The fourth Ashes Test match between Australia and England will be played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground from December 26. The series is tied at one game apiece.
It was a startling comeback from the Aussies at the WACA in Perth on a track that was good advertisement for Test match cricket. Both bowling units had a good chance to knock the other batsmen over, which was a far cry from the ones at Brisbane and Adelaide. Mitchell Johnson’s return to the side and to form and the manner in which Michael Hussey continued to bat signalled an easy win for the home team at Perth.
Given the manner in which the English team (9/5 at BetFred) capitulated in the face of a green-looking track, there is a buzz that the pitch at Melbourne could be pretty similar. And the Aussies could go in with the same bowling line-up. However, Australia could need to be careful of how the track will behave – any lesser help to the quickies than at Perth and Australia could miss out on a spinner. They are slightly favourites to win at 8/5 (bet365), with Coral offering 9/4 in case of a drawn game.
England may not be overly worried about their batting performance at WACA but the series is at such a vital stage that they will know the importance of overcoming their issues. Ian Bell (6/1 at bet365), for one needs to bat at a much higher spot while Paul Collingwood’s (8/1 at SkyBet) bad of form will push him either to number six or out of the side. In case Collingwood is left out, Eoin Morgan (10/1 at Coral) could make it to the playing eleven for England.
However, it is one of the top three for England who has to perform – the in-form Alastair Cook (4/1 at SkyBet), captain Andrew Strauss (4/1 at SkyBet) or Jonathon Trott (9/2 at Coral). A century from at least one of them could put the side on road to a big score.
Australia may have won the previous game but worries remain about their batting. Whether the win will give them enough confidence to overcome their batting problems remains to be seen. For now, it is the batting of Michael Hussey (4/1 at Sporting Bet) and to a lesser extent, Shane Watson (4/1 at Totesport) that has pulled them out of trouble.
However, the form of both, the captain and the vice-captain, Ricky Ponting (4/1 at Totesport) and Michael Clarke (11/2 at BetFred), who have scored two half-centuries between them in six innings, has been below-par to say the least. They get a big one and suddenly, one is looking at a remarkably changed Australian line-up.