Day four of the fourth Ashes Test: England facing series defeat

England may require another miracle to keep the Ashes alive in the fourth Test against Australia at Old Trafford.

England will resume on the final day on 18 for two in their second innings, requiring another 365 for an unlikely victory or – more realistically – needing to bat out the final day for a draw.

After Ben Stokes’ heroic performance to win the second Test at Headingley, it may take another monumental effort from someone to save England.

With the series level at 1-1, defeat for the hosts would mean Australia retain the Ashes regardless of the result in the final Test at the Oval next week.

Initial hopes will rest with Joe Denly (10 not out) and Jason Roy (eight not out) after Rory Burns and Joe Root were removed without a run on the board.

Australia claimed a first-innings lead of lead of 196 on Saturday and then rattled up 186 for six declared in their second dig, with the irrepressible Steve Smith adding 82 to his earlier double century.

Tweet of the day

India’s Ravi Ashwin suggests that it is time for Roy to make himself a hero after a disappointing series with the bat.

Quote of the day

Remembering what happened at Headingley just a fortnight ago, England coach Trevor Bayliss is not giving up hope.

Snap shot

Australia’s Pat Cummins will be gunning for move wickets after removing Rory Burns and Joe Root in successive balls on Saturday
Australia’s Pat Cummins will be gunning for more wickets after removing Rory Burns and Joe Root in successive balls on Saturday (Martin Rickett/PA)

Data point

If Roy is to prove England’s hero, the decision to drop him down the order to number four may seem like a masterstroke. This has been a dismal series for opening batsmen, with the possible exception of Burns. The average opening stand in the whole series is just 9.18. England’s best first wicket partnership has been 22 while Australia have not been able to get past 13, a figure they have posted twice.

Day five key battle – Stokes v Lyon

Stokes is once again the man England will look to
Stokes is once again the man England will look to (Mike Egerton/PA)

All eyes will once again be on Stokes after his stunning performance in Yorkshire and Australia will undoubtedly regard him as the key wicket. Stokes is England’s top run-scorer in the series with 353 (albeit 318 behind Smith) while Lyon, as Australia’s frontline spinner, can expect to bowl a lot of overs as the seamers rotate. Lyon will also want to see Australia home and banish the memory of his costly fluffed run out in the third Test.

Send-off

Australia batsman Marnus Labuschagne will certainly hope his side have the last laugh on England by winning after he was given a cheeky send-off by Stuart Broad on Saturday. Labuschagne fell lbw to Jofra Archer following an unsuccessful review and appeared to have something to say on his departure. Broad cheerily waved him off.

Broad’s bunny

Broad appears to have the wood on Warner
Broad appears to have the wood on Warner (Mike Egerton/PA)

Broad can now only influence matters in this game with the bat. England will hope he can bring some of the stardust he has shown with the ball with him to the crease. Broad has enjoyed a fine series, particularly when bowling to David Warner, who may now qualify as his ‘bunny’. Broad’s removal of Warner on Saturday was the sixth time he has claimed his wicket in 93 balls in eight innings.

Smith points the way

After scoring 293 runs in the match, Smith has a pretty good idea of how the wicket may play on the final day. “I think it will be difficult, particularly while the ball is hard,” he said. “It is just about relaxing and going out and enjoying it, and hopefully executing our skills well enough to bowl England out.”

What’s the weather for day five?

The final day of the match should be played out in good weather, according to forecasters at the Met Office, with clear skies and sunshine in the morning and sunny intervals in the afternoon. The temperature will reach a high of 16C.

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