Jonny Bairstow was full of pride at his performance on day three of the fourth Ashes Test after his 103 not-out kept England fighting.

Joe Root's team have already lost any chance of regaining the urn, having suffered defeat in the opening three Tests, and they looked down and out at 36-4 at the Sydney Cricket Ground early in Friday's play.

However, Ben Stokes (66) and Bairstow put on a fifth-wicket stand of 128 to guide the tourists to 164.

Stokes' battling innings, in which he was struggling with an apparent side strain, came to an end when he misjudged a Nathan Lyon delivery and was trapped lbw, and England looked in danger of failing to avoid the follow-on when Jos Buttler got out cheaply for a duck.

Yet Bairstow and Mark Wood (39) fought back, with the latter hitting three sixes during an entertaining 41-ball spell that was ended by Pat Cummins.

Bairstow stayed at the crease, though, and cut Australia's captain for four to surpass 100 in the final over of the day, with England closing on 258-7, 158 runs behind.

It was Bairstow's seventh Test century, and his first since 2018, while no England player had scored an Ashes 100 in Australia since Alistair Cook back in 2017, with England's then captain scoring 244 on that occasion.

Bairstow was not selected for the first two Tests but returned to the fold in Melbourne, scoring 35 in the first innings and five in the second.

The 32-year-old, who made his Test debut in May 2012, also moved onto 1,033 runs scored against Australia.

Bairstow was clearly overjoyed when he celebrated his century. It was a poignant moment, with this Test having started on the 24th anniversary of the death of his father David, himself a former England wicketkeeper.

"Extremely proud, really, really proud. You've known me for long enough and how much that means," Bairstow told BT Sport. "Unbelievable, I was ecstatic, extremely proud, there's a lot of hard work gone into that one.

"It's been tough, you've got to dig deep, you really have. People mention the scheduling, how much red-ball cricket people are playing leading into massive series like this, it's not just this series, it's the India series, the India series before that when we were over there.

"You've got to delve very deep, on things you've worked hard at over a number of years. 

"Tried not to be too rigid. You can look at technique a lot. Some things work but other times you've got to keep being natural about the way you're moving or you become a bit clunky and too rigid. That's what I feel sometimes got to, trying to be something potentially that I'm not.

"My strength is putting pressure back on the bowlers, running between the wickets, trying to get them off the length to then give me a different ball. I wasn't necessarily doing that, but that also comes with spending time out in the middle consistently."

 

Bairstow took a nasty blow to his thumb from a rapid Cummins delivery just after Stokes' dismissal, but fought through the pain barrier.

"Slightly sore, it's starting to get a bit sorer now we've come off the field," he said. "I was hurting! 

"You're playing in a New Year's Test match in Sydney, on the Pink Day, it's going to take a heck of a lot to get you off the field. You've still got a job to do. Yes it's sore, it will be sore, but you're playing cricket for England and I'm very proud to do that."

An England victory still looks incredibly unlikely but, with rain possibly in store over the coming days, a draw is on the cards as the tourists aim to avoid a 5-0 whitewash.

"We've got two days to scrap and scrap hard," Bairstow added.

"We had a challenge this morning to still be batting at the end of the day. They've got a new ball coming, so tomorrow is about scrapping hard again. We got to the follow-on and past that, let's see how close we can get."

Jonny Bairstow made a brilliant century as England fought back on day three of the fourth Ashes Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Bairstow (103) scored his seventh Test century, and his first since 2018, to stave Australia off after the hosts had reduced England to 36-4 in the morning session.

Ben Stokes, who battled on with a side strain, and Bairstow - who was hit on the thumb by a blistering Pat Cummins delivery - combined for a superb partnership of 128 to steady the ship for the tourists, who reached stumps on 258-7, trailing by 158 runs.

The start was delayed by rain on Friday, but having finished day two on 13-0, Joe Root's side were soon wishing for the weather to close in again.

Haseeb Hameed was dropped by Alex Carey in the third over, but England's opener was gone soon after, Mitchell Starc bowling him for only six.

England then lost Zak Crawley (18), Root (0) and Dawid Malan (3) without scoring a single run.

Cummins missed a caught-and-bowled chance to dismiss Stokes on nine, and the all-rounder subsequently survived a bizarre incident when Cameron Green hit the stumps but the bails did not fall off. Stokes was given out leg before wicket, but an instant review saved him.

