Rain can be an ally for England in decisive fourth Ashes Test

The fourth Test begins on Wednesday at Manchester, where England must win to level the series

By Reuters

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England's Stuart Broad during a practice session. — Reuters
England's Stuart Broad during a practice session. — Reuters

Published: Tue 18 Jul 2023, 9:34 PM

Last updated: Tue 18 Jul 2023, 9:35 PM

The weather forecast for the fourth and decisive Ashes Test hints at potential delays, but England captain Ben Stokes on Tuesday said the looming rain clouds will be an advantage as his side are ready to play an even more aggressive brand of cricket.

The fourth Test begins on Wednesday at Manchester, where England must win to level the series. Australia lead the series 2-1, and even a draw would see them retain the urn.

A superb 75 from Harry Brook and some big hitting from tailender Mark Wood earned England a pulsating three-wicket victory in the third Test, dragging the hosts back into contention.

"It helped us in the last game knowing that we had to press the game on to stay in the series," Stokes told reporters.

"If the weather does look like it's going to have an affect on the time in the game, it probably suits us even more because we know what we need to do.

"We can't just go hopefully, we have to look to press this game on. Everyone understands we will potentially be looking to press this game on even more if the weather is what it's predicted to be."

England have made one change to their team for the fourth Test, with fast bowler James Anderson replacing Ollie Robinson in the side that won at Headingley.

The 40-year-old Anderson, who is England's leading wicket-taker in Tests (688), was rested after he struggled to make an impact in the series with just three wickets in the first two matches.

"I've got no doubt that at some point this week Jimmy Anderson will be very crucial for us," Stokes said.

"When you're a world-class performer for such a long period of time, you can understand the frustration for him that he has not felt like he has contributed.

"He's not taken nearly 700 wickets without going through two games of not feeling at his best. World-class performers bounce back and deliver."

Stokes said if they win and the series goes down to the wire, it has got the potential to be one of the best Ashes in a long time.

"Overall, take away Australia and England, the cricket that's been played has been absolutely brilliant. Everyone who's watched at the ground or at home on TV has just really enjoyed the cricket that's been played," he said.

"There've been some pretty special moments out on the cricket ground, some special individual performances as well. I guess that's what you want from sport."

Warner to open

David Warner is set to open in the fourth Test, Australia captain Pat Cummins said on Tuesday, but spinner Todd Murphy could be squeezed out to accommodate both all-rounders, Mitchell Marsh and Cameron Green.

Warner's place looked uncertain after his double failure in the third Test at Headingley where the opener managed a total of five runs and fell to Stuart Broad in both innings.

"Josh will come in for Scott Boland, and the top order will stay the same," Cummins, whose team are 2-1 ahead in the five-match series, told reporters on the eve of the match at Old Trafford.

"Davey (Warner) didn't have his best game last week at Headingley, but prior to that, he has looked really good.

"He has had three 50-run (opening) partnerships, which can be rare over in England."

Replacing an injured Green at Headingley, Marsh smashed a century and grabbed a couple of wickets to make it difficult for the selectors to drop him.

With Green having recovered from a hamstring strain, left-arm spinner Murphy may have to sit out having bowled only 9.3 overs across two innings at Headingley where England won by three wickets to stay alive in the series.

With rain forecast for the last two days of the test, Cummins was fine with the idea of not playing a frontline spinner.

"Part of the conversation is how do two all-rounders fit in, is spin going to be important this week?" the Australia captain said.

"We've played games with one quick, we've played some games with heaps of quicks. It's all really conditions-based.

"As I said last week about Toddy, I would have loved to bowl him a bit more but there wasn't a heap of overs in the game, the ball seemed to swing and seam a little bit.

"So that's certainly something to weigh up this week."


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