It's All to Play for and I Know We Will Rise to the Occasion; EXCLUSIVE by ADAM GILCHRIST
Byline: ADAM GILCHRIST
WE HAVE all lived with the excitement and expectations and been through the full gamut of emotions, but remarkably, in one of the greatest series in Test history, it has all boiled down to one game.
It is a grand final of the grandest proportions.
The Ashes, that treasured symbol both countries aspire to, is up for grabs over five days of cricket.
England have played more consistently before this match and can carry confidence into The Oval. We simply have not reached our normal standards - but we're still in the contest.
If we win this match and retain the Ashes then, as far as I'm concerned, no gloss will be taken off the achievement by our failure to win the series. At the start of each Ashes campaign, the objective is to lift the precious urn and, if the rules state that all the defenders have to do is draw the series, then fine.
That will do for me.
A collective calm has descended on our group. It ' s almost perverse. The majority of our team have played in two or three World Cup finals and many domestic Sheffield Shield finals which are decided over one game.
We have to win at The Oval and nothing clouds the issue, like the option of playing for a draw. Our ability to rise to the occasion over the years gives me confidence that we have the quality and experience to do it again.
We are still waiting on Glenn McGrath's fitness and we will give him every opportunity to prove he is ready for action on Thursday. He has been one of the premier fast bowlers, if not the best, in the world over the last few years and his availability will be the key ingredient in the balance and makeup of our attack.
The signs are getting better.
'Pigeon' is a very positive character who is convinced he will be fit and, more encouragingly, our physio Errol Alcott is talking in a more confident tone every day.
Yes, we have called up Stuart Clark as cover and he is very much a McGrath-type bowler.
But that does not mean we have ruled out Glenn.
The question of whether we should field four bowlers or five has been talked about in the build-up to The Oval. Yet a close inspection of our results shows our combination of three seamers and a spinner has been perfectly adequate for us, which is why we've stuck with it. …