England have made one change in personnel to their side for the fourth Test against Australia at Old Trafford, with fast bowler Craig Overton replacing the dropped Chris Woakes.
Somerset quick Overton was only drafted into the squad after it was confirmed James Anderson, England’s all-time leading wicket-taker, was ruled out with a calf injury.
The same injury has prevented Anderson from bowling in the series since his four-over spell in the first innings of Australia’s 251-run win in the first Test at Edgbaston.
Overton comes into the side on the back of England’s stunning one-wicket win in the third Test at Headingley, inspired by Ben Stokes’s superb 135 not out, that saw them square the five-match Ashes series at 1-1.
The 25-year-old Overton has played three Tests and bowled Australia star batsman Steve Smith on debut at Adelaide in December 2017.
England captain Joe Root, explaining why Overton had been included, told reporters at Old Trafford during his pre-match press conference: “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.”
“I feel like that balances out our attack really well in these conditions.” Root added: “Craig is a competitor. You saw him come into Ashes cricket on debut and straight away he looked very much at home.
“He got himself in a battle and I expect him to do that this week. I expect him to cause some issues for the Aussie batters.”
Root also confirmed the switch of positions between Jason Roy and Joe Denly, with World Cup winner Roy dropping down to number four after struggling as a Test opener.
“Jason is a high-quality player, we all know that, and he might be better suited at four,” 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 and we have seen him play enough international cricket to know what he can do when he gets himself in, so hopefully batting lower down allows him to do that.
“Joe (Denly) has played some good cricket throughout the summer, he has got himself in and he was very good in that second innings (at Headingley when he made a fifty).
“It’s a great opportunity for him to get us off to a good start with Rory (Burns).”
Smith, now back on top of the latest world Test batting rankings published, will be returning to Ashes action this match after he missed the Headingley match with concussion.
This is former Australia captain Smith’s first Test series since completing a 12-month ban for ball-tampering.
He marked his return to the format with scores of 144 and 142 at Edgbaston before making 92 in the drawn second Test at Lord’s -- where he was felled by a 92mph Jofra Archer bouncer.
Root said he was looking forward to seeing Archer bowl to Smith again.
“For everyone watching I’m sure it will be an exciting contest between two world-class players,” Root added.
“What that Headingley win has done is make this a very special week this week and a great opportunity for us to build on what was a great win and carry that forward.”
Meanwhile Australia captain Tim Paine has hit back at suggestions from England fast bowler Jofra Archer that the tourists “panicked” during their extraordinary loss to England in the third Ashes Test at Headingley.
Paine’s team were on course for a victory that would have seen Australia retain the Ashes at 2-1 up with two to play only for Ben Stokes’s stunning 135 not out and an improbable last-wicket stand with Jack Leach to see England to a dramatic win.
Paine faced criticism for the way he led his side in the field during the closing stages of the match and the wicketkeeper has since accepted he made mistakes with his field placings.
But speaking to reporters on Tuesday -- the eve of the fourth Test at Old Trafford -- Paine insisted Australia had not lost their nerve at Leeds and bristled at talk they had “choked”.
“No. Jofra is entitled to his opinion -- he’s had plenty of those that’s for sure -- but as I said, we made some mistakes,” Paine said.
“It happens. We have addressed it as a team.
“I was certainly one of those people who made mistakes. We move on and we are here ready for another great Test match,” added Paine, who worked with former Australia wicketkeeper Ian Healy during training.
“I would do some things differently with my field placings. As I said, the mistakes have been made. We have learnt from it.”