Rishabh channels inner Gilly!

Cricket: Fourteen years after Adam Gilchrist smacked Monty Panesar to all parts of the WACA, India’s Rishabh Pant took England’s Jack Leach to the cleaners in a stunning Test counter-attack.

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Steve Smith captaincy, cheating’ scuffing guard, Tim Paine sledging, future, reaction, Rishabh Pant

The drawn third Test against India showed us Tim Paine isn’t always as cool as we think he is, the tourists have more guts than we realised and Steve Smith can never captain Australia again.

The 31-year-old was shocked and distraught to be caught up in controversy when he was accused of scuffing up Rishabh Pant’s guard on day five at the SCG.

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The English came hard for Smith. Former fast bowler Darren Gough blasted it as “plain cheating”, 2005 Ashes-winning captain Michael Vaughan labelled it “very poor” and ex-player and coach David Lloyd wrote in a scathing column Smith must not have “two brain cells to rub together”.

The truth is it was a case of Smith being Smith. The eccentric batsman is forever in his own cricketing bubble and was simply shadow batting and marking centre — a quirky habit Paine assured us his teammate performs regularly in every game and Justin Langer said it couldn’t possibly have done any damage to the pitch.

But as questions are asked about how long 36-year-old Paine has left in the top job, especially after dropping three catches and sledging Ravichandran Ashwin, it’s become clear he can’t be replaced by Smith.

Rightly or wrongly, Smith will forever be tainted by his role in the 2018 ball tampering scandal, which saw him banned for a year and prevented from holding any leadership position in Australian cricket until 2020.

While many in the cricket world, including Australian Test players Trent Copeland and Mark Waugh, leapt to Smith’s defence after this latest furore, the overwhelming sentiment from cricket fans on social media was this: Why, after all Smith has been through, would he put himself in a position to be judged for something that, plainly speaking, was just weird?

He did nothing illegal but shadow batting as a left-hander when you don’t even have another innings to play, then scraping the crease line, left Smith open to criticism he could easily have avoided.

RELATED: Real reason ‘filthy’ Tim Paine blew a gasket

RELATED: Smith responds to ‘cheating’ accusations

The vitriol that came his way showed the scars of Sandpapergate run deep, and any tiny misstep such as this proves Smith can’t escape his past. He certainly won’t be able to if he captains again, because his every move will be scrutinised more than ever.

A repeat of the Sydney scandal — and howls of “the sandpaper villain is at it again!” — will always be just one quirky habit away.

There’s another reason Smith might be better-suited to role where his tactical nous in the field is sought out but it’s informal. When youngster Cameron Green was drafted into the ODI squad to make his international debut earlier this summer, the best since Bradman was asked if he’d had much to do with the all-rounder since he arrived in camp.

Smith said he’d barely spoken to the 21-year-old, because he was so focused on hitting balls in the nets and working on his batting.

As an uncapped player, you’d hope senior players would take the time to make you feel welcome and get to know you. It’s certainly something you’d expect from the captain.

But Smith was too ensconced in his batting bubble to be distracted.

That’s fine — Smith is going to make a lot of Aussie cricket fans very happy if he sticks to his demanding training regimen and scores truckloads of runs for the next five years.

He should feel empowered to take whatever steps are necessary to maintain his status as the best batsman in the world — but if he lacks the people skills to befriend newcomers, he can’t be captain at the same time.

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Rishabh Pant tactic, Wriddhiman Saha, cricket news 2021, beding the rules, criticism

Questions are being asked about India’s use of wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant as he threatened to steal the New Year’s Test from Australia on Monday.

During India’s first innings at the SCG, Pant was struck in the arm by a short delivery from Australian paceman Pat Cummins.

The 23-year-old was consulted by a medic before continuing through gritted teeth, eventually dismissed by Josh Hazlewood for 36.

However, Pant was taken for scans on Saturday and did not don the gloves for India during Australia’s second innings.

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Substitute wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha – who is widely regarded as a significantly better gloveman – replaced him in the field and claimed four catches, including a superb grab to remove Australian No. 3 Marnus Labuschagne.

