England were expected to struggle on this tour but few thought they’d suffer so badly. They lost both the first two Tests and neither was even close. In fact, both were pretty much lost on day one.
It’s because of that, the tourists — especially their captain Joe Root — is copping a lot of criticism, even though his own form has not been too bad.
The third Test represents their final chance to show some life and keep the series alive. If they lose here, the remaining two Tests would become dead rubber and the ignominy of going through that will be very hard for Root and Co.
Root has admitted that emotions were running high in the England dressing room following their latest defeat but he also says he expects his team to respond at the MCG.
Word is that Zak Crawley will be drafted into the side to shore up a frail batting unit, with one of Haseeb Hameed and Rory Burns making the way. The former is likelier. Some have even suggested swapping Ollie Pope for Jonny Bairstow.
You would think that the Aussies, after taking a 2-0 lead in the series and generally rag-dolling England, might want to relax a bit and struggle for motivation. But that would be wrong as newfound motivation would come from the Test Championship. The home side must be gunning for a whitewash, which would help them in the long run.
Josh Hazlewood is out injured and won’t play what is also called the Boxing Day Test. But the Aussies do not seem too worried as not only their opponents have been extremely inefficient so far this series, their replacement for Hazlewood in the form of Cameron Green has also been working out quite well.
Pat Cummins is fit and ready to return, which means one of Jhye Richardson and Michael Neser will have to make way. Since Richardson claimed five in the final innings of the second Test, Neser would likely be the one to get dropped.