The Boxing Day Test is an Australian sporting institution and for the first time in more than thirty years, New Zealand will be given the opportunity to upset the apple cart.
Australia took a handy 1-0 lead with a comfortable win in Perth, and they will be eager to confirm a series win with a similar performance and result at the MCG.
There was a lot to like about the heart with which the Blackcaps played in the nation’s west, but there is no denying that they will need to be a lot better if they are any chance of winning this match and squaring the series.
Understandably, Australia have opened and remain firm $1.30 favourites to beat New Zealand ($6) in the Boxing Day Test.
It has so far been the perfect summer for the Australian Test Cricket Team results-wise, but there is still plenty of work ahead and the Boxing Day Test is shaping as arguably their most difficult task to date.
The conditions in Perth are always extremely favourable for Australia and that was certainly the case again last week, as another enormous performance with the bat from Marnus Labuschagne set up the match and an even bigger performance from Mitchell Starc with the ball was ultimately too much for New Zealand.
For the first time this summer, selectors will be forced to make one change with paceman Josh Hazlewood ruled out of the Boxing Day Test, having suffered a hamstring injury in Perth. Veteran Peter Siddle has been called into camp and will square off with James Pattinson and possible debutant Michael Neser for the vacant position.
We held firm with Labuschagne to top score for Australia in Perth and weren’t let down, so I see no reason to change the formula for the Boxing Day Test. Mitchell Starc also saluted for us in the first Test, but I’m going to revert back to Pat Cummins in the Victorian conditions.
Back Marnus Labuschagne to top score for Australia in the 1st innings @ $4
Back Pat Cummins to take the most wickets for Australia in the 1st innings @ $3.25
This is quite clearly the best test side that New Zealand has assembled since the turn of the century and they will be eager to respond to their loss in the first Test by upsetting Australia at the MCG.
Captain Kane Williamson was kept quiet by the Aussies in Perth and that has probably proven to be the difference, but there were several standout solo performances, namely veteran Ross Taylor with the bat in the first innings and the entire match by paceman Tim Southee.
Southee stood up to fill the enormous void left by the injured Trent Boult, but with news that the prolific left-arm swing bowler is fit and ready to take his place in Melbourne, New Zealand’s attack will be restored to its brilliant best and they are sure to cause plenty of headaches for Australia.
Neil Wagner remains an extremely dangerous bowler in his own right and was unlucky not to take the most wickets for his country in Perth. Given his fitness edge over Boult, I’m happy to back him as New Zealand’s highest wicket taker in the first innings at the MCG, while I’m also happy to back the Captain to bounce back with the willow.
Back Kane Williamson to top score for New Zealand in the 1st innings @ $3.50
Back Neil Wagner to take the most wickets for New Zealand in the 1st innings @ $3.75
Boxing Day Test Betting
As has been the case all summer, you can take advantage of a wide variety of Boxing Day Test betting options right here at Neds, from Man of the Match to mode of dismissal and everything in between!
We tipped Mitchell Starc to take Man of the Match honours in Perth and were subsequently paid out on juicy $10 odds. As I think that Australia will reign supreme again, it is more than likely that someone within their eleven-man make up will win the coveted title and for that reason, I’ll be looking to back a player towards the top of the batting order. Steve Smith is yet to reach full potential this campaign but is ready for a big performance on Australia’s grandest stage.