Australia hold a perfect Ashes day-night record and England will have to put up another huge fight to prevent them from ending the series with a win in the historic Test in Hobart.

The tourists avoided a whitewash when they batted out a draw on a tense final day at the Sydney Cricket Ground last week, James Anderson and Stuart Broad preventing Australia from taking the one wicket they needed to go 4-0 up.

They will start a first-ever Ashes Test in Hobart on Friday with Pat Cummins' side strong favourites to make it three Test wins out of three over England under the lights.

The series finale was due to be staged in Perth, but was moved due to Western Australia's border restrictions.

England have not won a Test in Australia since they came out on top at the SCG 11 years ago and they have never looked like ending that drought during this one-sided series.

Blundstone Arena has been a happy hunting ground for Australia, the hosts nine out of 13 Tests in Hobart – that 69 per cent win rate being their best at any home ground where they face played more than twice in the longest format.

A draw stopped the rot for the tourists, but they are winless in seven away Tests. It is their longest run without a victory on their travels since a 13-match barren spell from October 2016 to March 2018.

Both sides face selection dilemmas for what Australia hope will be their 150th Test victory over their fierce rivals. Their next best winning record is against West Indies (58 victories).

England, meanwhile, will simply be hoping for a win to at least take some positives from what has been a miserable tour. However, in both day-night meetings between these sides to dates, Australia have triumphed by 120 runs (in December 2017 and December 2021).

Head return leaves Harris vulnerable

Usman Khawaja could not have wished to make a bigger impact after getting the nod at the SCG, scoring a century in both innings of his first Test since August 2019.

Khawaja became the first player to plunder a ton in each innings of an SCG Test since former Australia captain Ricky Ponting 

The experienced left-hander replaced Travis Head, who missed out after testing positive for coronavirus.

Head is fit for the fifth Test and averages 62 in the series, so he is set to come back into the side. Khawaja believed he was unlikely to retain his place despite his brilliance in Sydney, though there is a possibility the 35-year-old could find himself opening, with Marcus Harris potentially making way. 

Josh Hazlewood is still unavailable due to a side injury, while Mitchell Starc says he does not need a rest and that is no surprise given his outstanding record in day-night Tests.

Billings set for Test bow

Sam Billings is poised to make his Test debut for England after Jos Buttler flew home with a broken finger.

Billings drove over 500 miles to answer an England SOS call, having been in Queensland playing for Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League.

Ben Stokes (side) and Jonny Bairstow (thumb) batted through the pain barrier in Sydney and will be checked on, with the vice-captain possibly playing only as a batter.

Rory Burns could be recalled in place of a struggling Haseeb Hameed, while Ollie Robinson will be hoping to come back into the team and head coach Chris Silverwood is back with the touring party after missing the fourth Test due to coronavirus.

Captain Joe Root (23) is one away from recording the outright second most hundreds for England in men's Tests, while he has scored 847 runs in the red-ball format in Australia – the second-most by any non-Australian player without having scored a century in the country.

Broad, meanwhile, is only four wickets shy of becoming England's second all-time leading wicket taker against Australia in men's Tests. The paceman is on 125 as it stands, three behind the late Bob Willis (128), with Ian Botham the record holder with 148.

Joe Root plans to give Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow as much time as possible to be fit for a fifth and final Ashes Test in which he challenged England to show "fight" and "desire" from "ball one".

Star all-rounder Stokes has already confirmed in his column for The Mirror that he will not be able to bowl in the day-night Test in Hobart having suffered a "low grade tear" in his side during the gritty draw in Sydney that ensured Australia cannot secure a 5-0 series whitewash.

Jonny Bairstow scored a gutsy first-innings century in that match but was forced to play through the pain barrier after receiving a hefty blow on the thumb from Pat Cummins, an injury that meant he could not regain the gloves from Jos Buttler, who has travelled home with a broken thumb, in the second innings.

Captain Root said both men will be assessed over the next couple of days before a decision is made.

"We've got to just see where they're at over the next couple of days, see what their bodies can handle and then assess from there," Root told a news conference on Wednesday.

"Certainly you can pick Ben as a bat, Jonny too. We have to see where they are at, what their bodies can handle.

