Cricket Comment: I fancy Panesar to help wrap up a series victory
ENGLAND have the chance to retain the Ashes at Old Trafford and there is no reason to think they won’t if, as expected, the weather ensures enough play.
As the first two Tests have shown, Alastair Cook’s men are superior in all departments and, over five days, that should become obvious.
I expect England to go for two spinners on a pitch known to favour them and which should, despite rain, still be hard, meaning Monty Panesar coming in for Tim Bresnan and alongside Graeme Swann.
Panesar has taken six-wicket hauls twice before in Manchester, most recently against New Zealand in 2008, so on the basis of horses for courses he may well play.
Australia look likely to pick batsman David Warner, whose pub altercation with England’s Joe Root saw him miss the start of the series.
They need people in form and he got a few runs against South Africa A last week, but he is still a one-day player trying to make his way in Test cricket and he won’t change the outcome of the match.
The tourists need to come out fighting and I fully expect them to take the game to England and play in a very positive way.
Cook and his team-mates will need to be aware of that, but if England win the toss and bat this morning then the match, and the series, could be wrapped up by Sunday.
Andy Lloyd is a former England Test cricketer who has also been captain and chairman of Warwickshire.