Earlier in the Test, Pant dropped two regulation catches to give Australia debutant Will Pucovski two extra lives at the crease.

Although he was unable to perform his duties as a wicketkeeper, Pant was promoted up the order and walked out to bat at No. 5 for India on day five.

The explosive left-hander hammered a quick-fire 97 to bring the tourists back into the contest, which at one stage seemed almost impossible.

It was an amazing knock that left fans in awe of Pant’s spectacular strokeplay on a wearing pitch.

Veteran cricket reporter Peter Lalor was less than impressed with the situation, accusing the Indians of manipulating the laws of the game to field “12 players”.

LIVE BLOG: Australia vs India third Test

READ MORE: Cricket great’s scathing rebuke

“Everyone’s getting a bit anxious, and I’m annoyed,” Lalor said on SEN. “This Rishabh Pant thing, this is just rubbish.

“You can sort of motor along with your eyes closed in cricket a little bit and be unaware of regulations and rules and things.

“How on earth can a bloke be not fit to wicket keep and you just happen to have an even better wicketkeeper waiting in the cupboard?

“So the better wicketkeeper goes out there, does the job, pulls off a catch that I reckon nine times out of 10 Rishabh Pant would have dropped, and then suddenly Rishabh Pant is fit enough to bat.

“They’re basically playing with 12 players. Rubbish.

“If you can hold a bat, you can wear a pair of gloves and fumble a few balls like he does on occasion.

“That’s my point, I find this really ridiculous.”

Channel 9 sports reporter Michael Atkinson agreed: “The way Pant is batting, he should have been made to keep yesterday. That arm doesn’t seem to be causing too much concern.

“Sorry but in Test cricket (or any multi day sporting contest) you don’t just get a day off.”

Channel 7 journalist Andrew McCormack added: “So Rishabh Pant promoted up the order and blasting them to all parts but was unable to take his place behind the stumps for all 87 overs of Australia‘s 2nd innings …

“No bandage on injured arm and not one sign of discomfort. Hmmm.”

Between 1980 and 2017, substitute fielders were not permitted to keep wickets in the case of an injury, but the MCC changed the contentious law four years ago.

Pant was eventually dismissed by Australian tweaker Nathan Lyon in the afternoon session, falling agonisingly short of a third Test century.

He had combined with Indian stalwart Chesteshwar Pujara for a game-changing 148-run partnership.


RR Pant, CA Pujara – 148 vs AUS (2021)

VS Hazare, RS Modi – 139 vs WI (1949)

DB Vengsarkar, Y Sharma – 122 vs PAK (1979)

GR Viswanath, AL Wadekar – 120* vs AUS (1969)

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Tim Paine blunders, mocked, babysitting sledge, Rishabh Pant

Tim Paine had some headaches in the opening session of day five of the third Test as India’s batsmen and his own hands hurt Australia.

Cheteshwar Pujara and Rishabh Pant blunted the Aussie attack on Monday morning as they tried to stave off defeat following the early loss of captain Ajinkya Rahane.

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Pujara defended resolutely while Pant counterattacked his way to 73 as they guided India to 3/206 at lunch, keeping the tourists’ hopes of a miracle win or draw alive.

Paine will have been ruing his own missed opportunities to break the partnership as he dropped two tough chances off the bowling of Nathan Lyon. The Australian off-spinner loves bowling to left-landers and twice he managed to rip the ball away from Pant and catch the outside edge, only for the ball to hit Paine’s gloves and bounce away.

Having just arrived at the crease, Pant was on three when he prodded forward but was fortunate to get a big enough deflection that the ball clipped the end of Paine’s fingers rather than nestling into the middle of his gloves.

It was the same story after Pant had climbed into Lyon, hitting him for successive sixes as he neared his half century. Shortly after raising his bat another vicious off-break caught the edge — although the deflection wasn’t as great this time — only for the opportunity to once again slip through Paine’s hands.

