Dead rubber a test of character: Clarke

Australia will confront another raging green seamer at The Oval, with Michael Clarke calling the Ashes finale a test of his side’s character.

The tourists batted first at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge, the former was Clarke’s doing while the latter was Alastair Cook’s decision.

Both times, they were unable to adapt to local conditions, failing in the face of excellent bowling and a ball that zipped off the deck and swung both ways.

They suffered a collapse of 5-60 on day one of the third Test, while Stuart Broad snared 8-15 to skittle them for just 60 in the fourth Test.

And with that, the urn was effectively handed over and the soul-searching started.

Clarke’s men have been embarrassed but they risk further ignominy.

England have never recorded more than three Test wins in a home series against Australia.

“This Test is as much about our character as anything else,” Clarke said.

“We need to play with that resilience and grit and determination and really fight as hard as we possibly can.

“The past couple of Tests in particular have only gone two-and-a-half days.

“Part of our responsibility is to try and fight our backsides off and grind our way to a victory in this Test.”

The pitch is green and Clarke expects it to stay that way, all but ensuring there won’t be a draw.

“It’s going to be another really tough Test match for the batters,” Clarke said.

“Another Test match that, if you win the toss, you’re going to bowl first.

“It’s going to be a result wicket. Someone is going to win – someone is going to lose.”

England boast an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-Test series, having recorded crushing wins in Cardiff, Birmingham and Nottingham.

Australia will also surrender second spot on the International Cricket Council’s Test rankings to England if they lose again.

Clarke suggested there were plenty of reasons for his side to be motivated.

“It’s still important for us to play well,” he said.

“We can’t win this series but a lot of the guys are going to come back here in four years, so it’s important for them to try and get another win.”

Counterpart Cook agreed, pointing to his side’s quest for a win on Australian soil in 2017-18.

“It would be really good for the guys who have played in this series to have memories of beating Australia going into the next series,” Cook said.

“That would be the ultimate, the absolute ultimate, to go Down Under again and try and do what we did in 2010-11.

“That was the culmination of a lot of hard work, of years of growing as a side after winning the Ashes in 2009.

“This side certainly has the potential to do that.”

Cook called on his side to show the same ruthless streak that Australia demonstrated in 2013-14.

“Australia did it very well to us when they were 3-0 up,” he said.

“They hammered us in the next two games.”

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