England will look to leave Australia in a spin and retain the Ashes by taking a 3-0 series lead at Old Trafford from Thursday with team selection seen as key on the famously dusty track.
The Manchester wicket may have been moved by 90 degrees since Australia last played here in 2005 but it is still expected to turn. There is an outside chance both sides will play two spinners. Also read:We know we can beat England, says Clarke
Plenty of history
The ground where Shane Warne bowled his Ball of the Century to Mike Gatting in 1993 and where Jim Laker took 19 wickets in 1956 is calling out for another spin hero and England’s Graeme Swann is the only man who really fits the bill. Also read: 'We'll see a revival in the last few matches'
England, on the verge of a third successive Ashes series win after almost 20 years of previous Australian dominance, have included Monty Panesar in their squad as they mull two spinners but it is more likely Australia who will plump for the gamble.
Ashton Agar, 19, has made more impact with the bat than ball after scoring 98 on debut in the first Test and Nathan Lyon, with 76 wickets in 22 Tests, looks set to come in either as a replacement or accompaniment. Also read: Stability in team will be welcomed by players, says Gilchrist
“We’d be mad to pick (Agar) if we didn’t think he was technically up to it. He’s 19, I’d hope he has plenty of room for improvement, the same as Nathan, they’re both young kids, although Nathan’s played a lot more,” said coach Darren Lehmann on Tuesday.
Australia, who have lost their last six Tests, need to win to have any chance of regaining the Ashes. Whether the extra need for victory makes the tourists go for two spinners remains to be seen, especially after a slightly injured Agar failed to threaten with the ball in the second Test at Lord’s, where England won by 347 runs.
Pundits expect Michael Clarke’s men just to