England squad given all-clear after Covid scare ahead of third Ashes Test at MCG

England need a resounding fightback from their bowlers if they are to keep their Ashes hopes alive after another chastening opening day for Joe Root’s side in Melbourne.

The captain top-scored with 50 but it was another woeful batting display by his team after Australia skipper Pat Cummins won the toss and opted to turn the screw on England’s top order.

Root was visibly frustrated at the tame manner of his dismissal. His was one of three unforced errors from senior men in a demoralising afternoon session, with Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler also culpable as the tourists were eventually bowled out for 185.

After pointed criticism of his bowling unit after their second Test drubbing in Adelaide, Root now needs his attack to run through Australia – who reached 61 for one at the close after James Anderson removed David Warner.

The pressure will be on the returning Jack Leach to match Nathan Lyon – who claimed three first-innings wickets – on a pitch offering some spin.

When head coach Chris Silverwood set out his blueprint for the side two years ago it was built around one key concept: big first-innings runs. Major totals have simply not materialised, in either innings, and this was the 12th time in 15 Tests this year that England have been dismissed for less than 200.

Former England fast bowler Steven Finn – who was part of a winning Ashes tour in 2011 – believes the batters are confused in their approach.

“They seemed slightly muddled, and not entirely sure where to sit between being aggressive and trying to impose yourself on the game, but also having resolute defence at the same time,” Finn told the BBC’s Test Match Special.

“When you’re looking at it and the way that they played beyond that first hour, I didn’t see excessive seam movement. 185 is way below par.”

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