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The Ashes: Third Test

AUSTRALIA are only a draw away from retaining the Ashes, and maybe more importantly, a single victory away from winning them outright against what has, thus far at least, been a somewhat outplayed and woeful English touring side. 

The summer has undoubtedly been all about the Australians, who have cruised from start to finish. The first two Tests, as per tradition in Brisbane, and then under the bright lights of the day night, pink ball arena in Adelaide, have seen Australia dominate in every facet despite a series of circumstances which could well have seen them falter in the Adelaide Test. 

But falter they did not. 

They have built their performances with the ball, and backed it up with a weight of runs the tourists simply haven’t been able to match at any point in the series. 

Despite losing Josh Hazlewood to a side strain, and Pat Cummins to the dreaded close contact isolation for the Adelaide test, the Australians still dominated from go to woah, and while England clung onto dear life on Day 5, they were doing nothing more than attempting to salvage what was eventually the unachievable – a draw. 

Mitchell Starc has been phenomenal thus far in the series, taking bags of wickets and leading the home side form the front. Whichever combination of quicks has played alongside him – and for that matter will play alongside him on Boxing Day at the Melbourne Cricket Ground – have also been in fine form. 

Nathan Lyon’s economical, wicket-taking bowling has also played a part, while the form of David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head has been somewhat remarkable over the first two Tests of the series, and even more so when it’s considered the home side haven’t played a Test match in 11 months, the last coming during a humiliation to India last summer. 

In fact, the trio of batsmen – Warner, Labuschagne and Head – are the only three batsmen to have over 200 runs in the first two Tests, and while Joe Root and Dawid Malan don’t sit far behind, they still have a considerable gap to cross. 

If the English are going to find a way to turn this around, it’s going to start with the bat. Root and Malan must find a way to capitalise on their starts and find centuries, while others must find a way to stand up. Their openers have provided very little, and that simply must change from Haseeb Hameed and Rory Burns, although, on the surface, it seems as if very little chance exists for the duo to suddenly reverse their form. 

Ollie Pope and Ben Stokes are also important in the middle order, as is picking the right bowling attack – and simply put, that means picking a spinner, something the side failed to do in Adelaide for a reason which still remains unclear. 

But pick the right attack or not, England need runs if they are going to compete, and at this stage, it has been seemingly impossible to do just that. With the likely return of Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, who terrorised the tourists in the first Test, this almost seems as if the match result is written in stone. 

Australia, and convincingly as they wrap up the Ashes. 

Our best bet: Australia win $1.43 at PlayUp


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