The third Ashes Test match of the series will be played between Australia and England at WACA in Perth from December 16. England lead the series 1-0.
England were comfortable winners in the second Ashes Test match at Adelaide, crushing their opposition by an innings. That seems to have pushed the panic button for the Aussies as they made changes to their squad – Phil Hughes, Steven Smith, Mitchell Johnson, Ben Hilfenhaus and Michael Beer are all back into the squad. It remains to be seen which of these make it to the playing eleven at WACA.
England, on the other hand, will be forced to make one change as Stuart Broad is out of the series due to injury and one of Chris Tremlett, Ajmal Shahzad and Tim Bresnan should take his place.
Even before the series started, the tourists were favourites to win it, but after the kind of performance in the Adelaide Test match, it is evident that England will be favourites to clinch it. Betfred offers 7/4 for an English win as compared to an offer of 19/10 (Bwin) if Australia go on to make it 1-1 at WACA. With only three games of the last 16 having ended in draws, it is being tipped at 23/10 (SportingBet) for this game.
The selection affairs aside, the Australian batting looked very vulnerable on a flat-looking Adelaide wicket. Ricky Ponting’s (4/1 at Paddy Power) poor form is one obvious reason but apart from him, the number six position was always a problem. He will be replaced by Steven Smith (16/1 at Paddy Power).
With Michael Hussey (9/2 at Boylesports) having regained his touch, it will depend on some of the others at the top of the innings – Shane Watson (4/1 at SkyBet) and his new opening partner Phil Hughes (9/2 at SkyBet) – to deliver the goods.
England, on the other hand, have been on a batting roll. They have score almost 1150 runs for the loss of only six wickets in their last couple of innings. Kevin Pietersen’s double century puts him back at the top of the favourites list to top-score for his side with an offer of 7/2 (BetFred), while Alastair Cook is at 4/1 (Blue Square). Interestingly, Ian Bell has had a good couple of Test matches despite his limited opportunities and goes in at 11/2 (Blue Square) to end as the top-scorer.
What will be the one factor worth looking forward to will be the nature of the track. After two games where the bat has dominated the ball, the Aussies may be interested in preparing a hard, seaming track but the tactic could backfire in the wake of some good English bowling.