4th Ashes Test Preview: Steve Smith Back As Australia Look To Regain Lead Against Energised England
England pulled off a sensational one-wicket win in the Headingley Test, pulling the series back to 1-1 with everything to play for.
Steve Smith has returned to rescue Australia from a shock defeat
Australia lost the third Test by one wicket to England
They surrendered a 1-0 lead in 5-match series in the absence of Smith
Steve Smith has returned to rescue Australia from a shock defeat to England in the third Ashes Test at Headingley last week, for the fourth Test beginning on Wednesday in Manchester. Holders Australia lost the third Test by one wicket and surrendered a 1-0 lead in the five-match series in the absence of Steve Smith, who was rested for delayed concussion after being hit by a Jofra Archer bouncer in the second Ashes Test at Lord's. The Ashes 2019 is now level at 1-1 with both the teams having an equal chance to seal the trophy in England.
Australia coach Justin Langer said his Ashes-holders would now take heart from an incident in boxer Muhammad Ali's childhood.
"He got his bike stolen and that was the fire he needed to become the greatest boxer of all time," said Langer.
"We felt a bit like we got the Ashes stolen the other day. They won that Test match, so we felt a bit like it'd been stolen from us.
"Now we've got to work out what we're going to do and use that as fire. We're not going to feel sorry for ourselves and let it slip," added Langer, aiming to oversee Australia's first Ashes series win in England for 18 years.
Australia will make at least one change, with star batsman Smith returning from the concussion he suffered after being hit by a 92mph Archer bouncer that ruled him out of the third Test.
Smith, in his first Test series since completing a 12-month ball-tampering ban, scored 144 and 142 in Australia's 251-run win in the opener at Edgbaston before making 92 in the drawn second Test at Lord's.
Marnus Labuschagne, Smith's concussion substitute at Lord's, has made three successive Test fifties since his unexpected promotion into the side and retains his place with Usman Khawaja being dropped to make way for Smith's return.
Fast bowler Mitchell Starc will hope to be selected for his first Test of this Ashes on what is set to be the quickest pitch of the series, a surface that should also suit Nathan Lyon as the off-spinner tries to recover from fumbling what would have been a match-winning run out in Leeds.
Langer, hit several times on the head during his career as an Australia opening batsman, was confident Smith could overcome any doubts he may have felt after being felled by Archer.
Meanwhile England paceman Stuart Broad, the hosts' leading bowler this series with 14 wickets at 25.35, was eager to see Smith face Archer again.
"I'm sure when Steve comes in Jofra will be in (England captain) Joe Root's ear wanting the ball," Broad said.
"I might be stood at mid-on but I'll be excited when Jofra asks for that ball."
England could field the same XI that played at Headingley after James Anderson, their all-time leading wicket-taker, was ruled out of the last two Tests with the calf injury that means his four overs in the first innings at Edgbaston will be the only ones he bowls this series.
Rather than change top-order personnel, England's response to being dismissed for just 67 in their first innings at Headingley has been to have World Cup-winner Jason Roy, struggling as a Test opener, and number four Joe Denly swap positions.
(With AFP inputs)