"You have to trust the medical advice. Those guys work tirelessly to make sure we are in the best possible position to go and win games and sometimes that is making some difficult calls.

"I think they need to make sure they feel like they're physically in a place where they can get through five days of hard cricket, whatever Australia throw at them, and they're in a position where they can go out and play and firstly, get through the game, but also, most importantly put in a performance as they managed to last week as well. 

"It's alright being fit to play but you've got to be fit to perform and I think that's what we've got to work out."

Stokes made two half centuries in Sydney, while Bairstow made a hard-earned 41 in the second to add to his century with both men proving crucial as England bravely fought for a draw after being heavily beaten in each of the first three Tests.

England were still largely outplayed by the hosts and had to dig deep to avoid defeat. Root wants to see the same kind of guts throughout the duration of the contest in Hobart.

"On the back of three very difficult games where we underperformed, to come back and get something from the last game showed a great amount of character," he added.

"There was an element of relief managing to get through those last few overs but the desire, the fight and the pride that everyone showed on that last day is something we have to harness.

"We have to play like that more frequently through the five days, not just on the last day when everything is on the line, but from ball one. We've proved to ourselves that we can do it, now can we take it a step further?

"Can we make sure we do it in a winning cause rather than just trying to save a Test match? We have something to build on – that’s what we have to take from the last game and into this one."

Australia's Usman Khawaja is expecting to miss out on a place in the side for the final Ashes Test, despite his stunning display at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

England will need to bat out the final day at the SCG on Sunday, and perhaps hope for help from the weather, as they look to seal a draw from the fourth Test and stave off the threat of a 5-0 series whitewash.

The tourists will resume on 30-0, their highest opening partnership of the series so far, after Australia declared on 265-6 in their second innings.

England had kept themselves in the fight thanks to Jonny Bairstow's century on day three, and added 36 runs to their overnight total in the morning session on Saturday.

Their bowlers started well, reducing Australia to 68-3 by the time Khawaja came to the crease, and Steve Smith's dismissal then left the hosts at 86-4.

Yet Khawaja, who marked his recall in place of coronavirus-hit Travis Head with 137 in the first innings, went on to thwart England's bowling attack once more, with his unbeaten 101 leading Australia into a 387-run lead.

Khawaja, who played for New South Wales and currently is a star man for Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League, became the first player to score a hundred in each innings of an SCG Test since former Australia captain Ricky Ponting in January 2006, also against England.

However, the 35-year-old, who had not appeared in an Australia Test team since facing England at Headingley in 2019, does not expect his performance to be enough to secure his spot in the XI for the final match in Hobart.

"At the moment I'm quite resigned to the fact that I'll probably miss out," Khawaja told reporters. "That's just from talking to [head selector] George Bailey about continuity. That's important, I'm not totally against that process.

"I felt like throughout my career, a lot of changes were made and I was on the wrong side of them, so I'm the first to say that I think there needs to be structure and stability. I know how hard it is for a cricketer chopping and changing.

"I actually like the processes that the selectors have been taking throughout the series, so at the moment I'm not really expecting to play the next match, but I'll always be ready.

"Someone else may get COVID or something else happens. Heady batted beautifully in that first Test. I'd be very surprised if too much changed. Scotty Boland was amazing last game, something I'm not sure I'll see again, and he was going to be dropped. It's just the reality. It sucks, but that's just cricket."

While Khawaja is not expecting to play in Tasmania, he may also be joined in watching on by England trio Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Bairstow.

Stokes scored a resilient 66 as he battled through a side strain in England's first innings, while both Buttler and Bairstow did not field on Saturday after sustaining hand injuries.

Ollie Pope filled in at wicketkeeper, taking four catches, while Sam Billings has been called up by England for the Hobart Test, and assistant coach Graham Thorpe does not know if the trio will be fit to return.

"We've obviously got some blows. It's possible [they will miss the final Test] but we will be assessing all of that at the end of the game," he told reporters.

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.

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.

Jhye Richardson took 5-42 as Australia claimed a 275-run victory over England in the second Ashes Test to take a 2-0 series lead.

Australia headed into day five requiring just six wickets to take a 2-0 series lead, Joe Root's side batting only for a draw, given they needed an improbable 386 runs for victory.

