England, Australia make changes for pivotal 4th Ashes test
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — England and Australia will mix up their batting orders and make changes to their bowling attacks for the pivotal fourth test of an Ashes series that stands at 1-1.
Both teams used their week off in the middle of a dramatic, action-packed series to tinker with their lineups for the match in Manchester starting Wednesday.
England will drop Chris Woakes and select seam bowler Craig Overton instead, captain Joe Root said Tuesday. Woakes pays the price for only taking a wicket in each of Australia's innings in England's extraordinary one-wicket win in the third test at Headingly, which was inspired by Ben Stokes' final-day 135 not out.
"This ground does perform slightly differently with an extra bit of bounce and a taller bowler will give us an extra option to go to," Root said of Overton, who has three test appearances and played in the last Ashes series Down Under. "I feel like that balances out our attack really well in these conditions."
Joe Denly will replace Jason Roy as the opening partner for Rory Burns at Old Trafford, with Roy dropping down to No. 4 as he searches for some form. Root will stay at No. 3.
Roy, a limited-overs specialist and one of England's star players in its recent Cricket World Cup-winning campaign, is new to the test arena this summer and has struggled against the new ball, top-scoring with 28 in six innings and averaging just 9.5.
"Jason is a high-quality player, we all know that, and he might be better suited at No. 4," Root said. "I think to play in an Ashes series is very exciting and he was extremely excited to get the chance to open the batting but I think that he might be better suited for the middle order on the evidence we have seen over the last three games.
"It's a great opportunity for him to make it his own."
Steve Smith's return, after recovering from the effects of a concussion, and the dropping of Usman Khawaja will bring about a change in Australia's batting lineup, too.
Marnus Labuschagne, who filled in for Smith and batted at No. 4 at Headingley, is expected to take Khawaja's No. 3 position in the batting order, with Smith slotting back into his customary No. 4.
Pace bowler James Pattinson was dropped and Mitchell Starc has been named in the squad, putting him in contention to play his first test of the series.
Smith did not play in Leeds because of a delayed concussion from a bouncer from Jofra Archer that hit Smith in the neck in the drawn second test at Lord's. Smith scored 144, 142 and 92 in his three innings in this series so far.
Khawaja has a series average of 20.33, with his top score of 40 coming in the second innings of the first test won by Australia at Edgbaston.
Head coach Justin Langer said the players were still reeling from the dramatic ending to the third test, where a victory would have seen Australia retain the Ashes.
"We felt like we got our Ashes stolen," Langer said. "Now we've got to work out what we're going to do."
England: Rory Burns, Joe Denly, Joe Root (captain), Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Craig Overton, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, Jack Leach.
Australia (from): David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Matt Wade, Tim Paine (captain), Pat Cummins, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.