It was a more encouraging display by England at Melbourne but a combination of a sluggish pitch and Steve Smith thwarted their attempts to win. Te final game of the series takes place in Sydney starting on Wednesday
At Melbourne 327 was the lowest first-innings score England have conceded in nine away Tests. They followed this up with 492 including Cook’s 244* and were in position to try to force a win but another hundred from Steve Sith after a weather delay prevented this
One of the major problems for the test was the drop in pitch at Melbourne which was slow and led to long periods of attritional cricket. The Sydney Test will be a different matter as the authorities there have always resisted the use of drop in pitches and thus the pitch there will deteriorate over time and likely lead to more varied cricket. Typically the Sydney wickets take spin
For England a pressing matter will be the lack of form and contribution from Moeen Ali, who hampered by injury has been a passenger for much of the series and it is likely that young leg spinner Mason Crane will be given his opportunity at the SCG
For Australia the likely continued absence of Starc with a heel injury makes their attack less threatening. His 19 wickets in three games were not easily replaced at Melbourne though the characteristics of the pitch had much to do with that. In any case spinner Nathan Lyon will be a major threat here.
Australia are now 8/13 to in the final test and therefore to finish with a 4-0 series victory while England are 3-1. Much will depend on who wins the toss and bats and whether England can finally find a way to restrict the prolific Steve Smith who has been the major difference throughout the two sides all through the Australian summer
I will take a chance on England at 3-1 to get a consolation Test win