Day one of the fourth Ashes Test: Overton in as series heads to Old Trafford

Following the drama of Headingley, England and Australia cross the Pennines for the next instalment of an enthralling Ashes series this week, as the fourth Test gets under way at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

The teams are tied at one win apiece after Ben Stokes’ heroics steered the hosts to an unlikely one-wicket victory in Leeds.

But the return of Steve Smith, who missed the third Test after being struck in the neck by a Jofra Archer bouncer at Lord’s, will give the tourists added hope of a return to winning ways.

Tweet of the day

He may have sat out the third Test through concussion, but Smith returned to the top of the world batting rankings on Tuesday. The former Australia captain replaced India’s Virat Kohli as number one in the International Cricket Council’s Test batting list. Smith, who first climbed to the summit in December 2015 and stayed there until August 2018 when he was passed by Kohli during his 12-month ban from cricket, made back-to-back centuries in the first Ashes Test and 92 in the second.

Quote of the day

Speaking at a pre-match press conference, Australia skipper Tim Paine hit back at Archer’s suggestion that Australia “panicked” on their way to defeat at Headingley. Paine’s side looked certain to clinch an Ashes-retaining victory, only for Stokes’ unbeaten 135 and a last-wicket stand with Jack Leach to carry England to victory. Paine said: “We made some mistakes, it happens. We’ve addressed it as a team, we’ve spoken about it honestly. I was certainly one of those people who made mistakes. But what’s happened in the past has happened and Jofra is entitled to his opinion. It doesn’t faze us one way or another.”

Pic from the past

England have not won an Ashes Test at Old Trafford since 1981, when Ian Botham (pictured with a celebratory drink) scored a second-innings 118
England have not won an Ashes Test at Old Trafford since 1981, when Ian Botham (pictured with a celebratory drink) scored a second-innings 118 (PA)

One to watch

Craig Overton took the wicket of Steve Smith on his debut
Craig Overton took the wicket of Steve Smith on his debut (Jason O’Brien/PA)

Craig Overton was handed a surprise call-up for the fourth Test, coming into the side in place of Chris Woakes. The Somerset paceman has played three Tests for England, two in the 2017-18 Ashes in Australia and one in New Zealand in March of last year. As an England debutant, Overton bowled out Smith in Adelaide two years ago.

Order, order

Jason Roy will bat at number four for England
Jason Roy will bat at number four for England (Mike Egerton/PA)

Jason Roy’s struggles at the top of the order so far in the series have seen him swap places with Joe Denly for the fourth Test, and captain Joe Root is confident Roy can make the number four position his own, saying: “Jason is a high-quality player, we all know that, and he might be better suited at four. 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.”

Eyes on the skies

Rain caused delays during the third Test at Headingley
Rain caused delays during the third Test at Headingley (Gareth Copley/PA)

The weather has been a nuisance at times during this series and the forecasts suggest there could be more rain on the way on Wednesday. The Met Office predicts at least a 30 per cent chance of showers from 9am until the evening, with that figure peaking at 40 per cent between 3pm and 6pm.

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