England have swung the axe ahead of the Boxing Day Test at the MCG with the series on the line, dropping two out-of-form batters and shaking up their bowling attack.
Opener Rory Burns and middle-order batter Ollie Pope have paid the price for a lean start to their Australian summer, replaced by Zak Crawley and Jonny Bairstow respectively.
Burns and Pope have made just 51 and 48 runs respectively across the first two Tests of the series, with neither getting close to reaching a half-century.
Towering right-hander Crawley has played 15 Test matches, scoring 737 runs at an average of 28.34 including one triple-figure score and four half-centuries.
The 23-year-old was dropped after the opening Test of a home series against India in August, where he batted at number three.
Bairstow, who is likely to slot in at six but won’t take the gloves despite Jos Buttler’s mediocre series behind the stumps, also hasn’t played since the India series.
The 32-year-old has a decent Test record, playing 78 matches for 4381 runs at 33.7, and scored a century down under in the 2017-18 Ashes.
Pacemen Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes were also omitted as speedster Mark Wood and left-arm spinner Jack Leach come back in.
Broad had a disappointing 150th milestone match in Adelaide after he was rested in Brisbane, while Woakes has been well below his best with the ball.
Wood is back after getting a rest in Adelaide, while Leach adds some variety to the attack after England’s decision to play five seamers last match backfired.
Leach copped a belting at the Gabba, going for 102 runs from his 13 overs with only one wicket with captain Joe Root preferring himself as the spinner in Adelaide.
The tourists, down 2-0 in a best-of-five series, need to win in Melbourne to stay in the hunt for the Ashes urn.
Buttler, who went a long way to saving his position in the XI with a gutsy 207-ball second-innings knock, called for England to have a “backs-against-the-wall attitude” as they fight to save the series.
“We’re certainly not here to just take part and let 70,000 people enjoy another Australian victory,” Buttler said.
“We have to fight back, we want to win the series and we want to win this Test match. We’ll take that backs-against-the-wall attitude because that’s what we need to have.
“I’m sure it will be a hostile environment here but that’s to be embraced and enjoyed, everyone is excited to be here.
“This is why you play the game because you want to be part of big occasions. It isn’t always going to be easy, but you need to turn up in tough situations and play well when it’s hard.”
England XI: Haseeb Hameed, Zak Crawley, Dawid Malan, Joe Root (captain), Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler (wicketkeeper), Mark Wood, Ollie Robinson, Jack Leach, Jimmy Anderson