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Australia testing Ashes pace depth again

Australia are banking on the depth of their pace attack as Scott Boland makes his Test debut on Boxing Day.

With Josh Hazlewood still sidelined, and Jhye Richardson and Michael Neser now unavailable because of soreness, Australia have made two changes to their lineup for the third Test at the MCG.

Boland will become the fourth Indigenous Australian to play Test cricket and the first Victorian to make his Test debut on Boxing Day since current selector Tony Dodemaide in 1987.

Captain Pat Cummins will also return after he was forced to miss the second Test in Adelaide because he was a COVID-19 close contact.

Mitch Starc will be the only paceman to have played in all three Tests, with allrounder Cam Green and spinner Nathan Lyon completing the bowling lineup.

Cummins said any hesitation about testing the pace depth was dispelled by their outstanding performance in Adelaide.

“We knew, even with James Pattinson retiring, we had six-seven guys who could step in and do a really good job,” Cummins said.

“There was a little bit of that worry (about depth) going into Adelaide, but we saw how well Jhye and Nes bowled and gelled, and how well Starcy led the attack.”

Australia have a stranglehold on the series after winning the first two of the five Test series.

A win or draw in Melbourne will mean they retain the Ashes.

By contrast, England are in disarray and have dropped four players for Boxing Day.

Rory Burns, Stuart Broad, Ollie Pope and Chris Woakes were the casualties as England try to keep the series alive.

Bowlers Mark Wood and Jack Leach will return to the XI, while Zak Crawley and Jonny Bairstow will play their first Tests in this series.

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