Former cricket executive and businessman Christopher Dehring has admitted to being disheartened by the stark difference in the sport’s infrastructure between the West Indies and developed nations.

The Caribbean team dominated the sport for the better part of 20-years, during that time routinely beating some of the world’s top teams was commonplace.  In recent times, however, the Windies have found it difficult to even remain competitive when facing the likes of Australia, England, and India.  One major reason suggested for the decline is the level of investment in the sport, particularly as it relates to youth development and infrastructure.  According to Dehring, the harsh reality was laid bare after working in South Africa during the cricket World Cup.

“I always knew the Australias, the Englands of this World had incredible facilities and such an incredible professional cricket structure that I knew the days were numbered.  But when I went to South Africa and saw what they had in place, even their high schools, your heart sank,” Dehring said recently on the Mason and Guest radio program.

Currently, the West Indies are ranked 8th in the world in Test cricket, the same in One Day Internationals, and despite claiming two T20 World titles, are 9th in that format, on the back of a disastrous showing at this year’s World Cup.

“We have some talented youngsters in the Caribbean, but we just do not have the professional structure to develop it, own it and churn it out year after year,” he added.

“You see the fruit of that vine now, it’s very inconsistent…there’s no West Indies team that when they step out on the field they don’t look like the athletes of the day.  That’s just from a visual aesthetic perspective, we were the athletes…We were the athletic reservoir people would pay to come and see.”

Despite, the introduction of the Yo-Yo Intermittent Test a few years ago, questions have constantly been asked regarding the team’s level of fitness, with some players notably overweight.

West Indies U19 head coach Floyd Reifer is happy with his team’s preparations ahead of the start of their four Youth One-Day-International series against South Africa U19s on Sunday in St. Vincent.


“The team has settled in very well. The last couple of net sessions we had were very good, especially yesterday’s session, where we had a very good gym session in the morning before we went into the nets in the afternoon. I thought the bowlers bowled aggressively, hitting their lines and lengths very hard. The batters are doing very well and we’re still making sure they get in their drills to practice the shots that they want to play in the game so all is going well,” Reifer said.
Reifer noted that the quality of the pitches they practiced on got better as time went on.


“The first day the pitches were a bit slow, obviously, because it was short notice and the guys didn’t have a lot of time to prepare the pitches but yesterday, they were very good for bowling and batting so the boys were happy,” Reifer added.
The former Barbados and West Indies batsman also spoke about how his players are coping with the pressure of playing in a home World Cup.
“These youngsters understand what and who they represent. They know they represent the millions of people in the Caribbean and the millions of people that follow West Indies cricket around the world as well so they know what they’re playing for…they know the importance of the World Cup,” he said.


Reifer says the players have shown a better understanding of what it takes to be elite athletes as time has gone on.
“They’ve been preparing very well mentally, physically, and skillfully. Even off the field, they’re eating better, they’re hydrating better so they understand the importance of being elite athletes. I think they’re on the right road and the right path in terms of understanding. They’ve come a long way in terms of where we started in January to where we are now.” Reifer said while going on to commend them on their noticeable maturity as youngsters.
“There’s vast improvement and vast development. It’s good to see that these youngsters have adapted and adjusted to the lifestyle of being a professional. The conversations that they’re having with each other are very mature conversations so I’m very happy to hear that as well. All in all, we’re doing well and continuing to prepare,” he said.


Reifer finally spoke about a focus on the tactical aspects of the game in the few weeks leading up to the World Cup.
“We’re focusing a lot more now on the tactical side of the game. Focusing a lot more on game awareness and guys understanding their roles. Even in the discussions that we’ve had over the last two days, they understand their roles and responsibilities within the team. They understand about having that killer instinct and positive mindset to go out there and do well,” Reifer said.


The West Indies U19s first match in the World Cup will be against Australia U19s at Providence in Guyana on January 14, 2022.
They will compete in Group D alongside Australia U19s, Scotland U19s, and Sri Lanka U19s.

