Australia are on a rampant, two wins in a row, two colossal ones at that, heading into the third Test in Melbourne. England’s situation is sympathetic, having lost two in a row, in conditions that has looked alien to them. Despite featuring an all-out pace attack in the pink-ball Test in Adelaide, the Three Lions have looked like a shadow side in comparison with the hosts.
"We're leaving a lot more grass on them. There's a lot more seam movement in the pitches as a result of the grass being left on,” said MCG pitch curator Matthew Page, which all but confirms that the Melbourne Test would be reminiscent of the one between India and Australia.
With plenty of changes expected for either side, it would be interesting to see how the two sides match-up in one of Australia’s biggest Test fixtures – the Boxing Day Test.
Overall 353 | Australia 148 Wins | England 110 Wins | No Result 95
Last Five Matches | Australia 3 Wins | England 2 Wins
Ground Details and Team Combination
Batting hasn’t been the easiest of suits at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, with an average of just 257 runs on the first day at the venue and loss of six wickets. However, the average first innings total at the venue has been 311, with the conditions still staying true for batters in the second innings. As expected, the third and fourth innings would be the toughest suit for the batters.
Out of the 588 wickets taken at the venue, 445 wickets have been scalped by pacers (75.7%) showing the domination of pace attacks. Spin, though, when utilised properly, like how India used the duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, Australia with Nathan Lyon can be deadly as well, with 143 wickets, averaging 41.4.
The team we've picked has a mix of quality batters and bowlers. But remember, while you could go for the above team, you also have the option of choosing your team from Cricket.com’s Fantasy Research Centre. You can use this tool to build your team with the help of algorithms. Then, based on your preferences, the platform will guide you through creating the ideal fantasy XI.
Joe Root might not have a century against his name but he is England’s second highest run-scorer in the Ashes Down Under. The No.4 batter has 175 runs against his name, averaging 43.75, with twin scores of 50+ but with a zero. However, in the other three innings, he has scored 89, 62 and 24, which shows that he hasn’t really let the Three Lions down with the bat.
Steve Smith’s incredible numbers at the ‘G all but makes him a prime batter for being the X-factor in the Boxing Day clash. But there is another monster in the house – Marnus Labuschagne, who has taken the Ashes thus far by storm. In the four innings, the right-hander has scored 228 runs, averaging 76. Three out of his last four scores in the series – 51, 103 and 74, shows that he is going to play a big factor in the third Test.
The return of Pat Cummins ahead of the MCG Test, makes Australia prime favourites to lift the Urn by the New Year. Amongst the current group of Australian pacers, Cummins averages the best at the venue (18.71), with 21 wickets. What’s more interesting is his record against the rivals, England. This Ashes, Cummins in just the one game has picked up seven wickets, averaging just 12.71, making his return dangerous for the Three Lions.
Zak Crawley’s much-awaited return to the English setup is likely to make England a stronger batting unit. While the numbers seemingly are stacked against the right-hander, his ability to play the pacers well swings the discussion in his direction. Criclytics predicts that the right-hander will score 64-96 runs in the third Test in Melbourne.
Joe Root’s battle with Pat Cummins was one of the highly sought battles in the first Test at the Gabba. However, Cummins absence spoilt the battle but his return now rekindles old rivalry. The right-hander has been dismissed seven times by Cummins but has also scored 158 runs, making this battle a real tight one.
Australian XI: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins (c), Mitchell Starc, Scott Boland, Nathan Lyon
England XI: Haseeb Hameed, Zak Crawley, Dawid Malan, Joe Root (c), Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (wk), Ollie Robinson, Mark Wood, Jack Leach, James Anderson