Stokes went on to make 66 before he misjudged a delivery from Nathan Lyon and was trapped lbw, with Bairstow then getting clattered on the hand by Cummins off the next ball.

Jos Buttler went for a duck and another batting collapse seemed on the cards, but Bairstow and Mark Wood (39) took the game back to Australia, the paceman hitting three sixes in an entertaining knock, which came to an end when he gloved Cummins onto his helmet and into the hands of Lyon.

Bairstow continued to defy Australia and cut Cummins for four to reach three figures in the final over of the day.

 

Bairstow back with a bang

Having not been selected in the opening two Tests, Bairstow produced a stunning century in the circumstances - the first scored by an England player in a miserable series for the tourists.

Given Buttler's lack of form, Bairstow could find himself donning the gloves again in the fifith Test. England will be hoping the Yorkshireman can frustrate Australia further on Saturday and the weather could also thwart Cummins' side in their pursuit of a whitewash.

Bairstow and Stokes' partnership was only the second time a visiting duo have added 100 plus runs for the fifth wicket in Australia after their team were four down for fewer than 50.

Boland, Stokes suffer

Scott Boland (2-25) was the pick of Australia's bowlers, but the 32-year-old - who made a dream debut in Melbourne - was forced off with a side injury.

The quick went for a scan and was cleared to bowl in the nets and subsequently return for the evening session, so Australia will be hoping he is fit to fire on day four.

Stokes, meanwhile, may not be so lucky, as he was grimacing throughout his battling innings.

Stuart Broad believes he has "a lot to offer" the England Test side after he claimed a five-wicket haul against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday.

Broad took 5-101 on day two of the fourth Ashes Test at the SCG, where Australia declared on 416-8 and the tourists were 13 without loss at stumps.

Paceman Broad was surprisingly left out for England's defeat in the first match of the series at the Gabba before also being omitted for another heavy loss at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The 35-year-old expressed his frustration at only being selected for the day-night contest at the Adelaide Oval before being restored to the team in Sydney this week.

Broad let his undoubted ability with the ball do the talking by taking five wickets in a Test innings for the 19th time and an eight in the Ashes.

The vastly experienced quick is confident there is more to come.

"I still feel like I have a lot to offer this team," he told BT Sport.

"Whether that is playing week in, week out like I did when I was 26, 27, maybe not. But I'm old and experienced enough to know how to bowl on different pitches and how to get myself ready and right when the chances come.

"I think when you haven't been playing, particularly at 35 years old, you realise how special it is. I've had points in my career where I've felt like I've always been playing.

"That's not happened in 2021 and it's my job to make that happen in 2022."

Usman Khawaja borrowed a celebration from NBA superstar LeBron James as he marked his return to Australia's Test team with a sublime century against England.

The left-hander made a magnificent 137 in Australia's 416-8 declared on day two, leaving the tourists staring at a major challenge to avoid another Ashes defeat at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Khawaja reached his second Ashes hundred after being given a life on 28 when an edge off Jack Leach grazed Jos Buttler and was dropped by England skipper Joe Root at first slip.

He celebrated with a high-knees strut and thumped his chest, copying Los Angeles Lakers star James' famous 'silencer'.

Khawaja had not featured in a Test for Australia since the dramatic Headingley loss to England in 2019, when Ben Stokes' sensational century drove the hosts to victory, so for the 35-year-old this was a moment to savour.

"It's the silencer - you probably shouldn't do it to a home crowd," said a cheery Khawaja after England closed on 13-0.

"I was so excited, everything just came up to me. I love LeBron James, so it just felt right.

"I do it mucking around with the boys all the time and if I'm playing basketball and hit a few good shots I do it, so I've had a bit of practice at it, so it just happens.

"I love Test cricket. Sometimes it feels a bit traditional for my liking, so I like to give it a bit of spark."

Australia lead 3-0 so have already retained the urn, and now they are pushing for a clean sweep of the five-match series.

Khawaja said of his near seven-hour innings: "It's pretty sweet. I wasn't expecting it. Hundreds don't come every day.

"It's a pretty tough wicket. I'm just trying to bat. I'm just trying to grind away. It's a lot of fun. I'm a bit tired, a bit lost for words. It's pretty special."

