Shamik Das

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Ever-present England set sights on series victory

Ready, aim: James Anderson and Kevin Pietersen get ready to fire while taking a break from England training in Loughborough

Trent Bridge, third Test: England v New Zealand (5th - 9th June)

ENGLAND named an unchanged team for the fifth match in succession as the final Test got under way under clear skies and glorious sunshine in Nottingham this morning.

Not since England's maiden away Ashes success in 1884-85, 123 years ago, have they fielded the same XI for five Tests in a row, though they came close during the 2005 Ashes, Simon Jones's injury on this ground denying him a place for the Oval finale.

Though there have been no changes since England's last defeat, in Hamilton - after which Stuart Broad replaced Matthew Hoggard - there remain problems that need to be addressed.

The middle-order has failed to fire this summer, with Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood and Tim Ambrose mustering a paltry 80 runs between them all series. Ambrose's form will be particularly worrying, adding only three runs at Old Trafford to his golden duck at Lord's.

"It is a side that has won three out of the last four games," said England captain Michael Vaughan before the start, as he stood by the faltering Collingwood. "I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a hundred from him this week.

"He's not under too much pressure from me, but he's probably under more pressure from himself as he is desperate to score runs."

For New Zealand, reserve keeper Gareth Hopkins comes in for James Marshall, with Brendon McCullum - playing purely as a batsman - bumped up the order to three.

Live text commentary of the third Test on Cricinfo
Live audio commentary on Test Match Special
Highlights of each day's play at 7:15 on Five


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