It’s one of the greatest stages, not only in cricket, but all of sport, when Australia walks out onto the MCG on Boxing Day. It’s a day enjoyed all around the country as one of family, friends, relaxation...and cricket. The historic occasion usually offers a gripping contest between Australia and a fierce overseas rival, so this year the West Indies will be desperate to bring some Calypso magic to the battle.
The Windies were outgunned in the first Test in Hobart which wrapped up inside three days, and no one really wants to see that happen again. Well done to those who took the Ladbrokes promotion of that happening for juicy odds of $4.00. After the first session left things evenly poised, Adam Voges and Shaun Marsh took the game away from the visitors with a record partnership as the Aussies monstered the hapless Windies before bowling them out twice.
It was an impressive performance by Australia which has caused a bit of a selection dilemma for Boxing Day. Usman Khawaja has been declared fit and after his majestic century in the Big Bash League, he’s now a certainty to be recalled. But who does he replace?
Shaun Marsh looked back to his best with a superb 182 so he would be unlucky to be dropped, while Joe Burns started the summer really well before his form fell away recently. Personally, I think the selectors need to be wielding the axe on Mitch Marsh. Sure, his bowling is handy but Adam Voges, Steve Smith and Dave Warner can roll their arm over for a bit of relief if needed, but in reality the front four bowlers should be enough to get the job done. A strong top six is what Australia's batting has been lacking for many years and the quest for an all-rounder, just for the sake of it, shouldn’t be written in stone.
Selectors will be conscious of workloads on the quicks but they are coming into this match after a nice two-week break so they will be well rested. Marsh bowled three overs in the first innings and seven in the second innings in Hobart, and that was after the Windies followed on. So there was hardly a great demand for his bowling anyway, and he simply hasn't made any runs.
The Windies will also have to make changes with Shannon Gabriel injuring his ankle badly enough to be ruled out of the series which is a shame as he looked the most threatening bowler early on Day 1. Devendra Bishoo bowled ok in a recent lead-up match, so the Windies may turn to spin to help their fortunes which may not be a bad tactic.
Their real problem is with the bat. Kraigg Brathwaite and Darren Bravo impressed, but they received simply no support from the rest. What changes can they really make? None that will make a difference.
Verdict: The Aussies are well on track to whitewash this series. There is a chance of some rain on Boxing Day but we know that the Aussies don’t need five days to beat this lot which is why they are the $1.07 favourite at CrownBet.
Boxing Day Test Bets
Usman Khawaja was sublime in his recent BBL match at the MCG, and he was coming off back-to-back Test hundreds before that. He should relish the chance to take on a weak Windies team and looks good value to be Australia’s leading run scorer in the first innings at $5.50 at Sportsbet.
We cashed a profit by taking the unders total for the West Indies in the First Test and there’s really no reason not to make the same play in the Second Test. The MCG should suit the Australian attack once again, so happy to make a play Under 244.5 at $1.88 at CrownBet.
Australia have also been starting their innings really well in recent times, which is another reason why I think Joe Burns should be retained. The Opening Partnership line for the Aussies looks a tad low at 35.5 so we’ll play the Over 35.5 at $1.87 at Luxbet.
For more cricket discussion and banter, join in the conversation by following Mr.Cricket on Twitter @MrCricketBYB
Make sure to read full terms and conditions of any betting promotion before placing any bets.
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Take note: Any of the tips in this article are simply the author’s opinion, so bet at your own risk and always gamble responsibly. Also be sure to check out the Before You Bet Twitter Page for all our thoughts in the lead up to bets! Happy punting!
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