England have made sweeping changes ahead of the Ashes Boxing Day Test with Rory Burns, Ollie Pope, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes all omitted.

Batsmen Zac Crawley and Jonny Bairstow earn their first opportunities during this Ashes series while paceman Mark Wood and spinner Jack Leach have been recalled.

England trail 2-0 in the Ashes after heavy defeats in Brisbane and Adelaide and will look to keep the series alive at the MCG starting on Sunday.

Opening batsman Burns has been left out after managing only 51 runs at 12.75 along with Ollie Pope with 48 runs at 12 in the first two Tests.

Broad and Woakes make way as England look to add variety to their attack which has allowed Australia to score more than 400 runs in the first innings of both Test matches.

England vice-captain Jos Buttler told reporters on Saturday: "I'd say the reaction is just an honest one from the group. We've had some honest conversations.

"When you come and play Australia we need to be at your best. We're honest with ourselves that we haven’t been there yet. We have to find that very quickly."

Victorian fast bowler Scott Boland has been confirmed for a shock debut in the Ashes Boxing Day Test at the MCG.

Australia captain Pat Cummins, who also returns to the XI after his COVID-19 scare in Adelaide, confirmed the decision on Christmas Day, with Jhye Richardson and Michael Neser dropping out due to soreness.

Boland, who plays his state cricket for Victoria at the MCG, took 8-89 in a match last month against New South Wales. The 32-year-old right-arm fast bowler has played 14 ODIs and three T20Is for Australia and has taken 91 wickets at 25.71 in 26 first-class games at the MCG.

"Really excited for Scott debuting here on his home ground," Cummins told reporters. "Jhye and Ness pulled up a little bit sore after Adelaide, so we made the decision to bring in Scotty. It's a luxury to have someone like him ready to go. He's fresh.

"We earmarked him as a chance for here and the SCG. We think he's really well suited. His record speaks for itself here in domestic cricket. Home ground and having someone fresh and ready to go were big factors."

Cummins explained that Richardson, who took a second-innings five-wicket haul to earn Australia victory in the second Ashes Test and a 2-0 series lead, was carrying a minor leg injury.

"He's pretty sore," he said. "We were umming and ahing. He had a bit of bowl-out yesterday.

"We felt seven days off, give him enough rest. He's got a small leg injury which is nothing major but we felt rather than risk a longer term injury, give him a week off."

Josh Hazlewood remains unavailable due to a side injury but is in the mix to return for the fourth Ashes Test in Sydney starting January 5.

Former West Indies wicketkeeper, Deryck Murray, believes drastic structural changes must be implemented in order for the team to have any hope of regaining its place among the elites of international cricket.

Earlier this week regional cricket governing body Cricket West Indies (CWI) announced the decision to replace lead selector Roger Harper and Miles Bascombe, following a disastrous showing at the ICC T20 World Cup earlier this year, and subsequent fruitless tours of Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

 For Murray, however, the decisions may not run deep enough in tackling the substance of the issue.

“Yeah, they’re going to change the selectors, but are they going to exchange some for others or is it going to be a real radical change in the way West Indies cricket is run,” Murray queried on the Mason and Guest radio program.

“If our cricket is ever going to improve, the first thing to do is to get the board structure right.  The way the board is constituted now, at least three reports have been absolutely clear, The Patterson report, the Caricom Report, and the Wehby report all have said exactly the same thing, the structure, and composition of the West Indies board has to change,” he added.

“The way it’s constructed at the moment, all you are going to get is people vying to get people picked who are their friends or come from the same territories and we’re not going anywhere.”

