Can Anderson script England's turnaround?

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26 Dec 2021 | 01:35 PM
authorShweta Haranhalli

Can Anderson script England's turnaround?

A look ahead to a riveting day of cricket expected on the second day of the third Ashes Test at Melbourne Cricket Ground

One of the greatest rivalries in the most challenging format of the game, The Ashes has lived up to all the hype and expectations as England and Australia have produced high-quality cricket to enthral the fans all across the globe in the first two Test matches. 

Heading into the Boxing Day Test, England made a plethora of changes to the playing XI of their side, hoping for a spirited batting performance. However, the visiting side endured another dismal run after being asked to bat first in overcast conditions by Pat Cummins. 

The skipper of the home side returned to the playing XI after missing out in the last Test match made an immediate impact by scalping the big wicket of Haseeb Hameed early in the innings. England failed to recover from the early blows and managed to crawl their way to 185 runs in the first innings, courtesy of a sublime half-century from Joe Root. 

In reply, Australia started the innings in a commanding fashion as David Warner and Marcus Harris stitched a 57-run stand for the first wicket. Warner was the aggressor of the two as he scored 38 runs before being undone by James Anderson. However, the Three Lions have a mountain to climb as Australia's middle-order possess a formidable record at the venue. 

While Warner has been dismissed, Steve Smith and Travis Head have amassed 443 runs at an average of 88.6 and 251 runs at an average of 41.83 at the MCG. The duo are second and third on the list of leading run-scorers at the ground and will hold the key for the team in the first innings. 

Time for Harris to shine 

One of the chinks in the armour for the home side has been the performance of Harris in the series. The southpaw endured a dismal run this season and managed to score 101 runs in seven innings at an average of 20.2. 

Despite his poor run with the bat, the 29-year old has been brilliant at the MCG and smashed 1191 runs at an average of 51.78 in 25 innings, the most by any player since 2016 in first-class cricket. 

Harris will be one of the key players heading into the second day of the Test match and would hope to cement his place in the squad with a match-winning contribution. 

England's bowling woes at the ground

While all the focus and attention in the ongoing series has been on the batting unit of the England side, the bowlers have failed to create any impact in the series and allowed Australia to post formidable totals on the board across four innings. 

Over the years, England have struggled with the ball at The G as they have picked 15 wickets since 2016 at an average ball per wicket ratio of 103.7, which is the second-worst among all the teams. 

All eyes on Anderson

After a below-par performance in the first innings, Root would expect his bowlers to produce a clinical performance on a wicket conducive for pacers and restrict the formidable Aussie outfit to a low total. 

England will rely heavily on their spearhead, Anderson, to give the team early breakthroughs on a venue that has been his happy hunting ground. 

Across all the venues in Australia, Anderson has 14 wickets in seven innings at an average of 23.5 at the MCG, which is the best for him on Aussie soil. 

With the visiting side struggling to break partnerships, Anderson will be the key player for England in order for the visiting side to stage a comeback in this game and the series. 

 (Cover image credit - Getty images)

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Australia vs EnglandEngland tour of Australia, 2021/22EnglandAustraliaJames AndersonDavid WarnerTravis HeadMarcus Harris

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