The third Test between Australia and England will begin in Perth on Thursday at the W.A.C.A. With England already two matches down in the series, this is hardly the ground on which they can be confident of winning.
In 46 years they have played 13 matches there, and have a dismal record of nine defeats, three draws and a solitary victory dating back to 1978 when the Australian side was weakened by the exodus of many of their stars to play World Series cricket.
In fact, the hosts have won the last 7 successive Ashes matches in Perth, and it is hard to see beyond a similar result this time round.
The pace and bounce of the pitch are ideally suited to the Australian quick bowlers. Even the strongest English batting line-ups have suffered at the W.A.C.A.; this is not one of them so do not be surprised to a clatter of wickets once the visitors get to the crease.
In addition, the visitors continue to make the headlines with events off the pitch as much as by what happens on it. The players had been put under curfew following an alleged headbutt on Australian opening batsman Cameron Bancroft by wicket-keeper Jonny Bairstow.
No sooner was it lifted, however, before England Lions batsman Ben Duckett was caught pouring a pint of beer over fellow Englishman James Anderson’s head. Cue more bad headlines and a suspension for Duckett.
On the playing side, both teams are likely to remain unchanged. For Australia, it is a matter of not changing a winning side.
In England’s case, however, it is because they have few options. Their tour match after the second Test defeat in Adelaide against an Australia Cricket XI gave the supporting cast a chance to press for a test place. In truth they failed to grasp it, and England came perilously close to losing the match.
Perhaps fortunately for England, this is the last time they will play at the W.A.C.A. as test cricket in Perth is moving to a new purpose built stadium near the Swan River. Unless there is a totally unexpected change in their fortunes, however, they are unlikely to leave the ground for the last time with happy memories of a victory.