England make four changes to crucial third Ashes Test in Melbourne with Zak Crawley, Jonny Bairstow, Mark Wood and Jack Leach all drafted in to help turn horror show around… while Burns, Pope and Woakes may have played their last games of the series
- England have made four changes for the third Ashes Test at the MCG
- Zak Crawley and Jonny Bairstow come in for their first appearances of the series
- While Mark Wood and Jack Leach return to the side after missing the second Test
- Omitted Burns, Pope and Woakes may have played their last games of the series
- While Stuart Broad will hope to appear at either Sydney or Hobart – or both
England have made four changes for Sunday’s crucial third Ashes Test at the MCG, with Zak Crawley and Jonny Bairstow coming in for their first appearances of the series, and both Mark Wood and Jack Leach returning to the side after missing the second game at Adelaide.
The changes are as expected ahead of a match which England, 2-0 down with three to play, must win to stand any chance of regaining the Ashes.
Of the omitted quartet, Rory Burns, Ollie Pope and Chris Woakes may well have played their last games of the series, while Stuart Broad will hope to appear at either Sydney or Hobart, and possibly both.
Zak Crawley (left) and Jonny Bairstow (right) have been called up for England’s third Ashes Test
Crawley, who has averaged 11 in Tests since making 267 against Pakistan at the Ageas Bowl in 2020, will return to the opener’s role he last filled at Ahmedabad in March.
For the first time, his partner at the top of the order will be Haseeb Hameed, who is in need of runs himself after making six and nought at Adelaide.
Bairstow will play his third Boxing Day Test at the MCG, but has made just one half-century in his last 24 Test innings, in which time he has averaged 23.
Mark Wood makes a return to the side after missing the second Test at Adelaide
While Jack Leach has also been recalled for the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne this Sunday
But with both Burns and Pope averaging 12 in the series so far, England felt they had little option but to shuffle their pack as they seek to become only the second team in Test history – after Australia in the 1936-37 Ashes – to turn a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 victory.
The return of Wood comes as no surprise following widespread incredulity over his omission at Adelaide, where Woakes batted well but took his series haul with the ball to three wickets at 76.
And it will be fascinating to see how Leach fares after the treatment he suffered at the Gabba, where Australia thrashed his 13 overs for 102.
England are 2-0 down with three to play and must win to stand a chance of regaining the Ashes
The dropping of Broad leaves England without a bowler whose previous two Melbourne Tests have included analyses of three for 45 from 20 overs and four for 51 from 28.
Meanwhile, Australia will hand a Test debut to 32-year-old Melburnian seamer Scott Boland, who comes in to the team for Jhye Richardson, who is not fully fit after his exertions at Adelaide.
Boland is Australia’s second indigenous male Test cricketer after Jason Gillespie. Pat Cummins returns from his Covid scare to lead the team and the attack in place of Michael Neser.
TEAMS FOR THIRD ASHES TEST
1 Haseeb Hameed, 2 Zak Crawley, 3 Dawid Malan, 4 Joe Root (capt), 5 Ben Stokes, 6 Jonny Bairstow, 7 Jos Buttler (wkt), 8 Mark Wood, 9 Ollie Robinson, 10 Jack Leach, 11 Jimmy Anderson.
1 David Warner, 2 Marcus Harris, 3 Marnus Labuschagne, 4 Steve Smith, 5 Travis Head, 6 Cameron Green, 7 Alex Carey (wkt), 8 Pat Cummins (capt), 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Scott Boland, 11 Nathan Lyon.