England’s desperate quest to avoid a second 5-0 whitewash in Australia in seven years takes them to Melbourne and Alastair Cook’s men must draw on their most recent visit to the MCG to try and restore pride.
Back in 2010, with the series still in the balance, England rallied after a heavy defeat at the WACA to bowl Australia out for 98 on Boxing Day in front of 80,000 Aussies on their way to a innings and 157-run victory.
But this time around everything has gone wrong for the tourists. The Ashes are gone, Jonathon Trott is at home, Graeme Swann has quit cricket and England’s batsmen have not passed 400 once in this series.
The draw, a result which has only occurred 15 times in the 136-year history of Test cricket at the MCG, is priced at 3/1 with Ladbrokes.
Tim Bresnan was one of the heroes for England on their last appearance at The ‘G taking match figures of 6-75 and despite looking undercooked in Perth, the Yorkshire seamer could be an interesting bet at 7/2 to be England’s top first innings wicket taker.
With Stuart Broad’s place in the side in doubt after the injury he sustained from being struck on the foot by a Mitchell Johnson bouncer, Chris Tremlett, Steven Finn and Boyd Rankin are all in contention for a place in the side.
Durham leggie Scott Borthwick and off-spinner James Tredwell have been added to England’s squad but the biggest beneficiary of Graeme Swann’s retirement could be Monty Panesar and the left-arm spinner is 9/2 to be England’s leading bowler in the first innings.
In the batting department, Matt Prior has hit just one half-century in 19 Test innings and looks set to be replaced by Johnny Bairstow behind the stumps.
The Yorkshireman, who would slot in at number seven in the line-up, is 10/1 with the bookie to top score in England’s first innings.
Ben Stokes, one of the only positives of the series for England, is also 10/1 to repeat his heroics of the second innings at the WACA and fire the visitors first innings.
Despite all the talk about England and the make-up of their side for Boxing Day, Australia are in dreamland and they are favourites for another Test victory against their old rivals.
And with a repeat of the 2006/07 Ashes a distinct possibility, a 5-0 win for the Aussies can be backed a 7/4, a far cry from the 50/1 at the start of the series back in November.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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