Archer v Smith and the other key clashes which could decide the fourth Test
Steve Smith returns to the Australia team at Old Trafford after being ruled out of the third Test because of concussion.
England and Australia resume their Ashes battle at Old Trafford this week with the series level after the hosts’ remarkable one-wicket win at Headingley.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the key head-to-head battles in the fourth Test.
Jofra Archer v Steve Smith
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) August 28, 2019
Australia’s star batsman is set to return from concussion, having successfully come through a three-day tour match against Derbyshire last week.
It was Archer’s bouncer which struck the fearsome blow at Lord’s that left Smith flat on the ground, with the delayed onset of concussion symptoms forcing him to miss the third Test at Headingley.
The former captain averages 126 in the series after scores of 144, 142 and 92, while Archer’s bowling average of 13.53 is the best on either team and he took six for 45 in the first innings in Leeds.
The resumption of the pair’s battle royal will go a long way to shaping the outcome of the match and the series.
Ben Stokes v Nathan Lyon
While Smith’s twin hundreds were key to Australia’s opening win at Edgbaston, it was Stokes’ remarkable innings at Headingley which got England back on level terms.
The all-rounder hammered 135 not out as he replicated his World Cup final heroics, putting on 76 with last man Jack Leach who scored just one.
Half of Stokes’ eight sixes came off Lyon – although, as well as missing the chance to run out Leach, the Australia spinner also had Stokes lbw but was out of reviews when umpire Joel Wilson failed to raise his finger.
Lyon, who thrives against left-handed batsmen, caused early trouble for Stokes in his century at Lord’s in the second Test too and will need to bounce back from his Headingley humbling to boost Australia’s chances of retaining the urn in Manchester.
Jason Roy v Josh Hazlewood
Roy drops down the batting order after a troubled start as a Test opener, where he has been dismissed early twice in as many matches by Australia paceman Hazlewood.
The Surrey batsman lasted just three balls in the first innings at Lord’s before nicking a good outswinger to wicketkeeper Tim Paine and, having played out a maiden from Hazlewood first up at Headingley, then thumped him for four but nicked to slip three balls later to spark England’s first-innings collapse to 67 all out.
Pat Cummins has also dismissed Roy twice in three Tests, and England must hope their top-order reshuffle helps protect their one-day talisman.