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The Ashes: How Shaun Marsh's magnificent ton sent England packing and put Australia 2-0 up in Adelaide in 2017

Australia beat England by 120 runs in the last meeting between the sides in Adelaide, in 2017; the two sides will once again face off at the Adelaide Oval, from December 16-20; iconic former Aussie captain Ricky Ponting rates it as England's best chance of getting a win this year

Australia's Shaun Marsh celebrates making 100 runs against England during the second day of their Ashes test match in Adelaide, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)..
Image: Shaun Marsh starred for Australia in the last Adelaide Ashes Test in 2017

One thought will be prevalent in Joe Root's mind as the England captain takes his side to Adelaide for the second Ashes Test: at least it's not Brisbane.

England almost never do well in Queensland first up, but statistically, the second Test is more decisive. Of the 17 second Tests which had a winner since World War Two, the winning team went on to take the series 16 of those times, the only exception coming back in 1962-63.

The trouble is, 14 of Australia's 15 home first-Test victories against England since 1920 were followed by a win in the second Test, Len Hutton's 1954-55 side the only team to buck the trend. But this time around, things could be different.

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England captain Joe Root says his team is clear on how to approach The Ashes as they look to regain the urn

England will have a pink ball under the lights, probably have James Anderson and Stuart Broad returning with 1,156 Test wickets between them, and India rebounded from a damaging Gabba defeat to win a series Down Under last year.

Plus, legendary former Australia captain Ricky Ponting reckons it's England's best chance of a win all series...

How England fared in Adelaide last time out

In between Australia routs at the Gabba and in Perth, the hosts declared on a massive 442-8, and although England bowled them out for 138 in the second innings, Mitchell Starc's five-for saw the visitors bowled out for 233, 120 runs short.

THE BACKGROUND

Going into the 2017 Ashes, England won two summer Test series against South Africa and the West Indies - but both in home-friendly conditions. Not necessarily preparation for long hot days toiling away on flat Aussie roads, as the Ashes opener four years ago showed...

Spinner Moeen Ali and England's plethora of 80mph medium-fast seamers had taken plenty of wickets on green-top pitches where the ball swings around corners.

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The score board at the Adelaide Oval has the details for the final day of the Ashes cricket test match between England And Australia in Adelaide, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. Australia won by 120 runs. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)..
Image: Four years ago, England lost by 120 runs at the Adelaide Oval

Australia, meanwhile, had a series defeat against India and a surprising first Test loss against Bangladesh to their name earlier in the year, but put that behind them with a confident 10-wicket win in Brisbane.

At the 'Gabbatoir' England batted first and well, only overtaken by Steve Smith's brilliant 141no, but then collapsed to 195, with openers David Warner and Cameron Bancroft cruising to the winning total of 173 without loss.

WHAT HAPPENED

Despite the 10-wicket defeat at the Gabba, new England skipper Root must have been fairly confident when he won the toss and put Australia in to bat in cloudy conditions, but that confidence seeped out of England on a sobering first day.

David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Smith - bowled by Test debutant Craig Overton - and Peter Handscomb all made starts but failed to kick on, before Shaun Marsh's 126no and Pat Cummins' useful 44 helped Australia to 442-8, when they declared.

England's batters fell in quick succession - the top six combined just about overtaking the total of Australia's No 6 Marsh - and although a partnership of 66 from Chris Woakes and Overton steadied the ship somewhat, the hosts ended more than 200 ahead but chose not to enforce the follow-on.

In this Dec. 4, 2017, file photo, Australia's Mitchell Starc reaches out to take the wicket of England's Jonny Bairstow, caught and bowled for 21 runs, during their Ashes cricket test match in Adelaide, Australia. Starc hasn't picked up a cricket bat or ball in two months, and isn't exactly salivating at the prospect of going back to work. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)
Image: Fast bowler Mitchell Starc took five second-innings wickets in 2017 and has been picked again

Although James Anderson and Woakes took nine wickets between them in dismissing Australia for an under-par 138 all out, with no Aussie batter passing 20, England were still set a record 354 to win.

At 176-4, the visitors were halfway there, but Woakes' wicket sparked a collapse, with the final six falling for just 57 runs as Australia eased to 2-0 up.

KEY MOMENTS

"That's lbw, must be - yep, had to be," remarked the commentator as James Anderson rapped Marsh's pads and the umpire raised his finger early on the second day with Marsh on 29 and Australia 240-5.

But upon review, he was given a reprieve and went on to make a robust unbeaten century, including 15 fours and one dismissive, breathtaking six straight back over Broad's head, and led Pat Cummins (44) through a crucial 99-run partnership.

Australian teammates celebrate as England's Jonny Bairstow, right, walks away at the end of their Ashes cricket test match in Adelaide, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. Australia won by 120 runs. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)..
Image: Australia have a strong record in Adelaide, the site of the second Ashes Test

Cummins also had a say in the fourth innings. With Root in good nick, passing 50, and Malan digging in late on the fourth day, Australia burned two reviews in their desperation to make a breakthrough.

Future Test captain Cummins then clean bowled the left-hander with an absolute jaffa of an inswinger and from there the match was won.

MAN OF THE MATCH

You can't really look beyond Marsh.

His first-innings 126 was essentially the margin between the sides, Australia winning by 120 runs, he slowed England's momentum in the second innings too and his stand-and-deliver maximum off Broad was the highlight of the game.

England captain Joe Root (holding flag) prepares for his side's Ashes Test against Australia in Adelaide in 2017
Image: England will be hoping to secure a better result in South Australia than their defeat last time

WHAT THEY SAID

Australia captain Steve Smith: "It has been a pretty tough 24 hours. I was a little bit nervous last night."

On deciding not to enforce the follow-on, he added: "Would I do the same again? I'm not sure. It's played on my mind a bit over the last couple of days - have I made a mistake?

"It's a long summer and giving the bowlers a rest makes me confident they can come back and do the business. It kept England bowling. They bowled 150 overs in the first innings. If you can tire their bowlers early on in a summer it can make a difference in the back end."

England captain Joe Root: "We have shown in the first two Tests that we can outperform Australia. The belief is there. We're still massively in this series.

"We're playing better cricket this time. We're more evenly matched than we were last time around. The two games have ebbed and flowed and we have been in control for periods of them. That wasn't the case last time.

"I can understand why our supporters would be frustrated and disappointed, because that's how I feel. The way we responded with bat and ball in the second innings was outstanding and we showed character. Now we have to do it over five days."

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