Fourteen years ago, former Jamaica Prime Minister PJ Patterson, Sir Alister McIntyre, and Dr. Ian McDonald produced a Governance Report, which listed 65 recommendations to improve West Indies cricket.  At the time, the document was dismissed as not relevant by the then administration.  In 2015, a Caricom Governance of Cricket report was submitted by a panel chaired by Professor V Eudine Barriteau, which included former President of the Caribbean Court of Justice Sir Denis Byron, Murray, Warren Smith, and Dwain Gill. 

Two years ago, another report, conducted by an independent task force led by former Jamaica Senator Don Wehby, which also included Sir Hilary Beckles, O.K Melhado, Charles Wilkin QC, and Murray, produced 36-pages of recommedations that also pointed to the need for structural reforms.  The majority of the recommendations from any of the three documents are yet to be implemented.

The appropriately named Jaffna Kings, the team of West Indies fast bowler Jayden Seales, continue to reign supreme after defeating the Galle Gladiators by 23 runs in Thursday’s final to claim their second Lankan Premier League title.

The Kings took first strike and got off to a good start thanks to openers Avishka Fernando and Rahmanullah Gurbaz.  Gurbaz was the first to go in the sixth over for 35 with the score at 56-1.

Englishman Tom Kohler-Cadmore then joined Fernando and the two put on a further 63 runs before Fernando was dismissed by Nuwan Thushara for a top score of 63 from 41 deliveries.

The score at Fernando’s dismissal was 119-2 off 12.4 overs when Shoaib Malik came to the crease to join Kohler-Cadmore.  The pair put on a further 62 runs before Malik was dismissed in the 19th over for 23 off 11 balls with the score at 181-3 off 18.2 overs.

Kings captain Thisara Perera strode to the crease to give them a big finish along with Kohler-Cadmore to post a daunting 201-3 off their 20 overs, with Kohler-Cadmore finishing not out on 57 from 41 balls and Perera finishing with 17 off 9 balls.

Thushara and Samit Patel were the best bowlers on the day for the Gladiators, bowling their four overs with figures of 1-32 and 1-33, respectively.

The reply from the Gladiators got off to a spectacular start with openers Kusal Mendis and Danushka Gunathilaka racing to 63-0 at the start of the fifth over before Gunathilaka was dismissed by Wanindu Hasaranga for a blazing 54 off just 21 balls.

Things went from bad to worse for Galle as Australian batsman Ben Dunk was dismissed by Hasaranga off the very next ball for a duck, leaving them 63-2 from 4.3 overs.

Mohammed Hafeez then joined Mendis at the crease to attempt to stabilize the innings.  He didn’t last long as he was run out in the sixth over for 10 from six balls, leaving Galle now 84-3 from 6.2 overs.

Mendis was now joined at the wicket by captain Bhanuka Rajapaksa and the pair put on a further 29 runs before Rajapaksa was dismissed for 14 from 16 balls to leave them 113-4 from 10.4 overs.

Mendis was finally dismissed in the 14th over for 39 off 28 balls to leave the team 129-5 from 13.1 overs.

Dhananjaya Lakshan and Pulina Tharanga were then both dismissed in quick succession by Chatarunga de Silva to leave the score at 143-7 from 15.5 overs.

Samit Patel, who came to the crease at the fall of Rajapaksa’s wicket, made a solid 22 from 20 balls before he became the eighth wicket on the last ball of the 18th over.

The Gladiators ended their reply 178-9 off 20 overs to fall short by 23 runs.  Wanindu Hasaranga was the pick of the bowlers for the Kings with 2-30 from his four overs.

Seales took 1-36 from his three overs for the Kings.

Joe Root says the England captaincy is "not a dictatorship" as the tourists prepare to try and keep the Ashes series alive in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.

Root called on his attack to be "braver" by bowling fuller lengths after Australia went 2-0 up with a resounding 275-run victory at the Adelaide Oval.

England start the third Test in Melbourne knowing they must win to have any chance of regaining the urn and captain Root does not see a problem with himself and the bowlers having a difference of opinion.