According to CricViz, it’s the first time since Paine returned to the Test team in 2017 he has dropped two catches in an innings.

They were both tough chances — the first one in particular — but Paine prides himself on his work standing up to the stumps and will have been disappointed he didn’t snaffle at least one of them.

RELATED: India says racism ‘in Australia’s blood’

RELATED: Kerry O’Keeffe’s scathing sledging rebuke

Paine then celebrated gleefully when he thought Pujara had edged Lyon to Steve Smith at first clip, but he was the only one cheering because the captain’s teammates knew the ball had bounced well short.

Commentating for Fox Sports, former England seamer Isa Guha said of Paine: “There’s a lot on his mind at the moment

“He’s dropped a couple of catches

“Managing his bowlers, where is he going to get a wicket from.”

Former Indian opener Aakash Chopra referenced Paine’s famous banter about Pant babysitting his children during India’s last tour of Australia when taking a cheeky jab at the wicketkeeper on Twitter.

“Not sure if Pant will trust Paine with the babysitting duties,” Chopra wrote. “Paine drops Pant off Lyon. Pant hits Lyon out of the attack. PaineFul.”

Pant dropped some simple chances with the gloves in Australia’s first innings and plenty on social media suggested Paine was simply returning the favour.

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Rishabh Pant Will Pucovski catch in Australia vs India Test match defended by Ian Chappell

Former Aussie Test skipper Ian Chappell has surprisingly sided with Indian wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant on the most controversial moment of day one of the Third Test.

Pant was widely criticised for appearing to claim he caught a top edge off the bat of Will Pucovski before an on-field decision of out was overturned by the video umpire.

Despite a photograph that showed Pant raising the glove with the ball in it off the turf, Chappell declared “I disagree that he claimed it”.

“If you look at the way that he threw the ball away, I thought that was more or less in disgust and it was the guys around him who wouldn’t have had such a good view who were claiming the catch,” Chappell told nine.com.au.

“And bear in mind also the umpire’s soft signal was out. So I disagree that he was claiming the catch, I think he was disappointed that he hadn‘t caught it.”

Asked why Pant hadn’t taken the initiative and informed the on-field umpire he’d grassed the chance, Chappell doubled down.

“I mean yes, he certainly would have had the opportunity to turn around and say ‘I didn’t catch it’,” he said.

“But I think in a situation like that, when a lot of blokes start patting you on the back and telling you you’ve caught it, there can be a moment of hesitation thinking ‘oh gee, did I catch it?’

“So I didn’t have a problem with it.”

Chappell’s view contrasts with the majority of commentary around the incident – including from Pucovski.

“I thought he had claimed it so I just assumed he must have caught it,” Pucovski said. “Maybe I’ve got too much faith in people.”

Shane Warne gave Pant the biggest clip, arguing it would have been obvious to him he’d dropped the young opener for a second time.

“He thought he took it? Well I just can’t believe that because you look at his hands,” Warne said.

“You can’t catch a ball when your hands are basically facing down.

“You watch his hands, he tries but then watch his hands, he sort of bumps the ball onto the ground. You see that? He smothers it, it’s like a try.

“He didn’t actually get his hands underneath so you can’t give that out. How’s he claiming that, how’s he catching that? The only thing underneath the palm of his hands is dirt. So I was a little disappointed with that one.”

Indian commentator Harsha Bhogle called the incident “very tricky” but Warne objected.

“I don’t think it was tricky,” Warne said. “You just can’t catch a ball with your hands in that shape.”

There were plenty of Aussie sports journos sticking the boot in on Twitter too.

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Tim Paine, Gabba boycott, BCCI, Matthew Wade vs Rishabh Pant, cricket news 2021

Reports of the BCCI’s reluctance to travel to Brisbane for the fourth Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy has caused a “bit of tension” between the two sides, according to Australian captain Tim Paine.

When India last toured Australia in the 2018/19 summer, the series was littered with a handful of feisty encounters, particularly between Paine and Indian skipper Virat Kohli.

