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The Ashes: Third Test preview

The first two Tests of the Ashes series have certainly not lacked for drama, with Australia coming out on top both times to take an almost unassailable 2-0 lead over hosts England.

Only once in the history of the Ashes has a side come from 2-0 behind to win the series outright and that was back in 1936/37, when a Don Bradman-inspired Aussie outfit triumphed on home soil after losing the opening two Test matches.

The current series moves on to Headingley for the third Test and Australia will have to overcome a problem that they have not faced for a decade - how to cope without star off-spinner Nathan Lyon.

WhatEngland v Australia, third Test
WhereHeadingley, Leeds, England
When6th July - 10th July, 2023
How to watchChannel 7, Foxtel, Kayo
OddsEngland 2.60, Australia 2.10Draw 5.00

Calf injury ends Lyon's run at 100

In truth, Lyon played little part in the heated 43-run victory at Lord's in the second Test, having been injured while fielding during England's first innings.

He had taken eight wickets in the series opener at Edgbaston, which went the way of the Baggy Greens by two wickets in another tense finish.

What was later confirmed as a "significant calf tear" means that the series is over for Lyon and it marks something of a circle of life, with the off-spinner missing a Test match for the first time since the Lord's Ashes clash back in 2013.

Lyon is forced on to the sidelines just four wickets short of 500 in Test cricket and after 100 consecutive Test appearances.

He has vowed to come back as soon as is possible, but for now the spin torch passes to fellow off-spinner Todd Murphy.

The 22-year-old made his Test debut in the series in India earlier this year and showed up well in taking 14 wickets in four matches at an average of 25.21 - he is 13.00 to be Top 1st Innings Bowler at Headingley.

He is the like-for-like replacement for the stricken Lyon, with Australia captain Pat Cummins unlikely to want to rely on an all-out pace attack backed up by part-time offie Travis Head.

Seam changes a possibility

With the batting line-up settled and firing well, the only changes Australia are set to ponder are among their fast-bowling options, especially given the tightly-packed nature of the whole five-match series.

Left-armer Mitchell Starc stepped in for Scott Boland for the second Test and delivered his usual mix of wicket-taking pearlers and some less impressive stuff to boot.

The attacking approach of England's batters somewhat plays into the hands of Starc, who is charged with taking wickets and, if they come at a cost, that is okay.

However, Josh Hazlewood may be rested after only recently returning from an injury lay-off, with Boland waiting to deputise after being dropped for the second Test following an expensive outing at Edgbaston.

Hazlewood could be saved by the fact that he took nine wickets in the Headingley Test of 2019 and Cummins may want his team-mate to put in one more big effort to see that the Ashes are retained with two matches left to play.

Hazlewood is 7.00 to be Top 1st Innings Bowler, with Starc priced at 6.00.

Lord's tactics not to be repeated

Much as the second Test thriller excited, at times the cricket played by both sides was not of the highest quality.

The two captains resorted to asking their pacemen to deliver a series of short balls, which it must be said, did eventually work for both teams.

Whether there will be the same approach in Leeds is surely doubtful, with Cummins almost certain to want to see a return to the more conventional way of doing things, which was good enough to make Australia World Test champions.

England's batters are highly unlikely to temper the attacking approach that has become their trademark in recent times, but Cummins and co have shown that they can stand up to that onslaught and come out on top.

They will be highly confident of doing the same again at Headingley, when they have won four of the last six Test they have played in the Ashes cauldron.

That cauldron will never have been hotter, given the tensions on show at Lord's and the memories of the Leeds Test of 2019 - which saw current England skipper Ben Stokes produce one of the all-time great Ashes displays in a one-wicket win for the home side.

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