ANDREW Strauss’s side may be encouraged by the Oval being Australia’s worst ground of those employed for this series in terms of win ratio, with just six victories in 34 visits. However, Australia have the momentum of the Jamaican 4x100m relay squad following their crushing defeat of the Three Lions in Leeds and England’s quest to regain the Ashes looks set for that most English of sporting scenarios: glorious failure.<br /><br /> For all the fanfare about and comparisons with the 2005 series, it is worth remembering that Michael Vaughan’s team were world-beaters and on a terrific run going into that series. With many of the players involved long-since retired or jettisoned, the current skipper has had to steady a sinking ship, with his charges often out of sorts since the triumph four years ago. Following the memorable celebrations on the capital’s streets that took in Trafalgar Square and Number 10, England have only managed to muster victory in five Test series leading into the current Ashes battle. Defeat was avoided in only two of the others, meaning that they’ve lost exactly half their games in between the two home series against Australia, and slipped to fifth in the ICC Test Rankings.<br /><br />With this in mind, should Strauss win the toss and help his side build a decent score batting first, it could prove profitable to lay the England win to patriotic punters who always leave logic by the wayside if it looks as though they are steaming ahead. It should be noted that the team batting second score well at the Oval, with an average of 350 runs, so expect Australia to respond with a vengeance if this is the case. If England do score big, it will also make Ponting’s boys more inclined to play safe and go for the draw. This can be allied to the fact that the spectre of rain delays is never far away – especially with weather boffins forecasting showers on Saturday. Furthermore, with a record of 37 victories and 36 draws, England have won only once more than they have drawn here.