The Ashes Preview: Australia journey to Headingley in search of series win | The Sporting Base
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The Ashes Preview: Australia journey to Headingley in search of series win

July 5, 2023

The Ashes Preview: Australia journey to Headingley in search of series win

Headingley is the scene for a pivotal third Ashes Test on Thursday night (8:00pm AEST) with Pat Cummins’ men looking to become the first Australian team in 22 years to win a series on English after narrow victories at Edgbaston and Lord’s.

Fresh of a Player of the Match performance, Australian vice-captain Steve Smith becomes just the 15th player in the country’s history to appear in 100 Test matches.

Australia’s 43-run win at Lord’s hardly rated a mention from pundits in the aftermath of the second Test with Jonny Bairstow’s peculiar, fourth-innings dismissal sending the cricketing world into a rare type of frenzy.

Players, commentators, journalists and even prime ministers felt the need to share their thoughts as the discourse deteriorated into a broil of ‘laws of the game’-ers and ‘spirit of the game’-ers.

Whether the dismissal argued around the world has any tangible impact on the psyche of the English or Australians remains to be seen but the Leeds spectators will undoubtedly march through the gates with some added gusto.

Injuries, meanwhile, have forced both sides into changes whilst unforced changes are also being considered in both dressing rooms.

Nathan Lyon has been ruled out for the remainder of the series after sustaining a right calf tear in the field at Lord’s with Todd Murphy set to be his replacement.

Australia enter the clash in the unfamiliar position of navigating a Test match sans Lyon, who became the first bowler in Test history to appear in 100-consecutive matches at Lord’s.

Still just 22, Murphy impressed in his four matches in India earlier in the year taking 7-for-124 in his maiden Test match innings.

Scott Boland may also come back into the selection frame after he was replaced by Mitchell Starc at Lord’s.

Prior to the series, the expectation was that Boland, Starc, and Josh Hazlewood would rotate to some degree and, with just three full days off between the second and third Test, the rotation policy may be enacted.

As for England, vice-captain Ollie Pope has been ruled out for the remainder of the series after suffering a dislocated shoulder at Lord’s.

England have several potential options to deal with Pope’s absence, including shifting Joe Root a spot higher in the order.

Shifting each of their middle-order batters one higher would allow for the return of offspinner Moeen Ali after he was overlooked at Lord’s.

A slightly left-field option could be to utilise Bairstow exclusively as a batter and promote wicketkeeper Ben Foakes.

Dan Lawrence is the only other recognised batter currently in the squad and firms as the most like-for-like Pope replacement.

The 25-year-old has made 11 Test appearances in his career but has not been a part of the side since their tour of the West Indies in March, 2022.

England are also expected to consider bringing Mark Wood into the side after the fiery quick was left out of the first two Tests.

Australia have won four of their past six at Headingley with three of the victories by an innings, however, Ben Stokes’ famous 2019 innings will still be firmly in the memory of both sides when they take the field on Thursday particularly after the England captain went close to replicating it at Lord’s.

Australia enter the match as slight favourites as they look to secure an historic victory and retain the urn.


 

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