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Ashes tales of the battered and broken

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Australia’s Ashes-winning cricketers head to Sydney today as they begin preparations for the fifth and final Test against England starting on Friday.

The Aussies partied hard on Sunday night after scoring an eight-wicket win in the Melbourne Test on day four.

Fast bowler Ryan Harris with a sore knee and a foot blister, and pace-bowling allrounder Shane Watson with a groin strain, are yet to prove their fitness for the Test match.

Australia have named a 14-man squad including uncapped paceman Nathan Coulter-Nile, uncapped batsman Alex Doolan and one-Test allrounder Jame Faulkner.

While some Australians are sore, England are broken.

The only good thing for England out of the fourth Test is they have no fitness concerns.

But they are a rabble.

They took control on the opening two days for the first time in this series, only to fall apart miserably.

After letting Australia off the hook early on day three, they failed to press home the advantage in their second innings.

They still had a strong chance to win on Sunday, but dropped crucial catches early.

Australia cruised to an eight-wicket win on the back of a career-best 116 from Chris Rogers and his 136-run stand with Watson.

England captain Alastair Cook said he wants to keep the role, but admits the final decision will rest with the selectors.

While Australia ponders its rising status in world cricket, the benchmark was emboldened on Tuesday, with South Africa further entrenching themselves as the world’s No.1 Test side.

The Proteas completed a crushing 10-wicket victory over India on Tuesday morning, earning a 1-0 series win in the battle between Test cricket’s top two teams.

With the victory South Africa gained two ratings points on the International Cricket Council’s rankings to be on 133, comfortably ahead of No.2 India who dropped to 117.

Australia entered the Ashes series in fifth position on the ICC’s table with 101 ratings points, but will finish in third place above England if they do not lose in the SCG Test starting on Friday.

Australia’s three-match Test series against South Africa starts on February 12 at Centurion.

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