Rory Burns: Offered another example of his admirable application with a first-innings 81, confirming his status as the most prolific opener in the series, only to bag a three-ball duck in the second. 6 (out of 10).
Joe Denly: Shuffled back up to the top of the order and showed the right kind of resolve as England searched for a draw, holding out for 123 balls. Will be on duty at the Oval but at 33, for how much longer? 5.
Joe Root: Made a battling 71 on day three then became the first England captain to make three ducks in a series when Pat Cummins bowled him with a snorter on the fourth evening. A second unsuccessful Ashes campaign as skipper. 5.
Jason Roy: Swapped positions with Denly after a torrid time at opener, making 22 and 31. Still looks a long way from proving himself a Test batsman. 4.
Ben Stokes: A crash back to earth after his unforgettable outing at Headingley. Could not produce a third batting miracle of the summer and injured his right shoulder after an expensive stint with the ball. 4.
Jonny Bairstow: Another disappointing return with the bat for a man whose tank might just be empty after a huge workload. Solid with the gloves. 4.
Jos Buttler: Gave a good account of his battling qualities in each innings in what was easily his best game of the series. Needs a major score soon to silence doubts but this was a start. 7.
Craig Overton: Selected to some surprise ahead of Chris Woakes and Sam Curran, the Somerset man’s home debut was a mixed bag. His seamers were only a notch above functional but he dug down for nearly three hours in forlorn pursuit of a draw. 5.
Jofra Archer: Wicketless for the first time in his short Test career in the first innings and down on pace before his juices started flowing midway through the match. Still a huge talent but the quietest of his three outings to date. 4.
Stuart Broad: Continued his playground bullying of David Warner, dismissing him twice for nought, and took his series wicket tally to 19 with five in the match. No blame attached here. 7.
Jack Leach: Will forever rue the front-foot no-ball that cost England the best part of 100 runs from Steve Smith’s bat, but plugged away and turned in another diligent tail-end defence. 5.
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The captivating Ashes battle between England and Australia resumes as the fourth Test begins at Old Trafford with Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Steve Smith ready to resume their starring roles.
The battle for the urn is locked at 1-1 with two games to play after Stokes’ heroics at Headingley pulled the hosts back from the cliff edge, a stunning unbeaten century guiding England to a one-wicket win that instantly earned its status as one of the greatest Tests in history.
Ordinarily, the chance to see the Durham all-rounder pick up where he left off – relentlessly raining sixes down on a wilting Australia attack – would be the only show in town, but this is no ordinary contest.
Instead, there will be equal intrigue on the resumption of the compelling tussle between Smith and Archer, the latter having been felled by a 92mph bouncer to the neck at Lord’s with a subsequent concussion ruling him out of the last match.
Not for the first time this summer, there is a palpable sense of excitement around the England side and Joe Root is eager to ride the wave.
“This is a very special week and a great opportunity for us to build on what was a fantastic win and carry that forward,” said the England captain.
“You come off a back win like that and it’s a big lift for the whole squad, for that game to unravel how it did and for us to turn up here full of confidence and very much alive in this series.
“Every ground we’ve been to we’ve been blessed with brilliant support. It’s been evident everywhere we’ve gone. Everyone wants to play in front of full stadiums and be a part of this.”
There is one new face in the home XI, with Somerset’s Craig Overton recalled 18 months after winning the last of his three caps.
He has not been in an England squad all year but takes Chris Woakes’ place in the side having also edged out Sam Curran, who has been an ever-present squad member without featuring against Australia.
It is, perhaps, notable that his first Test wicket was Smith – clean bowled by an inswinger in Adelaide – and Root has backed him to justify his call-up.
“He’s a competitor,” he said.
“You saw him come into Ashes cricket on debut and straight away he looked very much at home and got himself in a battle. I’m expecting him to do just that this week.
“The extra bounce of a taller bowler gives us a different option on a ground that does perform slightly differently. He’s got good control, good skills and moves the ball off the straight. I expect him to cause some issues for the Australian batters.”
Visiting captain Tim Paine, meanwhile, has admitted he has spent nights wondering how to combat Stokes’ brilliance.
Asked if he feared for his future as captain should England complete their comeback and win the series, he said: “No, I haven’t lost a hell of a lot of sleep thinking about my captaincy but I have lost a bit of sleep thinking how we’re going to get him (Stokes) out, that’s for sure.
“He’s a class player and he’s really confident at the moment. He’s going well. We’ve got some plans for him but we’ve just got to execute them a bit better.”
England captain Joe Root is already excited about the possibility of letting Mark Wood’s raw pace loose in this summer’s Ashes.
Wood walked away with the man-of-the-match award after England’s consolation victory in the third West Indies Test in St Lucia, a 232-run hammering that left the hosts with a 2-1 series win.
James Anderson reduced the Windies to 10-3 with a clinical new-ball spell and spinner Moeen Ali picked up three of his own but Roston Chase delayed the celebrations with a fine 102 not out.
Durham seamer Wood sent down an astonishing spell on fast bowling in the first innings, taking five wickets and breaking the 94mph barrier – speeds not seen from an Englishman in at least a decade.
England have just one more Test, against Ireland, before they attempt to win the urn back from Australia and Root is looking forward to see the rejuvenated Wood cause a stir.
“If he’s firing fit then I’m sure it’ll make some great TV and it would be great to be part of,” said second-innings centurion Root when asked about Wood’s potential Ashes impact.
“It’s great when you see him unleash himself and bowl with that pace and freedom. There’s enjoyment too, you always feel you’re getting the best out of Woody when he enjoys himself on the field.
“I don’t think I’ve been stood as far back at slip before. I’m trying to nurse a hole in my hand from that first catch I managed to cling on to. We might have be smart about how we use him – it’s a learning curve for me, I am by no means the finished article as captain.”
Wood’s reward for his performance at the Darren Sammy Stadium was an all-expenses paid trip to a luxury holiday resort in the Caribbean, though he may struggle to fit it in.
The ferocity he showed in both innings on his first Test appearance in nine months would make him a vital weapon across all formats, with a home World Cup immediately before the Australia Test series.
But, having suffered injury lay-offs and dips in form before, he was careful not to get ahead of himself.
“It’s been a great game and one I’ll always remember, but let’s see what the future holds,” he said.
“Both teams, the Test and ODI, have great players…it’s hard to get in. It will take another good performance to cement my place but I go into the one-day series here with confidence. I didn’t think I’d get a day like I did the other day. Plenty of people were pleased for me and I appreciate the support, I had millions of messages.”
Success in what was effectively a dead rubber in terms of the series will not paper over the heavy defeats in Barbados and Antigua, leaving Root with questions to ponder as skipper.
“It’s been a tough old tour, we played some poor cricket at times,” he said.
“It was really important we won this week. There’s very big games around the corner, whether it’s world Cup cricket or the Ashes and for this team to show that ‘bouncebackability’ and strength of character holds us in good stead heading into a high pressure summer.”
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