Any chance of England escaping without defeat hinged on the shoulders of Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler, after the tourists' captain Joe Root fell to Mitchell Starc (2-43) on the final ball of day four.

Australia flew out of the blocks, Starc removing Ollie Pope – caught at slip by stand-in captain Steve Smith – and Nathan Lyon picking up the crucial wicket of Stokes, who was dismissed for a 77-ball 12.

Buttler and Chris Woakes then lived charmed lives, with the wicketkeeper edging Starc between a motionless Alex Carey and David Warner, while the right-arm all-rounder survived a caught-behind review from Lyon having not scored.

That England partnership lasted 31 overs before Woakes was bowled by Richardson, with Ollie Robinson following soon after as he was caught at slip by Smith off Lyon.

Stuart Broad successfully reviewed a leg before wicket decision to make it into the final session, but Buttler (26) fell in bizarre fashion, stepping on his own stumps after a 207-ball stint at the crease.

Richardson fittingly removed James Anderson, caught in the gully by Cameron Green, as England made it 12 Tests without a win in Australia (D1, L11); their joint-longest run without a victory Down Under (also 12 matches between January 1937 to February 1951).

England head to Melbourne for the Boxing Day Test needing a win to stand a chance of regaining the Ashes, while a draw would ensure Australia retain the urn yet again.

Buttler battles to no avail

Buttler, who before the Ashes insisted he would play with a carefree with "nothing to lose", battled against Australia almost single-handedly on Monday, but even his best efforts were not enough against a relentless Australia.

It was a mixed bag of a Test for the 31-year-old, who took some stunning catches, but also dropped some golden chances behind the stumps.

Contrasting fortunes under the lights

England's rear-guard almost masked multiple selection issues across the Gabba and the Adelaide Oval, but what cannot be denied is Australia's magnificent pink-ball form.

The hosts have won all nine of their day-night Test matches, the most by any side and the only team with a 100 per cent record, while England have lost each of their last four games in the format – last winning against West Indies in August 2017. Richardson was the pick of the bunch for the hosts, sealing his five-for when he dismissed Anderson.

Ben Stokes refused to accept that England are already beaten after another dominant day from Australia in the second Ashes Test.

The hosts, captained by Steve Smith in the absence of Pat Cummins, had ended the opening day on 221-2 and ensured England toiled further on day two as the tourists were stuck in the field for 150 overs overall in Adelaide.

Australia eventually declared on 473-9 on Friday, after Marnus Labuschagne (103) had completed his first Ashes century and Smith had crafted an excellent 93 of his own.

The mammoth total was aided by Alex Carey's 51, while Mitchell Starc (39 not out) and debutant Michael Neser (35) enjoyed lower-order cameos as they bludgeoned Joe Root's bowlers around the park.

England lost openers Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed in the first seven overs in response, before play was abandoned due to a lightning storm looming over the Adelaide Oval with Root's side 17-2.

But star all-rounder Stokes, who ran himself into the ground for his 3-113 from 25 overs, insisted his side are not already beaten heading into Saturday's third day.

"We know that tomorrow is going to be a good day for batting," Stokes told BBC's Test Match Special.

"Losing two wickets is not ideal, but tomorrow is a new day. We'll park everything, just like we parked the result in Brisbane.

"We don't believe we're beaten already."

Indeed, Stokes made an early comeback to feature in the Ashes touring party, after initially taking a break from cricket to allow his finger injury to heal and to prioritise his mental wellbeing.

While things have not gone to plan so far for the 30-year-old or England, Stokes believes his decision to play has already been justified and is by far worthwhile.

Asked by reporters whether he had enjoyed his return so far, Stokes said: "Yes. I've loved every minute of it.

"If you don't feel sore getting up in the morning, you've probably not done what's required of you. You've just got to love the dirt when you get that deep in the game and understand what you're playing for.

"We've seen a lot of the support we've been getting on social media from everyone back in England, and the guys who have been supporting us here in Australia have been absolutely phenomenal.

"It's incredible wherever we go. You hear them even though they're outnumbered, and there are people who are staying up through the middle of the night to watch us from afar in the bars and stuff.

