England haven’t got much right this Ashes series but a former skipper has been left flabbergasted after another baffling call.
Welcome to news.com.au’s live blog of Day 1 of the Boxing Day Test from the MCG.
Australia and England are both looking to bring in the changes.
England are set to make four changes from last week’s Adelaide Test, while Australia will welcome back captain Pat Cummins and Scott Boland will make his Test debut at the expense of Jhye Richardson and Michael Neser.
Play was scheduled to begin at 10.30am AEDT, but light rain in Melbourne has delayed the toss by 30 minutes. The first ball will now take place at 11am.
Catch every moment of The Ashes live and ad-break free during play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Try 14-days free now.
Australia wins the toss
Pat Cummins has the toss and Australia will bowl first at the MCG.
The MCG deck is green, the weather is overcast – conditions are perfect for swing bowling.
Cummins couldn’t hide his smile when the coin fell in his favour. England captain Joe Root says he would have made the same call.
The first ball is scheduled for 11am ADT.
Australia XI: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins (c), Mitch Starc, Scott Boland, Nathan Lyon
England XI: Haseeb Hameed, Zak Crawley, Dawid Malan, Joe Root (c), Ben Stokes, Jonathan Bairstow, Jos Buttler (wk), Mark Wood, Ollie Robinson, Jack Leach, James Anderson
‘Staggering’: England get it wrong again
Australia are a win away from winning back the Ashes and a draw away from retaining it but once again, England have got their selection all wrong.
Four players have been dropped from the Adelaide team as Zak Crawley, Jonny Bairstow, Mark Wood and Jack Leach were into the side for Rory Burns, Ollie Pope, Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad.
There is 11mm of grass on the MCG and Mike Hussey said he was expecting plenty of movement off the seam.
But ex-England skipper Michael Vaughan been left perplexed as Broad, a man with 526 wickets in 150 Test matches was once again left out of the side.
Broad was left out of the first Test side at the Gabba which had plenty of grass and movement, before being brought in for the Adelaide Test which had next to no movement, and will be again dropped for the MCG match where movement is expected.
Broad had the wood on David Warner in England under swinging and seaming conditions but has not been given the chance to shine in Australia.
“I look at someone like Stuart Broad, in Brisbane he wasn’t selected on that green top there, he’s not selected here,” Vaughan said on Fox Cricket’s Ashes Daily. “How England have not seen Stuart Broad, with all his experience, such a wonderful Test career, is not going to be bowling a ball on a green top in Brisbane and now not here in Melbourne, that’s staggering really.
“Those are the decisions you have to make in a management group. England will feel that they’ve got the team to try and compete.”
Vaughan said England’s priorities had been all over the shop.
In a year they focused on the white-ball game, Vaughan said England should have allowed the short forms carry on as they had, but had got that wrong too.
He pointed to the use of Leach and spin, saying Leach didn’t get to bowl a ball during the English summer after a good subcontinent tour.
Then Australia went after him in Brisbane on a green top, then didn’t get a run on a dry Adelaide pitch, before getting thrown back in for the MCG, where it’s cool, overcast and even had showers before play.
Asked later about England’s decision, Vaughan said: “So far the only thing they’ve done right is turn up on time. They’ve got pretty much everything wrong. Selection, tactics have not quite been right. You look at that first week and I look again here, Stuart Broad should be playing here. He should have played in Brisbane. How he’s not going to be bowling around the wicket to David Warner on a green top, I just can’t fathom that with the quality he brings.”