Fourth Ashes Test: Starts 23:30 GMT 25th December, Melbourne Cricket Ground

With the Ashes won, the Australian juggernaut now has its sights set on completing a whitewash – they are a not very attractive to do so. All the momentum is with the home side and England look devoid of answers how to combat both the pace attack and curtail the prolific runs of Steven Smith.

Australia have a formidable record at the MCG, having won five and drawn one of their last six Test matches there including a thumping 8 wicket win over England in the 2013/14 Ashes and a year ago beat Pakistan by an innings and 18 runs so it’s unsurprising they are favourites for the match. However, England have a much better record in Melbourne than at Brisbane or Perth. In the last 10 Test matches they’ve played there they have won four and drawn four – they are to win the match but it’s a big ask for them given the way they’ve performed thus far.

Weather, pitch and conditions

The weather in Melbourne is set fair for the match so I’d avoid backing a draw. The MCG pitch is notoriously good for batting on so expect a fairly high scoring match.

The bowlers

Crucially, Australia are likely to be without leading wicket taker Mitchell Starc who has a bruised heel and who Australia, with the Ashes already secured, want to protect for their forthcoming series.

He is likely to be replaced by Jackson Bird who whilst skilful is not as quick as Cummins or Hazlewood. In the absence of Starc expect Cummins to step up and take on the enforcer role. He is to be the leading wicket taker but more enticing for a bet is Nathan Lyon who is to be Australia’s top bowler. He has a good record at the MCG in Test matches taking 23 wickets. Against England four years ago he took 5 for fifty in the second innings and seems to enjoy the way the Melbourne pitch plays.

England have their own issues. Craig Overton has a cracked rib which is likely to render him unavailable probably to be replaced by Tom Curran who, although clearly hugely talented, also doesn’t possess raw pace. Being thrown into the Boxing day Test for your debut is quite a challenge. It’s unlikely England will make any other changes for this match although if there were any better alternatives there would be a case for leaving out Stuart Broad who has been ineffective this series and looks to me as though he isn’t 100

Odds are correct at the time of posting

Join the discussion