Jones ruled out

When Simon Jones went down with an injury early in Australia’s second innings at Trent Bridge, Australia rallied to post a competitive total and work their way back into contention. It now appears that England will be without him in the deciding test as well, after he failed a rigorous fitness test two days out from the start of the match.

Jones has the best average of all the England bowlers this series and stands just behind Andrew Flintoff among the leading English wicket-takers. His ability to reverse swing the ball both ways at pace has caused the Australians constant problems throughout the series, and he remains the only bowler to pick up two five wicket hauls in the first four tests. England have been attempting to get him fit for the Ashes decider for a week, with reports circulating in the media about Jones spending time in an oxygen chamber in an attempt to speed up the healing process on what is apparently a soft-tissue injury.

In his place England have called up Lancastrian seamer James Anderson and Durham all-rounder Paul Collingwood, keeping their selection options open. Anderson last played test cricket in the tour of South Africa last year, but has struggled in his stop-start career and appeared to have been forced out of the team for good by the improving Jones, prior to this latest injury concern. Collingwood too has limited test experience, but several years as a regular in the English one day squad and a good county season give him the credentials to strengthen the English batting as well as offer a fourth seam option when needed. Either way, England will be forced to make a change to their winning team for the first time in the series.

Australia still have injury concerns too, with Glenn McGrath in doubt for the series decider. New South Wales seamer Stuart Clark has once again been added to the Australian squad in case McGrath misses out. Stuart Macgill was given an opportunity to earn a place in the final test team in a tour match against Essex during the week, but he struggled and is far from a certainty. Brett Lee and Shane Warne will certainly retain their places in the team, but who will partner them is still up for speculation.

The final Ashes test begins at The Oval on Thursday, with Australia needing a win to draw the series and retain the Ashes.

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