"I like to give our bowlers, especially the senior ones, that responsibility," Root said. "They [James Anderson and Stuart Broad] have more than 300 Tests between them and over 1,000 wickets, and they know what they are doing.

"It's working alongside them, it's not a dictatorship. Every now and again, you don't always agree on everything and that's fine.

"Ultimately, it's about coming to a point where you get the results we want. Unfortunately, in the last game, we didn't quite get there."

Root will break former Pakistan batter Mohammad Yousuf's record of 1,788 Test runs in a calendar year if he scores 159 or more in England's last match of 2021.

England must raise their game in the field, having dropped at least five catches in four of their past five Tests. They put seven chances down in Adelaide.

Australia have lost two of the previous three Boxing Day Tests, both of those defeats coming at the hands of India.

 

England set to ring the changes

The tourists are set to wield the axe after two heavy defeats, with Zak Crawley, Jonny Bairstow, Jack Leach and Mark Wood potentially getting the nod.

Rory Burns is reportedly in danger of being dropped and fellow opener Haseeb Hameed is also under pressure, while Chris Woakes looks likely to miss out after he went for 149 runs and took only one wicket in the second Test.

Ollie Pope has also been out of sorts early in the series, failing to reach double figures in his past three innings after starting with 35 at the Gabba.

Crawley has not played for England since a drawn Test against India at Trent Bridge in August.

 

Cummins returns, Labuschagne on top of the world

Pat Cummins returns to skipper Australia after missing the last Test due to coming into close contact with a positive coronavirus case at a restaurant in Adelaide.

Australia now have the number one Test bowler in the world in Cummins and the best batter on the planet, with Marnus Labuschagne taking that mantle from Root.

Labuschagne is the leading run-scorer in the series with 228 at an average of 76 following his maiden Ashes century in the second Test.

Josh Hazlewood is set to miss out again due to a side injury, so Jhye Richardson should get another opportunity after claiming a maiden five-wicket Test haul on his Ashes debut last week.

Australia are set to be without Josh Hazlewood for the Boxing Day Test at the MCG after sitting out of training on Friday as he continues to recover from a side strain.

The 30-year-old fast bowler, who has taken 215 wickets in 56 Test matches, missed the second Ashes Test after sustaining the injury during the series opener in Brisbane.

Hazlewood did not partake in Australia's nets session on Friday, instead watching on as Jhye Richardson and Michael Neser jousted for his spot for the third Test.

Australian allrounder Cameron Green said that Hazlewood would likely be ready for the fourth Ashes Test in Sydney starting on January 5.

“He's going really well,” Green told reporters about Hazlewood. “He was doing his run-throughs today and he’s looking really good. I haven't spoken to the guys for this game, but definitely lock him in for Sydney.”

Neser looms as the bowler likely to drop out for returning captain Pat Cummins after taking one wicket in each innings in Adelaide, with Richardson likely to hold his spot after a second-innings five-wicket haul.

"I spoke to him today and he is good to go," Green said about his state teammate Richardson. "He was so pumped after how he went in that second innings, as you would be, and he’s ready to go again."

Joe Root has backed himself to score a maiden Test century in Australia as England search for a response in the Ashes after a dismal start.

England have been comfortably dispatched by Australia in the opening two Tests, succumbing to a 275-run defeat in Adelaide after a nine-wicket beating in Brisbane.

The tourists are without a win in 12 Test matches in Australia – their joint-longest such run (also 12 between January 1937 to February 1951) – and must defeat Justin Langer's side in Melbourne to stop them from retaining the urn.

Root has been in fine form, scoring 175 runs at an average of 43.75, but the England captain has yet to convert to three figures despite registering eight half-centuries in Australia - only Bruce Laird (nine times) has reached fifty more times in Tests Down Under without ever managing to a ton.

Indeed, Root has already surpassed Michael Vaughan (1,481 in 2002) for the most Test runs in a calendar year by an England player and sits fourth on the all-time list with 1,630 runs in 2021.