However, the first two Tests of this series have been relatively subdued, with the exception of one entertaining confrontation between Australian batsman Matthew Wade and Indian wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant at the MCG.

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Speaking to reporters on Wednesday morning, Paine said he enjoyed the ongoing battle between Wade and Pant, warning there could be more to come at the SCG this week.

“It’s been unusually tame, the start of this series, I think it’s because both teams are just happy to be back playing Test cricket,” Paine said.

“There has been such a big break and there is a lot of respect between the two teams.

“It’s boiling away. There’s some stuff starting to happen, there’s a bit of chat starting to happen, so I think this Test is going to be fascinating, not just from a cricket point of view.”

As reported by The Australian’s Peter Lalor on Monday, the BCCI does not want to travel to Brisbane if the mentally exhausted players will be confined to rooms in a hard lockdown.

“If you look at it, we were quarantining for 14 days in Dubai before landing in Sydney and doing so for another 14 days,” an Indian official told Cricbuzz.

“That means we were in a hard bubble for nearly a month before coming out. What we don’t want now is to quarantine again at the end of the tour.”

According to Lalor’s report, the SCG will host two Test matches unless the Queensland government grant an exemption or the BCCI back down from their demands.

Paine admitted the reports from “unnamed sources” was starting to take its toll on the Australian squad, who were eager to play the fourth Test at the Gabba.

Australia has not lost a Test match at the venue since 1988.

“There’s a bit of tension starting to boil under the surface with a lot of unnamed sources coming out from their camp saying where they want to play the fourth Test and where they don’t want to go,” Paine said.

“I think it’s starting to grind a few people, so we’ll see how it goes.

READ MORE: What’s happened to Steve Smith?

“When you hear things like that coming, particularly from India who we know hold a lot of power in world cricket, it’s likely that it could happen.

“For us, we just want to be really clear on this Test match, we know the protocols, we know what’s expected of us, and we are going to focus on that this week. Whatever happens next week happens, and again we’ll adapt to it.

“We’re not buying into where the Test is being played. As far as we are aware, it’s at the Gabba.

“I said in a team meeting the other day we couldn’t care less if you rang us up and said it’s in Mumbai tomorrow we’d get on a plane and we’d go and play it. That’s the way we’re looking at it.”

The third Test between Australia and India will commence on Thursday at the SCG, with the first ball scheduled for 11am AEDT.

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Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill and Rishabh Pant expected to play third Test

Shubman Gill boarded a team bus to return to the hotel with several other members of the touring party after training but a spokesman for the Indian side said social distancing requirements were met.

There has been agitation privately within Australian quarters over a perception the Indian team is not following the rules as closely as the hosts.

India players eating at a restaurant in Melbourne, seemingly in breach of their biosecure bubble.Credit:Twitter

India captain Virat Kohli and limited-overs all-rounder Hardik Pandya were pictured at a shop in Sydney in early December during the white-ball leg of the tour.

The Herald saw an Indian player return to the team’s hotel on Sunday carrying a shopping bag. A staff member at a boutique store at Melbourne’s Chadstone Shopping Centre told the Herald on Sunday they saw several of the five Indian players under investigation in their store on New Year’s Day. Players were also pictured carrying shopping bags on social media.


Players are permitted to go shopping as long as the click and collect option is used.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India is expected to take a pragmatic approach should it find the quintet had breached the biosecurity protocols, given three of the five players – Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill and Rishabh Pant – are in India’s best available XI.

The players can still fly to Sydney with the team on Monday but must remain socially distanced.

Even if their rules are found to have been broken, Cricket Australia is not in a position to impose any sanctions on the players as they are not their employees.

There was a precedent in the Big Bash League when Brisbane Heat pair Chris Lynn and Dan Lawrence were able to play the next game despite being found guilty of contravening competition guidelines.

The alleged breach by the Indian five is considered on the low end. CA’s rules have been set partly to protect players from contracting the virus in the community and spreading it within the team, but also to minimise the chances of them becoming a close contact of any person who was to later test positive, which would jeopardise their ability to travel interstate in the event of border closures.