"That's incredible to see. Obviously, the first Test didn't go well and Australia are ahead at the moment, but we know back home we'll be getting as much support as we always do and for us it's about letting them know we really appreciate it."

England fast bowling coach Jon Lewis defended the tourists' selection for the first Ashes Test and says Ben Stokes' fitness will be assessed ahead of day three at the Gabba.

Australia are in command of the series-opener in Brisbane after closing on 343-7 in reply to England's 147 all out, leading by 196 runs.

Travis Head (112 not out) smashed the third-fastest Ashes century off only 85 balls after David Warner made 94 and Marnus Labuschagne crafted 74 on day two.

Ollie Robinson was the pick of the England bowlers, taking 3-48, but had to leave the field with a hamstring injury, although the paceman later revealed he had not done serious damage.

Stokes also sustained a knee injury on a tough day for Joe Root's side in the heat, with spinner Jack Leach's 11 overs going for 95.

But Lewis says the selectors did not feel they ought to have played an extra seamer.

"We looked at the pitch on the day before the game and the morning of the game and decided to go with the make-up of the team that we have," he told reporters.

"That's what we felt was the right decision at the time, and I think if we'd have all bowled to the best of our ability, we would have put Australia under a bit more pressure than we did today.

"We still took several Australian wickets. We are a bit behind in the game; however, like I said to the lads before, I know the guys will come back fighting in the next few days."

Lewis was unable to shed any light on the extent of the damage Stokes has done.

Asked about the all-rounder's injury, he replied: "I don't know, I don't assess players, I'm not part of the medical team. We'll see how he pulls up in the morning."

Stokes bowled Warner for 17, but the opener was reprieved as England's vice-captain had over-stepped.

Warner was also dropped by Rory Burns on 48 and should have been run out when he had 60 to his name on a bad day for the tourists in the field.

James Anderson and Stuart Broad were the only members of the England squad who were born when the tourists last won an Ashes Test at the Gabba.

The hostile iconic Brisbane venue has been such a fortress for Australia that you have to go back to November 1986 for their previous Test defeat to England at the ground where the 2021-22 series starts on Wednesday.

Yet India consigned Australia to a first Gabba loss in the longest format for over 32 years in January and England captain Joe Root is backing his side to end the hoodoo, despite a lack of match practice due to rain.

The world's number one Test batter said: "[Victory] would absolutely set us up for the rest of the series and it's a great opportunity.

"This group of players, not that long ago, went to Cape Town where we've not won a Test for a long period of time and off the back of a performance there won the series.

"I feel like we have been able to do that around the world and this is an opportunity to do that here. Obviously conditions are slightly different to home, at this venue in particular with that extra bit of bounce, but we have prepared as well as we can for that. If we manage that well we should give a really good account of ourselves and start well."

Ben Stokes' return gives England a massive lift as they attempt to wrestle back the urn, though they won't have the usual level of backing from the Barmy Army as usual due to coronavirus travel restrictions.

The tourists were thrashed 4-0 in their last Ashes series Down Under in 2017-18 after the humiliation of a 2013-14 whitewash, so it is almost 10 years since their last Test win in Australia.

Stats Perform looks at some of the key factors that will decide whether they can make it a miserable start to Pat Cummins' reign as Australia Test captain.

 

Stoking the fires

Stokes has not played for his country since July, but declared himself fit to face Australia after taking a break to prioritise his mental well-being and fully recover from a fractured finger.

The all-rounder was England's player of the series in an Ashes series two years ago that ended in a 2-2 draw, scoring 441 runs at an average of 55.12 and producing one of the great innings at Headingley to pull off an unlikely victory.

Vice-captain Stokes' return should add strength to the middle order they have been lacking and Root will be hoping he can do some damage in short, sharp bursts with the ball.

 

Root must keep racking up the runs

It has been an incredible 2021 for Root, who has scored six Test centuries - including one double-hundred in Sri Lanka and another in India.

The skipper said this tour will define his captaincy and England will need him to keep racking up the runs if they are to return home with a surprise series win.

Only five batsmen have scored more Test centuries in a year than Root's tally, with Mohammad Yousuf holding the record with a staggering nine in 2006.

 

Lack of pace potency?