Khawaja said he had been "in a very good spot the last couple of years", despite being absent from the Australia team.

He has become a father, with his wife and daughter in the SCG crowd on Thursday, and has enjoyed his cricket despite dropping out of the Test side.

This might be a one-off recall, with Khawaja included due to Travis Head returning a positive COVID-19 test result.

"I said earlier, I've got nothing to prove to anyone," Khawaja said on beIN Sports.

"I love playing cricket, whether it's grade cricket down at my local club Valleys [Valley District], or playing for Queensland. I'm just really enjoying the game

"Getting selected in the Australian squad and then playing this game, they're all bonuses for me now, so I'm just really enjoying my life and cricket.

"Every time I go out to play for Australia it's special, and then when you score a hundred on top of that, I guess the only way to make it better is if we get a victory here."

Usman Khawaja scored his ninth Test century after being recalled by Australia for the first time in more than two years as the hosts took control against England in the fourth Ashes Test.

Australia declared at 416-8 late in the final session on day two at the SCG, in an innings headlined by Khawaja's 137, where he batted for almost seven hours and hit 13 boundaries.

Khawaja reached his second Ashes hundred after being given a life on 28 when an edge off Jack Leach grazed Jos Buttler and was dropped by Joe Root at first slip.

England's openers survived five overs late in the day to be 13-0 at stumps, with Zak Crawley given a reprieve for a no-ball after being caught at first slip by David Warner off Mitchell Starc for a duck.

Australia, though, took a major advantage in the Sydney Test having resumed at 126-3 after a rain-interrupted opening day, with Steve Smith and Khawaja putting together a 115-run fourth-wicket stand.

Stuart Broad was the pick of the English attack, claiming the first five-wicket haul for the visitors this series with figures of 5-101.

England's hopes of making inroads into the Australian batting line-up were not helped by Ben Stokes limping off with left side tightness. He later returned to field but did not bowl.

Broad had Smith caught by Buttler for 67 shortly after taking the new ball, representing the ninth time the English paceman has dismissed the Australian vice-captain at Test level.

The headband-wearing 35-year-old paceman also claimed the wickets of Cameron Green (5), Pat Cummins (24) and Khawaja, who played on to a leg-cutter.

Starc got lucky with a series of reviews in his batting cameo with 34 not out before Australia declared, getting five overs late at the tourists who got through with Crawley and Haseeb Hameed at the crease.

Broad justifies his recall

Broad's five-wicket haul was his sixth against Australia and a 19th across his decorated career, where he has taken 531 Test dismissals.

The 35-year-old right-arm paceman had been left out for two Tests earlier in this series and justified his recall emphatically.

Khawaja stars upon return

Khawaja had not played for Australia at Test level since August 2019 in the Ashes but managed his second century against England, having earned a recall after back-to-back hundreds for Queensland in the Sheffield Shield. Khawaja reached triple figures shortly prior to tea.

Ben Stokes left the field during the second day of the fourth Ashes Test with "left side tightness".

Another difficult session for the tourists, who have already lost the series after Australia won the first three matches, saw the hosts move to 209-3 as Steve Smith and Usman Khawaja built a partnership of 92.

Khawaja was dropped by Joe Root as England went wicket-less in the first session at the Sydney Cricket Ground, but a more worrying sight came when Stokes went off clutching his side after sending down a series of short balls.

And England subsequently released an update during lunch that confirmed he was being treated for left side tightness and "would be assessed over the next hour".

Stokes, who returned to the side for the series after taking a break to protect his mental well-being, has scored 101 runs with the bat at an average of 16.83. With the ball, the all-rounder has taken four wickets.

 

Ben Stokes left the field during the second day of the fourth Ashes Test with "left side tightness".

Another difficult session for the tourists, who have already lost the series after Australia won the first three matches, saw the hosts move to 209-3 as Steve Smith and Usman Khawaja built a partnership of 92.

Khawaja was dropped by Joe Root as England went wicket-less in the first session at the Sydney Cricket Ground, but a more worrying sight came when Stokes went off clutching his side after sending down a series of short balls.

And England subsequently released an update during lunch that confirmed he was being treated for left side tightness and "would be assessed over the next hour".

Stokes, who returned to the side for the series after taking a break to protect his mental well-being, has scored 101 runs with the bat at an average of 16.83. With the ball, the all-rounder has taken four wickets.

