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- English cricketer (born 1990)
Former players and fans have taken aim at England, accusing the tourists of getting their selections wrong again for a third straight Test.
The Aussies won the toss and elected to bowl first in the Boxing Day Test, with skipper Pat Cummins enticed by a distinct tinge of green on the MCG pitch.
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In his first Boxing Day Test as captain, Cummins sent England in on a wicket with around 11mm of grass on it is expected to offer plenty to the bowlers.
It will give debutant paceman Scott Boland early use of his home wicket, where his reputation as an MCG specialist helped him earn his spot in the attack.
"Feels like a bowling day," Cummins said.
"There is good grass coverage on the wicket. Doesn't mean we are going to bowl them out this morning, but we think we are well suited to bowl."
England captain Joe Root also admitted that he would have had a bowl as well, with the decision to leave Stuart Broad out of their side immediately raising eyebrows.
The veteran England quick has taken 526 wickets over an incredible career and has often had the wood over Aussie opener David Warner, in particular.
Broad's omission from the first Test at the Gabba was also panned, with the green Gabba wicket perfectly suited to a bowler of his calibre.
Mark Wood and Jack Leach - who many thought should have played in Adelaide - replaced Broad and Chris Woakes in the England bowling attack as part of four changes to the side that played in the second Test.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan led the criticism of Broad's selection snub in particular, labelling the decision "staggering".
“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.”
Lol England selections man, Jack Leach not picked in Adelaide, Stuart Broad dropped on two green tops 🙃 #Ashes
— depressed england cricket fan (@DPendency) December 25, 2021
The one contest England are winning this #Ashes: getting selection choices terribly wrong. They are now 3 out of 3, with the Broad exclusion for this third test.
— Martijn Bordewijk (@mbordewijk) December 25, 2021
staying up to watch the start of the famous Boxing Day test, why England have named their 11 with Leach in before seeing the conditions today is awful, bowling first on this pitch and not having Broad in is outrageous
— HenryFM_ / Henry Mantle (@HenryFM_) December 25, 2021
“So far the only thing they’ve done right is turn up on time," Vaughan added.
"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.”
Rain delays start of Boxing Day Test
The start of the Boxing Day Test was delayed by 30 minutes after light drizzle began around an hour before the scheduled start of play.
The rain came as Aussie Test debutant Scott Boland was presented his baggy green cap by injured quick Josh Hazlewood, with COVID-19 restrictions keeping the honour in-house.
Boland becomes second Indigenous man to play Test cricket for Australia and the first Victorian to make his Test debut on Boxing Day since current selector Tony Dodemaide in 1987.
Cummins returned after he was forced to miss the second Test in Adelaide through a brush with the virus, and he grabbed Australia's first wicket after finding the edge of Haseeb Hameed for a duck.
Fellow quick Mitchell Starc was also retained in the Aussie attack.
Australia have a stranglehold on the series after winning the first two matches of the five-Test series convincingly.
A win or draw in Melbourne will mean they retain the Ashes.
By contrast, England are in disarray and have dropped four players.
Rory Burns and Ollie Pope join Broad and Woakes on the sidelines as England try to keep the series alive.
Paceman Wood and spinner Leach return to the England XI, while Zak Crawley and Jonny Bairstow will play their first Tests in this series.
England are to wear black armbands for the match, in honour of former England captain, coach and selector Ray Illingworth, who died on Christmas Day.
AUSTRALIA: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins (capt), Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland.
ENGLAND: Haseeb Hameed, Zak Crawley, Dawid Malan, Joe Root (capt), Ben Stokes, Jonathan Bairstow, Jos Butler, Mark Wood, Ollie Robinson, Jack Leach, Jimmy Anderson.
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