Australia will look to extend their Christmas cheer into the dead rubber Boxing Day test by subjecting a demoralised England to a fourth consecutive loss in the Ashes at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Anchored by the brilliant batting of captain Steve Smith, the hosts have barely put a foot wrong in the five-match series and will head to the MCG confident of pushing England toward a second successive whitewash on home soil.
However, they will have to do it without their pace spearhead Mitchell Starc, who is nursing a heel injury and has been replaced by Jackson Bird.
While Starc’s absence is a big relief for the tourists, Tasmania paceman Bird has been in impressive form in the domestic Sheffield Shield.
Right-armer Bird also has ample MCG experience, having made his test debut against Sri Lanka at the Melbourne colosseum and also bowled in last year’s Boxing Day test against Pakistan.
More of a line and length bowler, Bird’s inclusion robs Australia of the express pace, swing and left-arm variation of Starc, however.
“They’ve had three bowlers who can all bowl 90 miles an hour (144 kph),” England paceman James Anderson told the BBC of Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.
“But you look beyond that, they’ve got problems.”
نستخدم ملفات الكوكيز لنسهل عليك استخدام مواقعنا الإلكترونية ونكيف المحتوى والإعلانات وفقا لمتطلباتك واحتياجاتك الخاصة، لتوفير ميزات وسائل التواصل الاجتماعية ولتحليل حركة المرور لدينا...اعرف أكثر