MANCHESTER: Australia is heading to the fourth test at Old Trafford starting Wednesday with the hope that Steve Smith and boxer Muhammad Ali can revive their campaign after the pain they felt when England “stole” their ashes.
Tourists were about to retain the ashes only by the magnificent 135 by Ben Stokes who did not give England an impressive victory for a wicket in the third round at Headingley.
Stokes’ heroics have left the five-game series about 1-1 with two to play.
Australia coach Justin Langer said his ash holders would now be happy for an incident in Ali’s childhood.
“His bike was stolen and that was the fire he needed to become the best boxer of all time,” Langer said.
“We felt a bit that the ashes were stolen the other day. They won that test match, so we felt they had stolen it.”
“Now we have to solve what we are going to do, and use that as fire.
We are not going to feel sorry for ourselves and let it escape us, “Langer added, with the goal of overseeing Australia’s first Ashes series victory in England for 18 years.
Australia will make at least one change, with star hitter Smith returning from the concussion he suffered after being hit by a 92 mph goalie Jofra Archer who excluded him from the third Test.
Smith, in his first Test series since completing a 12-month ball manipulation ban, scored 144 and 142 in Australia’s 251 win in the first game at Edgbaston before making 92 in the second Test tied at Lord ´s.
Marnus Labuschagne, a substitute for Smith’s concussion in Lord’s, has conducted three successive fifty years of testing since his unexpected rise to the side.
One way to include both batters would be for Australia to drop starter Marcus Harris and promote Usman Khawaja, who averages 96.8 in the seven test innings in which he opened, the order.
Rapid pitcher Mitchell Johnson will wait to be selected for his first Test of these ashes in what will be established as the fastest launch of the series, a surface that should also adapt to Nathan Lyon while the off-spinner tries to recover from clumsiness. It has been a winning game of matches in Leeds.
Langer, hit several times in the head during his career as an Australian hitter, was confident that Smith could overcome any doubts he might have felt after being shot down by Archer.
“When they hit you, there is always a small voice on your shoulder. You must have a good strategy and he develops the game better than anyone I have ever known in my life,” Langer said.
“If someone is going to overcome the little demons, it will be Steven.”
Meanwhile, English pacemaker Stuart Broad, the leading bowler of the hosts of this series with 14 wickets at 25.35, was eager to see Smith face Archer again.
“I’m sure when Steve comes, Jofra will be in the ear (of England’s captain) Joe Root wanting the ball,” Broad said.
“I could be standing midway, but I’ll be excited when Jofra asks for that ball.”
Meanwhile, England could launch the same XI that played in Headingley after James Anderson, its leading leader of all time, was ruled out of the last two tests with the calf injury, which means that his four overs in the First entries in Edgbaston will be the only one who loves this series.