Australia have announced changes in their 12-man squad for the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford beginning on September 4 as they look to recover from the shock loss at Headingley.
Steve Smith is set to return to the Australia line-up after missing the third Test as he recovered from the after-effects of a blow to the neck. While his replacement Marnus Labuschangne retains his place for the Manchester Test, thanks to his twin fifties in Leeds, Usman Khawaja, the regular No.3, misses out. Khawaja had captained the team in their tour game in Derby, making 72, but it wasn’t enough for the left-hander to keep his spot in the XI.
The visiting side have continued to shuffle their bowling attack, bringing in Mitchell Starc for potentially his first game of the series and leaving out James Pattinson. Starc, who picked up seven wickets in the Derby game, will likely be competing with Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Peter Siddle for three pace-bowling spots. Mitchell Marsh hasn’t got a look in despite a half-century and three wickets in the tour game.
England, meanwhile, have decided to push Joe Denly up the order to open, with the struggling Jason Roy dropping down to play at No.4.
The Headingley epic was all about Ben Stokes’ remarkable 135not out and his last-wicket stand of 76, with Jack Leach contributing 1 not out, that helped England chase a target of 359 to level the series. This after they were bundled out for 67 in the first innings, in response to Australia’s 179. While Jofra Archer picked up his maiden five-wicket haul, Hazlewood responded with five himself.
Australia, who hold the Ashes, need to win just one of the two remaining games or draw both to retain the urn.
Justin Langer, Australia coach: “We felt a bit like we got the Ashes stolen the other day. And to England’s great credit, that’s what they did. They won that Test match , so we felt a bit like it’d been stolen from us. Now we’ve got to work out what we’re going to do, and use that as fire.”
Stuart Broad, England pacer: “I’m going to be a very interested viewer from mid-on because they (Jofra Archer and Steve Smith) are two world-class players going against each other, with a little bit of verbal niggle going around as well. That’s what Ashes cricket is about – the theatre, the excitement, the enjoyment.”