Despite having opportunities to gain the upper hand in each of the three Tests so far, England were unable to match Australia for long periods and have subsequently surrendered the Ashes after three defeats.
The possibility of a consecutive whitewash down under could become a reality if England do not start well at the MCG.
With regards to selection, England surely have to freshen up their side but it is difficult to second guess any changes with the senior players being the ones who have struggled for form.
Alastair Cook has been in poor form for the whole tour but it is unlikely to see him make way at Melbourne. The likes of Mark Stoneman and James Vince are likely to keep their places, whilst Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow both scored centuries in the Third Test.
Moeen Ali could be one player to make way, with the all-rounder struggling for form with both bat and ball. But his potential replacement, Hampshire spinner Mason Crane, is someone who is predominantly only a bowler and therefore the batting line-up would require a re-shuffle.
The seam department is likely to include at least one change, with both Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad largely ineffective at Perth. Tom Curran could be in line for a Test debut, whilst Jake Ball will be hopeful of a recall.
No matter how many changes there are in the tourists’ team, they will need to show more of a desire to bat for long periods and the ability to capitalise on any chances to take control of the game.
But the fact remains that Australia’s superb trio of pace bowlers, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins have been too good for England, whilst Nathan Lyon has comprehensively out-bowled his spin counterpart Moeen Ali.
Australia brought in Mitch Marsh for Peter Handscomb at the Waca and it’s likely that he will keep his place after a maiden century.
Steve Smith will be hoping for the same again from his side who have completely dominated the series in every department thus far. But this England team have been slightly better than the one that toured four years ago, and they will want to ensure that there isn’t another 5-0 on the cards…
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