 

England struck twice late on a rain-affected opening day of the fourth Ashes Test at the SCG to get back into the contest on Wednesday.

Australia finished the first day on 126-3 with Steve Smith (6 not out) and Marnus Labuschagne (4 not out) at the crease after captain Pat Cummins won the delayed coin toss and elected to bat.

The hosts, who lead the series 3-0, had been firmly in control at 111-1 in the final session before veteran Jimmy Anderson (24-1 from 13 overs) and Mark Wood (31-1 from 10 overs) struck to dismiss opener Marcus Harris (38) and Test number one batsman Labuschagne (28) respectively.

Stuart Broad, back in the England side at the expense of Ollie Robinson, claimed the scalp of opener David Warner for 30 caught by Zak Crawley.

The opening session had been stop-start with rain delays seeing Australia go into lunch at 30-0, before adding another 26 runs until Broad found an edge from regular scalp Warner.

Rain fell shortly after Warner's dismissal leading to tea being taken after only 21.4 overs of play, but England got a crucial double strike in the final session before the weather intervened again.

Harris had been patient across more than three hours at the crease until Anderson drew an edge which Joe Root claimed at second slip.

England skipper Root introduced Mark Wood into the attack in the next over and dismissed Labuschagne caught behind by Jos Buttler.

Broad has the wood on Warner

Broad resumed his domination of Warner, dismissing him for the 13th time in Test cricket when he struck in the second session.

The right-arm fast bowler dismissed Warner seven times in the space of 104 balls during the 2019 Ashes in England, yet has been left out for two Tests in this series.

Sydney's rain woes

Only 46.5 overs were bowled on the first day at the SCG, which has been plagued by rain at recent Test matches at the venue.

In fact, Sydney has lost 26 days of Test cricket due to rain since 1877, which is significantly the most of any Australia venue and, while there was play, it was a frustrating opening day.

England have brought "caged tiger" Stuart Broad back into their team for the fourth Test against Australia in Sydney, after the veteran paceman revealed his frustration at being marginalised.

The 35-year-old, who has 526 Test wickets, has played in just one match during this series so far, with Australia's Steve Smith admitting that has surprised the hosts.

Broad told the Mail on Sunday that it had been "a very disappointing trip, one that has not met my personal expectations", but now he gets another chance to impress, albeit with the Ashes already lost.

Australia have steamrollered England in the opening three Tests, winning by nine wickets, then 275 runs, and last time out by an innings and 14 runs to clinch series victory.

Broad comes in at the SCG for Ollie Robinson, England's leading wicket-taker in the series so far. Like Chris Woakes, Robinson has been troubled by a shoulder problem, meaning both sit out this week's game.

England's stand-in head coach Graham Thorpe said: "We felt like it was too much of a risk to go in with a couple of lads who are carrying niggles. Therefore, it was right to bring Stuart back in.

"I hope I've got a couple of caged tigers coming into this match, Ben Stokes being one of them. Stuart is another.

"Getting the guys into the right frame of mind is important. I think they'll want to put in a performance for themselves and for the team. That's been our focus over the last few days.

"They'll want to do well. It's a wonderful cricket ground to play at. To have that fight and competitiveness, it's going to be very important this week."

Australia retain Scott Boland after his 6-7 second-innings return in Melbourne, where the hosts retained the urn, while Usman Khawaja replaces Travis Head in the middle order.

Head, like England head coach Chris Silverwood, is sidelined this week after a positive COVID-19 result.

With Josh Hazlewood short of full fitness, Australia have again put their trust in Boland, the 32-year-old Victorian whose Test debut went like a dream last time out.

Australia captain Pat Cummins said: "It's no secret that if Joshy Hazlewood was available then he was going to play. He's been just a brilliant bowler for us for a long period of time.

"We gave Josh every chance we could, just felt like he couldn't bowl at full tilt yesterday. We're still hoping he'll be right for [the fifth Test in] Hobart."

Cummins is pleased there is an opportunity to hand Boland a second cap, after speculation he could have become a one-Test wonder.

"It would have been a real shame to see Scotty not play this week after his efforts last week. I spent about five years sitting on one Test and I hated when people talked about it because I felt like I hadn't proven anything," Cummins said.

"He's bowling as well as he ever has, it's great that he can keep going from last week."


