Ahead of the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), England is likely to make as many as four changes in their lineup, reports in English media reveal.
Zak Crawley, Jonny Bairstow, Mark Wood, and Jack Leach are all likely to return to the playing XI in the third Test. Crawley, who burst onto the scene with his 267 against Pakistan in Southampton, has been a shadow of that player ever since.
He has averaged 11 in the Tests that have followed and has expectedly been left out of the team. As for Bairstow, his technique is quite flawed for Test cricket and although he has played over 75 Tests, he continues to struggle in the longest format.
The desperation is quite clear in the English ranks if these are the changes they are looking forward to making. At the same time, they lack options for their batting order and will continue relying on their run machine, Joe Root, and seasoned campaigners, Dawid Malan and Ben Stokes.
The likely one to make way for Bairstow will be Ollie Pope. Despite being seen as one for the future, Pope has been quite underwhelming and fidgety at the crease. Termed as the next Ian Bell, Pope has seldom lived up to the billing even in home conditions.
England’s bowling attack will undergo couple of changes
England tried to test out an all medium-pace attack at the Adelaide Oval and it backfired tremendously. Having no variation in Tests screams of poor pre-tour preparation and lack of options. However, that isn’t the case with this visiting English side.
They have Mark Wood in their side who can provide the extra bit of pace and can also be the ‘enforcer’, a role New Zealand’s Neil Wagner has redefined in recent times. England also made the mistake of leaving out Jack Leach on a turning track in Adelaide. He is expected to return at the cost of either James Anderson or Stuart Broad.
As goes the satirical statement, every series is considered to be ‘preparation’ for the Ashes and if this is what the Englishmen can come up with, it signals tough times ahead. It will be interesting to see if they can turn this 0-2 deficit around or surrender meekly.