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Possible coronavirus bubble breach by Indian Test stars, including Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant, investigated by BCCI

India’s cricket board is set to investigate a potential breach of biosecurity protocols involving several players as the NSW Government comes under increasing pressure to lock fans out of the SCG Test.

A video of some Indian players, including Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant, sitting at a table in a Melbourne restaurant has been posted on the Twitter account of Navaldeep Singh.

Singh suggested he paid the bill for the table then hugged Pant, although on Saturday he claimed there was no hug and players kept their distance.

Sharma has only just joined the India squad after completing two weeks’ quarantine and has been appointed vice-captain for the third Test.

The four-Test series between Australia and India is being played amid a backdrop of biosecurity rules, which will get stricter when the squads travel to Sydney on Monday.

Players and staff are permitted to leave the hotel but must dine outdoors.

The protocols have helped Cricket Australia, which requires exemptions from the Queensland Government for players to travel from Sydney to Brisbane for the fourth Test, navigate the country’s latest COVID-19 outbreak.

CA came down hard on Brisbane Heat after Chris Lynn and Dan Lawrence’s biosecurity breaches earlier this season, fining the club $50,000 ($20,000 suspended) and each player $10,000 ($4,000 suspended).

England paceman Jofra Archer’s biosecurity breach in 2020, when he stopped at his house while the squad travelled between hotels, resulted in a one-Test ban.

It will be up to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to investigate the recent incident and decide what sanctions, if any, are levelled.

Rohit Sharma has only just joined the Indian squad.(AP: Aijaz Rahi)

Doctors warn attending Test could ‘supercharge’ spread of virus

The episode comes as the NSW Government rolls out a range of restrictions in response to rising coronavirus cases in Sydney, with masks to become mandatory for many indoor settings.

Outdoor seated events are now capped at 2,000 people, although NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says COVID-safe plans for larger events will be reviewed.

NSW Health officials will do a “walk-through” at the SCG before rubber stamping plans for the third Test, which currently permit a daily crowd of approximately 20,000.

Ms Berejiklian defended the fact that masks will be recommended — but not mandated — at the ground but felt fans would understand if there were any last-minute changes to rules or crowd size.

“During a pandemic, things can move very quickly,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“People in our state understand decisions need be taken [quickly] and the consequences that might occur.”

NSW Opposition Leader Jodi McKay has called for there to be no crowd at the SCG Test.

Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshid issued a public plea regarding an event that could “supercharge the spread of COVID-19”.

“This is a potential transmission site,” Dr Khorshid said.

“As people queue at the ticket gates, at food and beverage stalls and use shared toilet facilities — on top of taking public transport from all parts of Sydney to gather in one central location.

“The decision to hold the Test match with spectators is at odds with the rest of NSW’s appropriate response to the latest outbreak.

“Let’s put health first and watch the third Test on TV.”


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Matthew Wade, Rishabh Pant, cricket news 2020

Australian batsman Matthew Wade has been accused of “fat-shaming” Indian wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant on day three of the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.

Wade and Pant were involved in a cluster of ugly altercations during the afternoon session on Monday, the audio of which was caught on the stumps mics.

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After cracking a classy boundary off Indian paceman Mohammed Siraj, the Australian opening batsman was heard yelling towards the slip cordon: “You going to lose some kilos? Are you 25 or 30 kilos overweight?”

LIVE BLOG: Australia vs India second Test

Wade and Pant then butted heads again in the 25th over of Australia’s second innings, when the 33-year-old Tasmanian asked: “You looking at yourself on the big screen again? It’s very funny, I’ll give you that. Very funny watching yourself on the screen.”

The pair were at it again in the final over before the tea break, with Wade pulling out of a delivery from spin bowler Ravi Ashwin because the wicketkeeper was chirping behind the stumps.

Then on the final ball before the 20-minute interval, Wade left a delivery and spun around on his toes, ending up face-to-face with his new-found Indian rival.

“They are two of the shortest men in Test cricket,” former Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist said on Fox Cricket. “But they were like prized heavyweights then facing off at the weigh-in.”