Fourth Test teams:

Australia: Marcus Harris, David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Usman Khawaja, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins (c), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland.

England: Haseeb Hameed, Zak Crawley, Dawid Malan, Joe Root (c), Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Mark Wood, Jack Leach, Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson.

Usman Khawaja is back in the Australia team for the fourth Ashes Test after being named as Travis Head's replacement.

Head misses out in the middle order after testing positive for COVID-19, giving Khawaja the opportunity to make his return to Test cricket with his country.

Batsman Khawaja last played back in August 2019, featuring for Australia at Headingley as England won the third Test of that Ashes series.

He had been named in the squad for the first two Tests of this series last month but did not see action in either Brisbane nor Adelaide.

Official #Ashes Update | Pat Cummins has confirmed one change to the Australian XI for the fourth Vodafone Ashes Test in Sydney.

Batter Usman Khawaja will replace Travis Head   pic.twitter.com/dR0EbWydTG

— Cricket Australia (@CricketAus) January 3, 2022

Khawaja is the only change to the team that secured Australia the Ashes, with their victory in Melbourne giving the hosts an unassailable 3-0 lead.

That means fast bowler Scott Boland retains his place in the side after a stunning Test debut in Melbourne.

He took 6-7 in the second innings as Boland laid waste to England's chances, though he was not a guaranteed pick for this week's action.

However, Josh Hazlewood is still unavailable to due the side strain he suffered in the first Test, giving Boland another opportunity to impress.

Joe Root insists there is still plenty to play for as far as England are concerned, despite having already lost the Ashes series to Australia after a dire first three Tests.

A chastening innings defeat in the third Test at the MCG gave the hosts an unassailable 3-0 lead, with England now just playing for pride in the final two, starting with the fourth Test at the SCG in Sydney this week.

"You can dwell on what's happened so far, or we can look at the opportunities that present themselves in the immediate future," Root said. "That can be the making of some sides and the start of something, that's the approach we'll have to take."

The England captain – who received the backing of Ben Stokes on Monday – also insisted he will continue focusing on the job at hand as he dismissed topics surrounding his future.

"I need to make sure that my full focus is on these two games," he added. "First and foremost, I need to try to get the best out of the group, make sure we put in those performances we keep banging on about out there on the field.

"We'll worry about the captaincy at the end of the series. I've got two big games here to manage well."

Root will lead England as captain in a Test for the 60th time, overtaking the record of 59 set by his predecessor Alastair Cook.

England's preparation has been far from ideal, with four coaches – including Chris Silverwood – in isolation, with assistant coach Graham Thorpe set to lead in Silverwood's absence.

The fourth Test will be the Pink Test at the SCG, the traditional event to raise funds for the Jane McGrath Foundation, the charity co-founded by former Australia cricketer Glenn McGrath following his wife's breast cancer diagnosis in 2005.

The ex-bowler's attendance is in doubt, however, after he tested positive for coronavirus on Sunday.

England to decide whether to stick or twist

The tourists made some notable changes for the third Test that it would be fair to say did not have the desired effect, but whether they change things back is far from certain.

Rory Burns was dropped after scoring just 51 runs in four innings across the first two Tests at an average of 12.75, but fellow opener Haseeb Hameed has only managed 65 in six innings at an average of 10.83.

Zak Crawley replaced Burns, making just 17 runs in Melbourne, but for a player who has played so little cricket recently it might be considered more beneficial in the long-term to give him another outing.

Chris Woakes was also left out of the third Test after an expensive return of 149-1 with the ball in Adelaide, but the all-rounder could be brought back for his batting as his average of 26.25 is the third best England have in this series.

Stuart Broad could come back in having been a surprising omission for the first and third Tests, as referenced by Steve Smith in the lead up to the clash in Sydney.

Only two players in English history can better Broad's career record of 120 Test wickets against Australia.

 

Options not a problem for Aussies

While England are desperately looking for players to put together a competitive side, Australia are wrestling with the conundrum of whether to leave out a bowler who took 6-7 in the second innings of the last Test.

Scott Boland had a Test debut to remember in his home-ground of the MCG, taking England wickets in the second innings with astonishing regularity, but with Josh Hazlewood possibly being available again after injury, Boland could be the one to make way.

