the ashes
Third Ashes Test Match Australia v England 26th-30th December 2021

Time: 10:30 AM
Venue: Melbourne Cricket Ground
Weather: Partly cloudy with a 20% chance of rain with southerly winds 25-25 km/h 14-20 C

  • Cummins and Hazlewood are fit again with Scott Boland being added to the squad
  • England was given a ‘’kick up the bum’’ by their coach after their loss in Adelaide
  • Steve Smith  on Starc “That’s the best I’ve seen him bowl in a while”

Australia must be thinking that a 5-0 sweep of the Ashes series is a real possibility. They didn’t have Cummins or Hazlewood in Adelaide and it’s highly likely that at least one of them returns for this Test Match. Scott Boland is in the squad but it would be silly to drop Neser after his worthwhile debut.

In 11 out of 27 innings in Test Matches this year England have failed to score 200. Malan and Root have been consistent but they find ways of getting out after a few hours at the crease. The other batters have been dreadful apart from Woakes who has shown some spirit both in attack and defence. Mark Wood is now fit again which will be a boost for their fast-bowling ranks but I can’t see how England can come back from here.

This is the biggest stage of them all and the MCG of course has a drop-in pitch that tends to become bowler-friendly on the last two days. The outfield is the biggest in the world and there should be plenty of twos and threes scored. The wind tends to swirl around in circles on windy days and this brings the swing bowlers into the game. It’s back to the red ball but that shouldn’t make any difference to the result.

Australia to win by 5 wickets or 150 runs.

Melbourne Test: Australia

For Australia the only player under real pressure is Marcus Harris. Marnus Labuschagne continues to talk to himself in the third person and score runs at the same time which must be disconcerting to the English team. Mitchell Starc has found his form and Nathan Lyon continues to pose problems at the business end of Test Matches. They’ll enjoy playing in front of the massive crowd.

Batting

Marnus Labuschagne has emerged as the No.1 ranked batter in the world in this series. Not only did he score a century in Adelaide, but he also broke the English bowler’s resolve and he is a hungry player who should continue his form all summer. He’s definitely a contender to win the Allan Border medal this summer.

Travis Head has a spectacular set of numbers next to his name and that’s because he is averaging 73 with a strike rate of 92 per 100 balls. This is what breaks the opposition, especially if the weather is hot and unforgiving. The switch back to the red ball shouldn’t be a concern for him.

David Warner keeps on finding ways to be dismissed in the nineties but that’s not a bad problem to have. He has found a way to bat cautiously and grind the opposition out of the game. This means the batters lower down the order have a much easier time of it and he’s more than made up for Marcus Harris’s questionable shot selection.

Bowling

Mitchell Starc proved in Adelaide that he is still a classy bowler who belongs at this level. Melbourne will suit his style, especially if there’s a bit of humidity in the air. The English batters know that he can bowl a beautiful bouncing ball that moves away slightly at any time and there’s not a thing they can do about it.

Nathan Lyon has continued in fine form this summer and he’ll be in the wickets again late in the Test Match here as well. Importantly he can give the fast bowlers a spell when the weather gets hot which is highly necessary in Australian conditions. The England batters have been afraid to play the sweep shot against him much to their cost.

Jhye Richardson will have given the selectors some thinking to do with his 5 wickets in the second innings at Adelaide. This must put him in front of Hazlewood for the time being but the main point is that the England batters don’t want to face him judging by their body language.

Melbourne Test: England

When things go wrong they tend to stay wrong on an Ashes tour and just about everything is going wrong at the moment.

There’s also an assumption that a player who fails in Australia will never be trusted by an English selector ever again so several Test Match careers are in question. Jack Leach is not entirely out of the picture for this Test following the debacle in Adelaide. No English batter has scored a century so far but there have been a couple of solid performers although nowhere near enough to make a difference. The problem is that they can’t find a way to impose pressure for sustained periods and their fielding lets them down.

Batting

Dawid Malan is one of the two specialist batters for England who can emerge with credit so far in this series. He needs to find a way to score a big hundred that can make the Australian bowlers crack but after three or four or five hours at the crease, he loses concentration and pays the price. Expect him to score at least a fifty here as well.

Joe Root is doing his best with the bat but the big hundreds have yet to come. These are what make the difference in Tests and his imposing average of 62 this year must still worry the Australians. He’s been shackled by some great bowling and the knowledge that there isn’t much else in the batting lineup after he goes.

Chris Woakes showed that he is capable of changing gears when it was required in Adelaide. A late order batter who can stick around and hit the bad ball as he does is just what a struggling team requires and this is at least one less headache for England to worry about.

Bowling

Ollie Robinson has taken wickets in every innings so far and his improved fitness has paid off for him this summer. The Australian batters know that they must treat him with a high degree of respect and they can expect a good ball from him at any time.

James Anderson will enjoy the cauldron that is Melbourne because he loves bowling on a surface that becomes less reliable as the game goes on. He’s in good form and he knows what Ashes cricket is all about. He’s a chance to take five wickets in an innings.

Mark Wood bowled well in Brisbane but missed Adelaide due to an injury. He’s now fit again and he might play in Melbourne, given the desperate situation that England is now in. He is one of the few English bowlers who have the courage to pitch the ball right up to the bat consistently.

Melbourne Test: Betting Odds

Make sure to check out TopSport for the best odds and betting limits.

Melbourne Test: Best Bet

Mitchell Starc to take the most wickets for the match.

Melbourne Test: Best Same Game Multi

Marnus Labuschagne to score the most runs for Australia.
Mitchell Starc to take the most wickets for the match.
Dawid Malan to score the most runs for England.

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