England, which it had been, but Graeme Swann replied, 'No, not really. We will just go out and bat now on this flat Old Trafford wicket'. Matt Prior was also very smug in his comments, which leads me to think perhaps it is a conscious effort or direction from Andy Flower to be arrogant and dismissive of the opposition. Let me tell you this, if you lose respect for the game and the opposition, cricket has a funny way of biting you on the backside. Maybe Flower wants to create an atmosphere of everyone is out to get us. He might even think England play better like that. But it is not working."
The Emirates Durham International Cricket Ground has seen major development since hosting the touring New Zealanders back in 1992. The county were handed first-class status that same year and after playing at a number of venues whilst the County Ground was being worked upon, they finally staged their first match at their new home when they hosted Worcestershire in May 1995. The Don Robson Pavilion was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in October 1996, a month after the Durham Cricket Academy was formed. Their first taste of international cricket came during the 1999 World Cup, when they hosted Pakistan v Scotland and Australia v Bangladesh in group games. England played their first ODI at Chester-le-Street the following year and then held a Test at the venue in 2003, defeating Zimbabwe inside three days. England have an impressive record at the ground - played four, won four. Three of those triumphs came with an innings to spare, though closer examination shows that the opponents have been Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and West Indies (twice). It has previously been a friendly surface for seamers - local boy Steve Harmison tops the wicket-taking charts with 16 - offering bounce and, if the conditions are right, swing. This season, though, the county have had some issues with the scars left by an Aussies Rules exhibition match that took place last November. Uneven bounce has been a problem and should make for an entertaining fourth Test by the time England and Australia make it up north.
Weather forecast and toss
The forecast is decent throughout the match, with a high temperature of 20 degrees Celsius expected on the opening day. There should be plenty of cloud cover throughout and the threat of showers increases from Sunday onwards. England have won the toss in all four previous Tests to held at the venue, choosing to bat twice and field twice. Overhead conditions, rather than the pitch, tend to be the major factor in deciding what to do.