READ MORE: Smith’s savage sledge to Indian villain

Speaking to Fox Cricket during the tea break, Wade explained what caused the bitter feud.

“He just laughs all the time,” Wade said. “He doesn’t really say much, he’s just always laughing at you.

“I don’t know what’s so funny, it must be my batting.”

Former Australian spin bowler Kerry O’Keeffe claimed Wade instigated the verbal barrage by “fat shaming” Pant.

“I think Matt Wade initiated it with a bit of fat shaming, suggesting he put on a couple of kilos,” O’Keeffe said on Fox Cricket.

“That got it all started.”

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India makes four changes for Boxing Day Test against Australia at MCG as Rishabh Pant gets recall

India has wielded the axe after its record Adelaide collapse, bringing in four fresh faces for today’s Boxing Day Test against Australia at the MCG.

Captain Virat Kohli (parental leave) and Mohammed Shami (broken arm) were already forced omissions, but the changes have not ended there.

Explosive wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant has earned a recall as the tourists aim to bounce back at the MCG.

Veteran keeper Wriddhiman Saha makes way for Pant, while the uncapped Shubman Gill comes in for an out-of-sorts Prithvi Shaw.

All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja is over his injury concerns and has been included, as has pace debutant Mohammed Siraj.

With star opener David Warner still injured, Australia will take an unchanged line-up into the second Test as it seeks to go 2-0 up in the blockbuster series.

India had the edge over Australia heading into day three of the first Test before an almighty collapse saw the tourists skittled for 36 — the lowest total in their history.

Batsman Ajinkya Rahane takes the reins from Kohli for the remainder of the four-Test series and says he is unconcerned by the mind games happening in the wake of the dramatic second innings capitulation.

Australian coach Justin Langer declared he would be fine if the tourists were feeling the pressure after the eight-wicket loss.

“Australians are very good at playing mind games and we let them do that,” Rahane said.

“We are just focusing on ourselves, what we want to do as a team, as a unit, and we will back ourselves as a team.”

Rahane says India will take confidence from its resounding win against Australia at the MCG in 2018, which ensured it retained the Border-Gavaskar trophy.

The teams then played out a draw at the SCG, meaning India won a Test series in Australia for the first time, taking the spoils 2-1.

‘If we give them an inch, they’ll take a mile’

Australia is still heeding the lessons of its flat end to last year’s Ashes and is focused on not faltering in the Boxing Day Test.

Cricket legends, including Ricky Ponting, believe the tourists’ historic collapse could bring about mental scars and result in a disastrous defence of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

While India seem to be in crisis, Australian captain Tim Paine does not have to think too hard about how easily complacency can set in.

Joe Burns keeps his spot for Australia after an unbeaten half-century in the first Test.(AP: James Elsby)

Australia celebrated hard after retaining the Ashes in England last year for the first time since 2001, but then dropped the fifth Test as the hosts levelled the series at 2-2.

“The moment we take our foot off the pedal, and think we’re going all right [performances can slip],” Paine said.

“We saw in England in that fifth Test we can come unstuck pretty quickly.

“A huge focus of ours since that fifth Test since the Ashes has been winning after winning.

“But we’ve been fantastic in how we’ve prepared for this game.

“We can’t pay any attention to mental scars or whatever people are talking about. India is a proud cricket country, they’re an extremely talented side.

“We know some of the players they’re talking about coming in … if we give them an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

This encounter would normally draw a crowd of up to 80,000, but just 30,000 people will be allowed into the MCG.

Despite the strange build-up due to COVID-19 restrictions, Paine is happy just to be playing the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.

“Seeing the MCG sometimes with 30,000 in it you’re a bit disappointed when you turn up,” he said.

“To have 30,000 fans there is certainly better than not playing the Boxing Day Test at the MCG, so everyone’s excited.”

Joe Burns, who entered the series under fire, will again partner Matthew Wade at the top of the order after the Queenslander’s unbeaten 51 in the first Test.


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