Root will eye the Boxing Day Test as a chance to further his record haul and the 30-year-old remains confident he can manage a maiden ton on Australian soil sooner rather than later.

"I expect a response from our players and I would like to bring a nice Christmas present home for everyone who stays up," Root told reporters.

"I feel in a really good place with my batting. I feel confident I can, in these next three games, bang out a hundred in these conditions.

"I know that's a brave thing to say but my conversion rate, this year, it's not been an issue at all.

"I feel like I have managed that well and have an understanding of how I want to score my runs. There's clarity there, I just need to keep putting myself in those positions, just have the bit between my teeth, [make it] 'over my dead body'".

 

Australia number three Marnus Labuschagne, who leads the Ashes scoring charts with 228 runs, overtook Root as the ICC's top-ranked men's Test batter and England's skipper admitted he wants his title back.

"I've never been one for that but it would be nice to have it back for Christmas," he responded when asked about being displaced at the top of the rankings.

Root will also be expecting a response from his bowling attack after he provided a scathing summary post-match in the second Test, in which he slammed his bowlers for repeating mistakes from four years ago and needing to be braver with their lengths.

He hopes his outburst, which was followed up by a "brutally honest" Chris Silverwood debrief with the England players, will act as a catalyst for change on Saturday.

"I did [get angry] at the end of the last game because of the situation we're in and the manner in which we lost," he continued.

"I'll always try to look at things with a level, pragmatic approach but I don't think you could after the way we've played those last two games. I expect a response from everyone this week.

"Twice now we've got ourselves into a position, second innings in Brisbane, first innings in Adelaide, with decent partnerships between me and Mala [Dawid Malan], we needed to go on and we didn't.

"Sometimes that can happen, but the first 20 balls, starting your innings, you've got to be disciplined, you've got to know how you're going to get yourself in the game and we can't afford to be losing eight wickets for 70 or 80 runs.

"It is not good enough, it is not the level that an England Test team should be playing at. The guys know that and they're very aware of that. Their work ethic is very good and you'll have seen how guys practiced and how long they bat for in the nets, but sometimes I think we can be smarter about what we are practicing and how we are practicing.

"And understanding that batting, in my opinion, it's about making good decisions for long periods of time."

Barbados and West Indies wicketkeeper-batsman Shane Dowrich has retained an attorney as he seeks redress over the process used by Cricket West Indies to deny him a renewal of his contract.

The matter came to light earlier this week when Barbados Cricket Association President Conde Riley revealed that he had received a letter from the player’s attorney on the Mason and Guest sports talk show.

In May 2021, Cricket West Indies announced the players who had been retained for the next cycle and Dowrich was not among them. Dowrich, 30, last played in a Test for the West Indies from December 2-5, 2020, against New Zealand.

In the early stages of that tour, Dowrich suffered a finger injury but later asked to be released from the tour citing personal reasons. However, according to his lawyer Philip Nichols, after being given leave from the West Indies, CWI then claims that he was not offered a new retainer contract because he had not played the requisite number of games to qualify for the said contract.

This is the bone of contention for the player, who at the time when he left New Zealand, was the first-choice wicketkeeper/batsman for the West Indies.

Dowrich was subsequently replaced by Trinidad and Tobago’s Joshua da Silva, who has, for the most part, acquitted himself well representing the West Indies as its wicketkeeper/batsman.

Following the New Zealand tour, CWI failed to follow up with the player to determine whether he had managed to put his ‘personal issues' behind him and was now ready to return to representing the regional side.

Nichols tells Sportsmax.TV that his client hopes to have the matter resolved amicably as it is not his intention for the matter to end up in court.

Dowrich has played 35 Tests for the West Indies scoring 1507 runs at an average of 29.07. He has scored three hundreds and nine fifties in that time.

 

Indian Premier League franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad has brought West Indies batting legend, Brian Lara, onboard ahead of the coming season.

