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Stuart Broad, Rory Burns miss out as England make four changes for third Ashes Test

England are 0-2 down and must win the Melbourne Test to have any chance of clinching the series.

Saurabh Ganguly Editor

Updated - 25 December 2021 10:51 am

Desperate to get their campaign back on track and with possibly the series on the line, England have made as many as four changes to their playing XI for the Boxing Day Test of the Ashes series at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground. Overall, there have been four changes by the Three Lions and none of them are to do with injury-related concerns.

While Zak Crawley has replaced Rory Burns at the top of the order after the latter did not give returns as expected against the arch-rivals, Jonny Bairstow also finds a place in the XI in place of Ollie Pope in the middle order.

In addition, Mark Wood has replaced veteran English pacer Stuart Broad who has been dropped after returning for the second Test while spinner Jack Leach has come in for Chris Woakes after he was left out shockingly from the Adelaide Test on a wicket that assisted the spinners.

It is also worth noting that while a couple of bowling options that have come in have had a good record in recent times, 23-year-old Crawley averages 28.34 from 15 Tests. Similarly, Bairstow, one of the finest batters in white-ball cricket, hasn’t averaged over 31 since 2017 and only scores at an average of 27.30 from seven Tests against Australia.

Crawley asked to open in a Test match after having not batted for more than 2½ months, ridiculous: Atherton

While the changes have all been confirmed by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), the same was hinted by cricketer-turned pundit Michael Atherton.

“Zak Crawley is in consideration to replace Rory Burns; Jonny Bairstow likewise for Ollie Pope, with Mark Wood and Jack Leach potentially coming into the attack for Chris Woakes and one other. One would feel especially for Crawley, a young player making his way in the game and potentially asked to open in a Test match having not batted for more than 2½ months. Ridiculous, really,” Atherton wrote in The Times.

“No batsman, bar Joe Root and Dawid Malan, could complain if dropped, but the lack of cricket played by the reserves must give pause to the understandable urge to change. All of those in possession were forced to sit through what was described as an uncomfortable debrief after the Adelaide Test, and it would be interesting to see how many would respond if given the opportunity again. If Pope, for example, is to have a long career, he has to be able to find a way through sticky patches such as these,” he added.

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