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Tim Bresnan is strongly expected to play in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG as England plan how best to respond to their 267-run defeat at the Waca.
Bresnan’s all-round reliability has become increasingly attractive to England with Steve Finn beginning to show the effects of an exhausting debut season and Jimmy Anderson under treatment for a stiff side.
Finn is England’s leading wicket-taker in the Ashes with 14 victims but he disappeared for more than five an over in Perth and England are determined to impose themselves on a slower pitch at the MCG, the sort of methodical approach that brought them victory in the second Test in Adelaide.
Full story: The Guardian
Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland is confident the MCG will host a world-record crowd of 91,000 for Sunday’s opening day’s play of the fourth Ashes Test.
The record of 90,800 was set at the same venue in February 1961 during the fifth Test against the West Indies.
Four years ago the record almost fell despite cold conditions as 89,155 fans attended the opening day of the Melbourne Test despite Australia already holding a 3-0 advantage.
This time, it’s locked at 1-1 with Sutherland admitting he had some nervous moments following Australia’s mixed performances in the first two matches, a draw in Brisbane and an innings defeat in Adelaide.
“The cricket gods are smiling on us all,” Sutherland told a press conference in Melbourne today.
Full story: Herald Sun
Alastair Cook admits England’s confidence has taken a hit following the defeat in Perth but has backed the tourists to respond immediately in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.
Australia levelled the Ashes at 1-1 with a comprehensive triumph at the WACA, where England were skittled for 187 and 123 on a lively pitch.
Cook, who made scores of 235 not out and 148 in the opening two Tests, does not expect any repeat in Melbourne, despite the expectation of another seamer-friendly surface.
“As a batting unit, we took a little bit of a confidence hit in this game,” he said.
Full story: Sky Sports
Ricky Ponting is expected to recover from his broken finger in time to lead Australia at the MCG on Boxing Day, but the selectors have included New South Wales batsman Usman Khawaja in the squad as a precautionary measure. Khawaja, who just turned 24, is uncapped and will join the team in Melbourne on Wednesday.
“While the NSP (national selection panel) are confident Ricky Ponting will be available for the Boxing Day Test, through an abundance of caution we have named Usman Khawaja as the standby player,” Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of the panel, said. “Usman richly deserves this opportunity following his excellent form at domestic level last season and continuing on this season.”
Full story: ESPNcricinfo
England prepare for the first-class fixture at the MCG with bowling places up for grabs