Travis Head will miss out after testing positive for COVID-19 and is likely to be replaced by Usman Khawaja. Head has somewhat surprisingly been the hosts' top batsman in the series so far, scoring 248 runs in four innings at an average of 62.00.

There have been some calls for spinner Mitchell Swepson to be given a game in preparation for Australia's tours of Pakistan and Sri Lanka later this year, but the SCG has not always been a kind pitch for spin.

England captain Joe Root urged his team to respond in "disjointed and challenging circumstances" ahead of the fourth Ashes Test in Sydney.

The tourists have already succumbed to yet another series loss Down Under before a ball has even been bowled in the penultimate Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground, having been outclassed in Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne.

England's task has further mounted heading into the next Test, which starts on Tuesday, with head coach Chris Silverwood leading a list of absentees from the backroom staff due to COVID-19 issues.

Alongside the coaching shortage, some local net bowlers for the England side have also been withdrawn due to coronavirus complications, but Root insisted the seeming crisis is an opportunity for his team to unite.

"It has made things disjointed and challenging but it is a chance to come together," Root told BBC Sport.

"We're trying to manage it as best we can. In terms of practice, it's obviously going to look very different.

"We've all just got to be good human beings, good professionals, help each other out where we can and try and get the best possible prep going into these last two games.

"Whether it be putting pride back into the badge, whether it be making sure that we get Test Championship points, [and] for individuals making sure that they're pushing hard to cement their spots in the team. There's a huge amount to play for this group of players.

"We've got to stay tight, we've got to stay together. And we've got to put in a performance on one of the great Test venues in world cricket."

 

Root enjoyed an outstanding 2021 on the personal front, finishing with 1,708 runs at an average of 61 – the third-best haul in a calendar year, only behind Vivian Richards (1,710 in 1976) and Mohammad Yousuf (1,788 in 2006). 

Indeed, Root scored 26 per cent of all of England's runs last year – the highest proportion of any player for their respective teams in 2021 – but questions have been raised over the 31-year-old's captaincy credentials.

Nevertheless, Root – who received the backing of Ben Stokes earlier on Monday – ensures he will continue focusing on the job ahead as he dismissed topics surrounding his future.

"I need to make sure that my full focus is on these two games," he added. "First and foremost, I need to try to get the best out of the group, make sure we put in those performances we keep banging on about out there on the field.

"We'll worry about the captaincy at the end of the series. I've got two big games here to manage well."

Australia vice-captain Steve Smith has claimed to be "surprised" at the lack of action afforded to England fast bowler Stuart Broad during the visitors' dire Ashes campaign.

Broad was dropped for the emphatic defeat in Melbourne on Boxing Day that saw Australia retain the urn after just three matches of a one-sided series.

Only two players in English history can better Broad's career record of 120 Test wickets against Australia, and the 35-year-old vented his frustration at his recent lack of influence last weekend, also casting doubt over his Test cricket future.

England's selections have faced fierce scrutiny after Australia racked up an unassailable 3-0 lead, with all-rounder Ben Stokes publicly denying he has any desire to succeed the under-pressure Joe Root as captain.

Speaking at a news conference ahead of the fourth Test in Sydney, Smith said of Broad's absence: "We have been surprised. There have probably been two wickets that would have suited him well [in the first and third Tests, in Brisbane and Melbourne].

"He bowled well in Adelaide, and he's always been a good contest for me. He's got me out a few times, I've scored runs off him. I think it's been a decent battle.

"He and Jimmy [Anderson] are two world-class performers, they have been for a long time. Maybe we'll see them out here together this week, I'm not sure."

Smith, who has averaged 31.75 across the series, has turned his attention to putting in a strong individual performance in the penultimate test, as the hosts target a whitewash victory.

"It's been a little while since I've scored a hundred, but I got close in Adelaide," Smith said.

Smith's 93 runs in Adelaide's second Test was his highest score of the series to date, and the 32-year-old is looking to roll back the clock after averaging over 100 in each of the past two Ashes series, earning a reputation as England's tormentor. 

"We've played on some pretty bowler-friendly wickets in the first three Tests, and it's been tough to get into a rhythm," he noted.

"But hopefully this week I can spend a lot of time out there, get a big one and help us continue to have success."

All-rounder Ben Stokes has no desire to take over as England captain as pressure mounts on Joe Root in light of the side's 3-0 Ashes deficit.