Australia head coach Justin Langer backed Mitchell Starc to be fit for the Boxing Day Test, though it remains unclear whether Josh Hazlewood will feature.

Langer's side boast a 2-0 series lead after a nine-wicket demolition of Joe Root's tourists in the opening Test in Brisbane, in which Starc bowled opener Rory Burns with the first delivery of the Ashes, and a 275-run victory in Adelaide.

Starc managed match figures of 6-80 at the Adelaide Oval as Australia made it nine wins in day-night Test matches, the only side with a perfect 100 per cent winning record, in the absence of Pat Cummins and Hazlewood, who injured himself at the Gabba.

Cummins is expected to return in Melbourne after coming into close contact with a positive COVID-19 case last Wednesday, but Langer remained unsure on Hazlewood's fitness as he praised the work of left-armer Starc.

On Starc, Langer told reporters: "He should be fine. He's tough. If he's not right, then we'll look at it. But at this stage, there's no indication suggesting he won't be playing the next Test.

"I'd be very surprised if he doesn't get up for Boxing Day. We will wait and see how Hazlewood pulls up.

"I honestly thought Starc was almost the man of the match last game. He became the leader of the group.

"There's been a lot of talk about Mitch Starc for the last few years but he just keeps turning up. He's an unbelievable athlete and he's incredibly fit.

"His resilience to just keep coming up over and over and over again is remarkable really, and his consistency of length and the way he controlled the tempo of the game last game was a great credit to him, particularly with Patty (Cummins) and Hazlewood not playing."

Indeed, Starc has been the pick of fast bowlers in the series thus far, picking up nine wickets at an average of 21.33, with off-spinner Nathan Lyon the only other player to record as many dismissals (nine wickets at an average of 25). 

The hosts initially named an unchanged 15-man squad for the remainder of the Tests in Melbourne, Sydney and Hobart but have added bowler Scott Boland to the group while the medical team continue to assess the fast-bowling group.

Langer has also confirmed Marcus Harris will open in the third Test, despite the left-handed batter managing just 38 runs across four innings, knowing Australia will retain the Ashes if they avoid defeat at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Dawid Malan insisted the time for talking is over and England must now prove themselves in Melbourne after a dismal start to the Ashes.

England have been outclassed in the opening two Tests, suffering a 275-run defeat in Adelaide after a nine-wicket beating in Brisbane.

The tourists are without a win in 12 Tests in Australia – their joint-longest such run Down Under (also 12 between January 1937 to February 1951).

The third Test starts on Boxing Day at the MCG, with bowler Mark Wood revealing England have held "brutally honest" meetings before Saturday after disappointment last week.

Captain Joe Root also provided a scathing post-match summary of his bowlers repeating mistakes from four years ago and needing to be braver with their lengths, and batsman Malan knows it is now time for England to right their wrongs as they look to keep their hopes of regaining the urn alive.

"We've done a lot of talking," Malan told reporters. "When you lose there'll always be reports that people are at each other. There definitely isn't. 

"One of the things we've been doing this series is a lot of chat amongst the players and encouraging players to challenge each other on a lot of things. 

"We've had good discussions with the coaching staff and without the coaching staff. It's vitally important that we as players take responsibility.

"Ultimately we are the ones who walk onto the field. We get all the preparation and all the knowledge we need, it's up to us to put it in place. We haven't done that well enough. 

"When we have those honest chats as players we feel we learn a lot more. Now it's about not talking any more, it's about putting it into play."

 

Malan has been one of England's standout performers so far, scoring 188 runs at an average of 47, with Root (175 at an average of 43.75) in close company.

However, England's next-best batter is all-rounder Chris Woakes (105), with the trio the only players to accumulate more than 100 runs from the first two Tests.

"Everyone is up for the challenge, everyone is really keen to face up to Australia," Malan added.

