Joe Root has called on England to send outgoing head coach Trevor Bayliss on his way “with a real big bang” by drawing the Ashes at The Oval.
This Test marks the end of the series, the end of the international summer and the end of Bayliss’ four-year reign.
His time in charge is destined to be remembered for a phenomenal improvement in white-ball cricket, capped off by this summer’s World Cup win at Lord’s, while the Test side has struggled to touch the same heights.
Having won the Ashes in his first series in charge, Bayliss will watch his native Australia lift the urn in his last but England can still deny them the satisfaction of a first outright victory on these shores since 2001.
“We need to celebrate what Trevor has done throughout his tenure and as players we need to send him off with a real big bang,” said Root.
“He has had a massive influence here and he will be sorely missed by all the players that have had a chance to work with him.”
England have made two alterations to the side that went down fighting at Old Trafford last week, with Jason Roy and Craig Overton axed in favour of Sam Curran and Chris Woakes.
Roy’s ousting at his home ground is the most significant decision, but owes as much to Ben Stokes’ injured right shoulder as it does to his run of low scores.
Hopes were high that the batsman could transfer his dominant performances in the one-day arena to Test whites but, in averaging 13.75 in eight innings, he was the most vulnerable when it became clear Stokes’ bowling would be compromised in the coming days.
That made his fellow all-rounder, Curran, a must-pick and forced an early end to the Roy experiment.
“Jason is the unfortunate one to miss out,” said Root.
“He is very aware of where he is at and what he needs to do to get himself in the best place to perform in Test cricket. He’s had an opportunity to come in and play Test cricket, get a feel for it, and it has not gone quite how he would have liked.
“But I’m sure he will go away and work extremely hard and come again. That is what you expect of guys when they get left out and I’m sure he will have that attitude and want to try and prove a point and get himself back into the side.”
Australia have confirmed at least one change of their own, with Mitch Marsh replacing Travis Head in the middle order. Captain Tim Paine has made it quite clear he is gunning for a 3-1 scoreline and is not happy to settle for less.
“We’re very hungry for this, we’ve already spoken about the fact that we came here to win the Ashes not just retain them,” said Paine.
“Last week’s result was brilliant and we played very well but all our guys are fully aware this Test is bigger than that one. This is our grand final.”