By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE – Australia captain Pat Cummins won the toss and elected to field in the third Ashes test on a green-tinged Melbourne Cricket Ground pitch on Sunday.
Holders Australia, after winning in Brisbane and Adelaide, lead the five-match series 2-0 and can retain the urn with a draw or victory in Melbourne.
The MCG wicket had just over a centimetre of grass, promising something early for the seam bowlers on a cool, overcast morning.
“It feels like a bowling day, there’s good grass coverage here on the wicket,” said Cummins.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to bowl them out this morning but, yeah, we think we’re well suited to bowl up front here,” he added.
England captain Joe Root said he would probably also have chosen to bowl if he won the toss.
“Opportunity to put runs on the board early,” he said.
“I expect a reaction this week. We are more than capable of doing it.”
The match will start at 11:00 am local time (0000 GMT) after a half-hour delay due to rain.
Fast bowler Cummins returns to the side in place of Michael Neser, having missed Adelaide after being identified as a close contact of a COVID-19 case and forced to isolate for a week.
Victoria paceman Scott Boland makes his test debut for Australia after replacing the injured Jhye Richardson in the attack.
England rung the changes, with opener Rory Burns, middle order batsman Ollie Pope, all-rounder Chris Woakes and paceman Stuart Broad all dropped after the 275-run defeat in Adelaide.
Opener Zak Crawley, batsman Jonny Bairstow, paceman Mark Wood and spinner Jack Leach have been selected for the must-win match.
Only one team has ever turned around a 2-0 deficit to win the Ashes. That was Don Bradman’s Australia in 1936/37, which came back to win 3-2 on home soil.
Australia – David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins (capt), Mitchell Starc, Scott Boland, Nathan Lyon
England – Haseeb Hameed, Zak Crawley, Dawid Malan, Joe Root (capt), Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Ollie Robinson, Mark Wood, Jack Leach, James Anderson