It will be the start of going-away parties for Shane
Warne and Glenn McGrath, and a chance for Englands redemption
in the Ashes.
The fourth Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground beginning
today will also be one of the most well-attended Test matches
in the history of the sport.
More than 95,000 spectators are expected each of the first
two days, and likely the third and fourth, at the Melbourne
Hometown boy Warne, who announced his retirement from international
cricket last Thursday, will be the major focus of attention
as England tries to win its first Test in the five-match series
after three straight losses which returned the Ashes to Australia.
McGrath said his last Test will also be the one beginning
January 2 in Sydney, although McGrath will play in the limited-overs
World Cup tournament ending in March before calling it quits.
Australia is also aiming to become only the second team to
win a five-match Ashes series 5-0Warwick Armstrongs
Australian team was the only other team to do it, in 1920-21.
might be something that might be spoken about, if theres
an opportunity there for that to happen, it would be nice
if this team could be the one to do it, captain Ricky
Ponting said Monday.
with Warney and Glenn finishing, I think its something
theyd like to say theyd achieved in their careers
as well, and the rest of the players, if we could be the first
team in a long time to achieve that, that would be great.
England captain Andrew Flintoff expects to be fit for the
match after needing ongoing treatment for his troublesome
ankle. On the weekend, Flintoff had injections and did not
bowl in the nets.
no secret, Ive had some discomfort in it over the past
week, Flintoff said. Having an injection is just
a precaution, Im not envisaging any long-term problems
or worried about these next two Test matches.
Flintoff also plans to play as much as possible in the limited-overs
series against Australian and New Zealand. That series will
feature the return of Michael Vaughan from knee injury.
Flintoff took over the captaincy because of Vaughans
absence and no skipper has been named yet for the one-dayers.
worked hard to get back to fitness, its been an awful
12 months for him, Flintoff said.
When asked about the captaincy, Flintoff replied: The
announcement is going to be made after the Test series.
Vaughan has been England captain, I have been doing this in
his absence. We will see what happens.
Flintoff is confident England will play well in Melbourne.
want to show we can win out here, we want to show we can win
two Test matches, its a big occasion for us, he
said. Theres been a few things happen in the world
of cricket over the past week, but it cant affect our
Both teams held workouts Monday, although the Australian one
was optional ahead of a Christmas lunch with their families
at a Melbourne hotel.
Warne is determined to end his international career with a
clean sweep against the old enemy.
far as Im concerned weve got two Test matches
to play and I just want to finish the series on a high,
Warne said. I think if we can win 5-0 that would be
a fantastic achievement for a great team.