One of the best events on the Australian sporting calendar is finaly here! The Boxing Day Test kicks off on Sunday and Mr. Cricket is back on deck to run you through the game in full as well as give his betting tips below.
Remember to check out our Cricket Tips page for regular updates throughout the Ashes series as well as betting tips for EVERY game in the 2021-22 Big Bash League season.
Boxing Day Test Betting Tips
Australia vs England, Sunday 26th December, 10am (AEDT)
2nd Test Recap
It was a great result for Aussie fans in the 2nd Test at Adelaide, but a bit of a downer for lovers of a good Test series. The Poms came ever so close to holding out for a draw on the final day, which would have left them down just 1-0 heading to Melbourne. Instead, the Aussies ran out 275 run winners in the day/night Test to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the series.
Batting first, it was the big three of David Warner, Marnus Labuchagne and Steve Smith who all scored 90+ to lead the Aussies to a mammoth first innings score of 473.
From there it was basically smooth sailing for Australia, who bowled England out for 236 in the 1st innings and 192 in the 2nd to claim the win. Mitch Starc took six wickets in the match to help silence some of his critics while youngster Jhye Richardson took 5/42 to lead the Aussies in the 2nd innings.
Predicted XI: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Manus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Mitch Starc, Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland
I think the injury to Josh Hazlewood and the COVID scare for Pat Cummins actually came at the perfect time for the Aussies. It allowed Mitch Starc to really solidify his spot in the Australian pace attack after a lot of criticism in the build up. I think he gets rested for this Test, but due his form in Adelaide, there will be no speculation as to whether this is actually a ‘rest’ or something else.
Richardson’s coming out party in the 2nd innings in Adelaide means that the Aussies now have a strong quartet of pace bowlers to rotate through moving forward, with Neser likely the first back up.
Note: The Australian selectors have confimed that Victorian Scott Boland will make his Test debut in Melbourne, combining with returning skipper Pat Cummins and Mitch Starc.
The other change I think is highly likely is bringing in Usman Khawaja at the top of the order. I was surprised not to see Khawaja get the nod over Travis Head at the start of the series, but surely he can’t be denied a spot over the struggling Marcus Harris now? Harris has pit up just 3, 9, 3 and 23 in his four innings this series at a meagre average of 9.5. Khawaja has opened before and deserves another chance after a dominant year at state level.
Predicted XI: Rory Burns, Haseeb Hameed, Dawid Malan, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Stuart Broad, Mark Wood, Dom Bess, James Anderson
A lot of people are talking up England’s selection failures as the catalyst of their losses in both Tests so far, but I think the simple fact of the matter is just that they aren’t as good of a cricket team as their opponents on Australian soil. Regardless of who they trot out there, I think the Aussies have the wood over them in a big way.
Sure, they definitely made some mistakes at the selection table, but would picking Mark Wood and Dom Bess in Adelaide effected the result, the answer is no. I do think they make some changes for Melbourne, Jonny Bairstow has to come in at the expense of one of the batsmen and at the moment, the likely candidate looks to be Ollie Pope.
They have to play a spinner in Melbourne, either Leach or Bess will fill the roll, I’m leaning towards the latter. Woakes has been an absolute zero with the ball so far this series and they can’t keep picking him because he offers handy lower order runs. They have to go with their best three seamers, and in Melbourne, that will take the form of a three man combination of Wood, Broad, Anderson and Robinson. With fatigue playing a factor, I think Robinson is the likely one to miss.
Are the Poms a chance in Melbourne, yeah. Are the Aussies an even better chance to run away with this series in a 5-0 whitewash, I think so.
With Anderson and Broad in favourable conditions in Adelaide, that was supposed to be the Test where England were a real threat. Instead, the Aussies smashed them by 275 runs. Oh and they did it without the two best Test pace bowlers in the world, who will both be back in the line-up on Boxing Day.
Smith, Warner, Labuschagne and Head have all already racked up big scores this series, and if the Aussies replace Harris with Khawaja at the top, it just adds another batsman who is absolutely world class on home soil.
If they replace Harris with Khawaja, the Australian top five averages on home soil will read as follows: 63.37, 52.97, 73.0, 66.11, 50.52. A top five of Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey averaged less accumulatively in Australia, and you can count on one hand the amount of Tests those guys lost as a group in Australia.
For the first time in what seems like an eternity, Steve Smith is not the highest ranked batsman in the Australian Test side. With a brilliantly grafted century in the first innings in Adelaide, Marnus Labuschagne moved above Smith to No.2 on the Test batting rankings behind only Joe Root, and could potentially climb the next rung on the ladder with another solid performance in Melbourne.
Since coming in as the concussion sub in the 2nd Test of the last Ashes series, Marnus has now played 15 Test matches. In those 15 Test matches, his first innings scores read as follows: 74, 67, 48, 185, 162, 143, 63, 215, 47, 48, 91, 108, 74 and 103. In those innings, he averages 102. The guy does not miss.
Labuschagne Over 38.5 Runs
You can say what you want about Joe Root, but the guys is world class, there is no denying that. The one blemish on his resume is an Ashes hundred in Australia. What better stage to achieve that goal than at the MCG on Boxing Day. He and Dawid Malan have been the shining lights in the English batting line-up and I expect him to perform well again in Melbourne.
Joe Root Over 36.5 Runs