England added bowlers Graham Onions and Chris Tremlett to their 13-man squad following the draw that retained the Ashes in Manchester, with the former particularly keen to find a space in a settled line-up for his home Test in Durham. England could well name an unchanged team but Stuart Broad has taken only six wickets in the series and James Anderson looked tired at Old Trafford, so if Andy Flower is looking for fresh impetus and wants to rotate the bowling attack then Onions is likely to be the man to benefit.
Jackson Bird could make his first Ashes appearance having been named in Australia's 12-man squad. The tourists know that fast bowler Ryan Harris requires careful management given his injury record and in fact he has only played three consecutive Tests once before. Bird was the only man added to the squad after Australia's impressive performance at Old Trafford so spinner Ashton Agar will not be returning to the side. The only other issue for Australia is whether David Warner will open again after Shane Watson dropped down the order for the second innings in Manchester after an unconvincing summer.
England: Alastair Cook (capt), Joe Root, Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Jonny Bairstow, Matt Prior (wk), Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson.
Australia: David Warner, Chris Rodgers, Usman Khawaja, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke (capt), Steven Smith, Brad Haddin (wk), Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird.
England captain Alastair Cook on allegations that players attempted to cheat Hot Spot with silicon tape: "Players have been putting tape on their bats for years. I just think the actual story is a load of rubbish in terms of why people are putting tape on their bats. Fibreglass tape on their bats, that's been going on for years. That's just to protect the bat to make it last longer. I think that whole story we have to rubbish it because it is rubbish. If we give it any more miles then it's not really fair. I think [Kevin Pietersen is] kind of laughing at it in one way. But when you get called a cheat I think you quite rightly want to clear your name pretty quickly when you haven't done anything wrong."
Australia captain Michael Clarke: "I find the accusation quite funny. I can’t talk for everybody but if it is the case we are talking about cheating, I tell you there is not one person in the Australian change rooms who is a cheat. That’s not the way we play cricket. I know no-one is going to the extreme of saying 'put this on your bat because it will help you beat Hot Spot'. It's hard for me to talk for other players but I've never heard any conversation about that in the Australian change room and I can guarantee you my bat manufacturer (doesn't do that). I didn't know there was such a thing you could do to hide nicking the ball on Hot Spot."
Friday, Saturday and Monday should see sunny spells but rain is predicted on Sunday and Tuesday. Chester-le-Street is home to a flat pitch which is unlikely to play into the hands of an all-seam attack, while Durham conditions are usually best for bowlers who can move the ball off the seam.
This is the first time that Durham has ever hosted an Ashes Test. In the four previous Tests held at the ground, England have won every time, and by an innings on no less than three occasions.
England evens, Australia 3/1, Draw 9/4.
- Sports & Recreation
- Stuart Broad
- Alastair Cook
- Jackson Bird
- Kevin Pietersen
- David Warner
- Graham Onions