Australia v England, 4th Test, Melbourne
December 24, 2006
A favourite hunting ground for Ponting and Hayden
With three wins on the trot, Australia have already sealed the series, but there is plenty to play for at the MCG, which has been an excellent venue for most of the Australian players. Cricinfo looks at some of the stats highlights of the venue.
Melbourne has been a prolific venue for Ricky Ponting
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Australia's dominance over the last decade means they have excellent records at all home venues, and Melbourne is no different - they have won the last seven Tests here, but the last team to beat them was England, who sneaked home by 12 runs in 1998-99. Since then, though, it's all been one-day traffic at the MCG. England have a 19-26 win-loss record here, but almost half that deficit has come in the last nine matches, when they have won three and lost six. (Click here for a list of all Tests at Melbourne.)
Unless the weather interferes, this Test should produce a decisive result as well - in the last 12 matches played here, only one has ended in a draw.
Unlike at most venues, winning the toss hasn't helped teams much here: in the last ten matches, six have been won by the team losing the toss, and only three by the side winning it. Australia have won the toss five times but have only won two of those games.
The numbers also suggest that the pitch here is good for batting early in the game, but then progressively favours bowlers more. In the first innings of the last ten Tests, batsmen average 36 runs per wicket, but that number drops to 31.8, 28.3 and 23.2 in the next three innings.
Fast bowlers have clearly relished bowling here more than the spinners. Pace has accounted for 236 wickets in the last ten Tests, at an average of 29.60, while spinners have only managed 73 wickets at 38.80 apiece. (Click here for more stats on Melbourne.)
The one spinner who has bucked that trend in recent times is Shane Warne. Playing in his penultimate Test, Warne stands on the threshold of 700 wickets, but there's also a smaller milestone to celebrate - he is just one away from 50 Test wickets at the MCG. Warne's average of 24.46 at this ground is marginally better than his career average, while his strike rate - 60 balls per wicket - also suggests this is a venue where he loves to bowl.
England's bowlers would do well to be wary of Ricky Ponting and Matthew Hayden too: Ponting averages 75.25 at this venue, with three hundreds - including his highest of 257 - and three fifties. Hayden's average of 68 - he has scored four centuries in seven Tests - is only marginally lower. And most teams have found it hard to conjure up a breakthrough when these two batsmen get together: in seven innings they have put together 687 runs with three century stands at a phenomenal average of 171.50 (helped by three not-outs), including a highest of 234 against India in 2003-04.
S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo
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