After losing the first two matches in the ongoing Ashes 2021-22, England made four changes to their playing XI for the crucial Boxing Day Test in a bid to keep the Ashes alive, while Australia gave fast-bowler Scott Boland his debut. After devastating defeats in the first two Tests at Brisbane and Adelaide, Joe Root’s squad needs to win at the Melbourne Cricket Ground cauldron to stay in contention.

Those defeats were marked by batting collapses, which were compounded by poor bowling and fielding, with the visitors hoping to put a stop to the rot by mixing up the lineup. Zak Crawley has been recalled to replace struggling opener Rory Burns, while veteran Jonny Bairstow replaces youngster Ollie Pope, who has failed to impress.

They’ve also juggled their bowling lineup once more, with speedster Mark Wood returning after being rested in their 275-run loss in Adelaide. In an assault lead by veteran fast Jimmy Anderson and Ollie Robinson, off-spinner Jack Leach is also returning, with Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad being ignored.

The return of captain Pat Cummins, who missed the second Test after being in close contact with a Covid-19 case, gives Australia a boost. Michael Neser is replaced by him. Josh Hazlewood, a fellow pace spearhead, will, as expected, miss the game as he recovers from a side strain.

Jhye Richardson, who claimed five wickets in England’s second innings in Adelaide, pulled up sore after sending down 38 overs and was replaced by Boland, who was making his debut on home soil. Since Jason Gillespie in 2006, the veteran right-armer will be the first Indigenous guy to play Test cricket for Australia.