Three Lions to roar back in Melbourne
A crowd of 90,000 is expected for the Boxing Day Test (23:30 Christmas Day, UK time) at the MCG and the series couldn't be better poised, it's 1-1 with two to play. William Hill is offering the best price on an England win at 2/1.
It won't be easy for England though, Australia have won ten of the last eleven matches they've played in Melbourne. If you fancy the Aussies to get a win they're an 11/8 shot. Interestingly there hasn't been a draw at the MCG since 1997 so a positive result looks likely. If you disagree you can back the draw at 9/4.
Despite the defeat in Perth England still have confidence in their abilities to retain the Ashes and can take positives from the fact that the series is still very much alive. Last time they toured Down Under they were 3-0 down at this stage and the Series was over.
They also have a good record of bouncing back after poor performances in recent years. After losing the 3rd Test match against Pakistan last summer they won the 4th Test by an innings and 223 runs. In the Ashes in England back in 2009 they came back from poor performances in Cardiff and Leeds with resounding wins in their next matches at Lords and the Oval respectively.
I expect another fightback here and that's why I would recommend you take the best price of 2/1 an England win with William Hill.
There has been alot of talk that Australia will attempt to produce a wicket similar to the one that saw them seal a big win in Perth. England didn't adapt well to the fast bouncy track but it's unlikely they will face similar conditions in Melbourne.
The MCG's curator has denied reports he's been asked to prepare a lively pitch and says he expects a slow surface which will require patience from the batsman. That could suit the likes of Cook (4/1 to top score in England's first innings), Trott (4/1) and Ian Bell (6/1).
We go best price on Ian Bell, the Warwickshire man is likely to be promoted up the order and has looked in fine touch so far in the series.
The pitch could offer something for the bowlers on the first day and that could mean whoever wins the toss could opt to bowl as Strauss did in Perth. In the bowling department for England Jimmy Anderson is struggling with a side injury so he may miss out. There has also been talk that Steven Finn may be rested for the game in favour of Tim Bresnan. With the uncertainty regarding the quicks the best bet for England top bowler looks to be Graeme Swann. Again William Hill offer top price on him at 3/1.
Australia have failed at the top of the order in the last few innings. Phillip Hughes didn't look in good form when returning to the team in Perth, he's 11/2 to be the top scorer. England certainly have the more settled opening pair so the 8/11 for them to have the highest opening partnership looks great value.
Mitchell Johnson was the Man of the Match in Perth, he's 12/1 to take the honour for the 2nd game running and we're top price 11/4 to be top Aussie bowler in the first innings. That price is simply too good to miss.
I think this is a hard game to call and I wouldn't be surprised if either side won. However, due to the price my recommendation is for an England win at best odds 2/1. It should be a great match in front of a huge crowd and you can bet in-play on a wide range of markets from 23:30 on Christmas Day.