Root replaced Alastair Cook as England's full-time Test captain in early 2017 but has come under scrutiny with the side losing the Ashes in lopsided fashion.

The 31-year-old batsman was also in charge when England lost 4-0 to Ashes in 2017-18 and failed to win back the urn on home soil in 2019 with a 2-2 series draw.

Stokes looms as Root's obvious replacement as the side's vice-captain and arguably the only lock in England's best XI but he dismissed the role was on his radar.

"I've never really had an ambition to be a captain," Stokes said. "Captaincy is more than about setting fields, picking the team, making decisions out there in the middle.

"A captain is someone you want to go out and play for. Joe Root is someone I always want to play for.

"It's totally Joe's decision. He shouldn't be forced into doing it. I'm sure Cooky felt the same way. He did it for so long and when he knew his time was up, his time was up. Those discussions haven't entered anywhere near Joe yet.

"I don't sense that at all with Joe. He's brought this team a long way. He's done some great things. Obviously this series hasn't gone too well, not from a captaincy point of view, but from a team and results point of view."

Stokes, who has only managed 101 runs at 16.83 and four wickets at 62.25 this series, threw his support behind under-fire coach Chris Silverwood.

"Unfortunately, the captain and coach bear the scrutiny for [results], but there are 10 other guys out there in the field," he said.

"That's [the media's] job, to say, 'Should people step down?' At the end of the day, the most important people's opinions are those guys in the dressing room and they've got our thorough support.

"Chris Silverwood, exactly the same. He's a real players' coach. He stands up for you as individuals and players as well.

"All the hype in the media recently about their futures, it's your job to write that, but they know full well they have the support of everyone in there and that's all that matters."

The fourth Ashes Test starts in Sydney on Wednesday.

Stuart Broad says his biggest frustration over England's Ashes failure is the feeling that he has "not really done anything" in Australia.

Australia retained the urn less than halfway through the series when they hammered England by an innings and 14 runs in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.

Broad was dropped in Melbourne, having taken two wickets in an emphatic 275-run thrashing at the Adelaide Oval after he and James Anderson were surprisingly omitted for the nine-wicket defeat in the first match of the series at the Gabba.

The 35-year-old has expressed his frustration over being omitted twice as the wounded tourists prepare for the fourth Test at the SCG, which starts on Wednesday.

"As a wobble-seam bowler, I feel as though I missed out on two of the best wobble-seam pitches in Australia," Broad wrote in the Mail on Sunday.

"Only playing once has made this a very disappointing trip, one that has not met my personal expectations.

"The biggest frustration is losing the Ashes, being 3-0 down and feeling like I've not really done anything. Not being able, as an experienced player, to influence a series while it's live is tough.

"But that is top-flight sport, and I am not the only one who will feel this way. Ollie Pope and Jonny Bairstow, guys who have played one or two games will feel the same, and it's part and parcel of touring."

Broad says he still has the desire to play for his country in the longest format despite such a painful tour.

He added: "Has it affected my hunger to play Test cricket? No. Looking at things pragmatically, I would argue that I won't get a better chance to take wickets than at Brisbane and Melbourne. But I must be ready for my next opportunity, whether that be in Sydney, Hobart or beyond.

"There is a long time between now and the tour of the Caribbean in March and I have never been one to make emotional decisions. So I'm not going to make any spur of the moment calls on my future.

"I feel fit, I've come back from the calf injury feeling strong and I'm taking wickets in the nets. That's all I can do given the lack of tour games and the tight schedule."

England have spent long periods in bio-secure bubbles during the coronavirus pandemic and Broad says the players are feeling the impact of restrictions imposed on them.

He continued. "This tour has taken its toll on all of us. Without sounding like making excuses, we may be at the end of our mental tether with Covid.

"We are the only team that has played solid international cricket throughout the pandemic and our multi-format guys had already done 50 days in a bubble before they turned up here.

"We spent day two of the Boxing Day Test match testing for Covid and having guys moving out of their hotel rooms, away from their families, so they were no longer classed as close contacts.

"When you are faffing about with external stuff like that, it drags your focus away from where it needs to be."

Under-pressure England head coach Chris Silverwood will be absent for the fourth Test in Sydney, having tested positive for coronavirus while he was already in isolation due to what was a seventh positive COVID-19 case in the touring party. 

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