"We do it in white-ball cricket, we take them on, so hopefully we can get that mindset and not go into our shells and just try to survive, take the game to them.

"We are almost learning in Test matches because we haven't had that preparation. A lot of the guys haven't played in Australia so are trying to find ways of facing bowlers they haven't faced before but also to get used to bounce here. 

"I know there's a lead-up to dismissals and how bowlers set you up, but a lot of our dismissals were probably soft in the sense that we could have left them. You still have to score, but it's about making the right choices under pressure, myself included. 

"If you look at the way they have batted, the ones who have done really well, they've left really well so it's a good learning curve for us. Hopefully it's not too late."

Eoin Morgan will lead a 16-strong T20I squad in England's tour of the West Indies.

The five-match series takes place in Barbados from January 22 to 30, with the first match scheduled only four days after the final Ashes Test is due to end.

Therefore, none of England's Ashes squad have been considered for selection, while Paul Collingwood will stand in for Chris Silverwood as coach.

Morgan's squad still includes 11 players who travelled to the T20 World Cup, with England reaching the semi-finals, only to lose to New Zealand.

Two uncapped players – George Garton and David Payne – were also named.

Dawid Malan is out in Australia with Joe Root's struggling red-ball side, while seamers Jofra Archer, Sam Curran and Tom Curran are out injured.

Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler are also playing Down Under, as is Ben Stokes, who missed the T20 World Cup to focus on his mental wellbeing.

Tom Banton and Saqib Mahmood are the other players to have been called up who were not involved in the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

The series marks the continuation of England's preparations for the 2022 T20 World Cup, which will be held in Australia.

"We have selected a strong squad with some serious batting power and a balanced attack as we begin preparations ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia," said Collingwood.

"The [T20] World Cup is less than a year away and there will be increased opportunities for the squad in the absence of those players who are with the Ashes squad.

"I have good memories winning a World Cup in Barbados and I'm really looking forward to going back there with this squad to face a very good West Indies who will test all aspects of our skills."

England squad in full:

Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Tom Banton, Sam Billings, Liam Dawson, George Garton, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, Saqib Mahmood, Tymal Mill, David Payne, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Phil Salt, Reece Topley, James Vince.

Australia coach Justin Langer has confirmed Marcus Harris will play the Ashes Boxing Day Test at the MCG against England despite his poor run of form.

Harris has only managed 38 runs from four innings during the series and averages 22.19 during a 12-game Test career with only two half-centuries from 23 innings leading to pressure on his spot as David Warner's opening partner.

Australia's 2-0 Ashes lead has helped ease some pressure on Harris but Langer publicly threw his support behind him in a further boost for the embattled Victorian.

"He'll play in the Test, no worries about that," Langer told reporters on Thursday. "This is his home ground. He's played a lot at the MCG.

"He hasn't made the runs he'd like to so far, but he dominates domestic cricket so he knows that he knows how to play.

"He's a fantastic bloke around the squad ... And we know he's a very good player. For him and for us we're hoping he plays well and gets a good partnership with Davey Warner in this Boxing Day Test match."

Australia's opening partnerships in the four innings this Ashes have equated to an average of 17.75, with stands of 10, 16, four and 41.

Langer added: "We're really confident Marcus has got what it takes to be a successful Australian opening batsman and what we see in the nets, what we see in domestic cricket all adds up to what is potentially a very good Test career.

"One of the building blocks of a great team is the opening partnership and top three. We're determined to get that right."

Former Australia left-handed opener Langer endured similar struggles during his playing career but was backed by ex-captain Steve Waugh.

The 51-year-old coach, who worked with Harris during their time in WA, said it was important Harris felt "important to the team" to bring out the best in him.

"That's absolutely one of the most important things in life, knowing people have got your back," Langer said.

"My experience, when Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Mark Taylor or Allan Border said 'you're in the team', you feel like Superman. You feel like you're important to the team and Marcus Harris is important to the team."

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