Ashes Fourth Test preview: Steve Smith set to return for Australia

England v Australia - 3rd Specsavers Ashes Test: Day Four

Wow, what a Test match! Not many would have given England a chance when Jack Leach joined Ben Stokes at the crease with 73 still needed. Did someone say Test cricket was dead? I don’t think so.

And so on to the Fourth Test with the series fascinatingly poised at 1-1.

It’s a great shame that there’ll be no James Anderson for the rest of the series, the Lancashire seamer having been ruled out with a calf injury for the rest of the summer.

The idea of England’s leading wicket taker and Jofra Archer opening together would be mouth-watering for England fans and a scary prospect for a very shaky Australian batting line-up.

With Anderson out, England have called up Craig Overton to add to Sam Curran and the XI from Headingley.

Overton, who last played for England in March 2018, has picked up seven wickets in three Tests since making his debut against Australia in 2017 and looks likely to play at Old Trafford.

Woakes averages 22.78 with the ball in England and has nine wickets at 29 a piece in this series. However, Joe Root has looked reluctant to bowl him of late, illustrating a lack of belief in his skills.

In the last two Tests, Woakes has only bowled 44 overs, compared to the 64 bowled by Stuart Broad and 75 by Archer. England have also confirmed Joe Denly will open to allow Jason Roy to bat at 4.

The hope being protection from the new ball will allow Roy to improve on his miserable total of 57 Ashes runs from six innings.

Despite the Headingley result, Australia have reason to be confident. They welcome the series-leading scorer Steve Smith back into their middle order and have six fully fit and firing seamers to select from when conditions at Old Trafford are known.

Mitchell Marsh made runs in the recent tour game at Derby but Matthew Wade, despite his recent struggles, looks set to retain his place.

Marnus Labuschagne will move up to 3 and allow Smith to return into his favoured number 4 position. Usman Khawaja will miss out with Marcus Harris to continue at the top of the order with David Warner.

Mitchell Starc’s impressive outing at Derby suggests he will get his first outing on a pitch that promises to be the fastest of the series.

Possible Fourth Test Line-ups

England: Rory Burns, Joe Denly, Joe Root*, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow+, Jos Buttler, Craig Overton, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, Jack Leach

Australia: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Travis Head, Mathew Wade, Tim Paine*+, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon

Like the second Test, weather is threatening to play a significant part at Old Trafford, with plenty of showers around the Manchester area. For the second draw of the series GIVEMEBET have it at 13/5.

England have a strong Old Trafford record in recent years. They have won four out of the last five Test matches played at the venue over the last decade.

However, should the hosts remain favourites given the return of Smith? For Australia to win the Fourth test, it’s 33/20 with GIVEMEBET.

England are 7/5 to win the series with GIVEMEBET and Australia sit at 2/1 with GIVEMEBET and for the series to end in a draw it’s 19/10.

A drawn series will be enough for Australia to retain the ashes, and they are 5/9 with GIVEMEBET to take the urn home.

Many eyes will be on Stokes again. World Cup hero and Man of the Match in the last two Ashes Tests, he is 7/2 to end the series as the top batsman.

For him to repeat his man of the match feat from the third Test in the Fourth, it’s 15/2 with GIVEMEBET.

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