Not for the first time in Ashes, a lack of pace could be a big issue for England and how they would love to have a fit Jofra Archer firing.

Australian Troy Cooley was brought into the touring party as a consultant pace bowling coach and there is no doubting the quality in the England attack, led by James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

Broad tormented Warner in the 2019 series, but the opener could be much more difficult to dismiss on home soil with a Kookaburra ball and returned to form in Australia's recent T20 World Cup triumph.

Mark Wood is capable of doing damage but it remains to be seen how many Tests the injury-prone quick can play. Ollie Robinson could make a big impact in his first Ashes series and Chris Woakes can hit the sort of lengths to trouble batters in Australia.

England's Jack Leach has said Ben Stokes' return to the squad is a "great boost" ahead of the start of the Ashes series in Australia.

Stokes has not played competitively since July and was initially omitted from England's squad as he recovered from a second operation on a broken finger and took a break to protect his mental wellbeing, but the all-rounder was subsequently added to the travelling party.

Stokes famously partnered Leach in a last-wicket stand of 76 to dramatically beat the Aussies in the third Test at Headingley in 2019.

"Obviously having Stokesy back is a great boost for all of us," Leach said. "Some of the things he's done in the past, you know, he's such an important player for us.

"In terms of the balance, it really helps things out, and it's probably good news for the spin department.

"The wickets aren't necessarily going to be really spin-friendly, but I think spin has as a big part to play in Ashes series where England have been successful.

"The spinners have got a big part to play. So, yeah, I'm hopeful I can be the guy and play that role, definitely."

On how Stokes has reintegrated into training and the squad, Leach added: "Luckily, I haven't had to face him in the nets. But yeah, he's looking really good.

"He's fit back into the group brilliantly. It's great to have him back around.

"He's been brilliant and he's such a team man. I think the group is only better for having him in it. He brings experience, I think he really brings the boys together, so that's been really good.

"He's looking good bowling and batting. I've bowled at him and he doesn't block too many balls from the spinners, so yeah, he's looked good."

Leach is hopeful of playing a part in the upcoming series, and admitted to regularly watching his Australian counterpart Nathan Lyon to pick up tips and tricks to improve his own bowling.

"I'm preparing to play, definitely. Like I do for every series that I'm involved with," he added. "For me, the best way to go about it, obviously is to try to prepare to play, and then obviously be really disappointed if I'm not.

"For years I've watched Nathan Lyon, and he's very impressive how he goes about his business. Just how strong his stock ball is and on wickets that don't necessarily offer a lot spin-wise, I think he's found ways to extract bounce and dip. So a lot over spin from him, and I think those are the kind of things I've been trying to add in.

"You take little bits from everyone you play against. I was in India looking at Axar Patel, [Ravi] Ashwin and seeing what I can take from them. So you're always doing that.

"But I think it's important not to get too caught up in that and also just stick to your strengths as well, and know that you're playing at this level for a reason."

England all-rounder Ben Stokes has declared himself "fit and hungry for a big series" ahead of the first Ashes Test against Australia.

Joe Root's side get their campaign started on December 8 in Brisbane and will be boosted by the return of their star all-rounder Stokes.

The 30-year-old has not played competitively since July and was initially omitted from England's squad as he recovered from a second operation on a broken finger and took a break to protect his mental wellbeing.

But Stokes was subsequently added to the travelling party in October as he assured he was ready to make a comeback for the tour and first Test at The Gabba.

Stokes, who averages 38.37 against Australia, offered England a scare when he took a blow to the forearm in a net session last week before Root confirmed the Durham man was fit. 

With just a week to go before the two old foes do battle once more, Stokes is relishing the opportunity to take on Justin Langer's side.

 

"Don't call it a comeback," Stokes posted on Instagram alongside a video of him training with bat and ball on Wednesday.

"Spent some time testing out the finger with [Adidas] last month.

"Two months ago, I couldn't hold a bat. With one week to go till the first Test, I'm fit and hungry for a big series Down Under!"

Rory Burns says Ben Stokes' return to the England Test squad in time for the Ashes tour of Australia has provided "a massive boost".

Stokes was initially omitted from the squad for the away series as he recovered from a second operation on a broken finger and took a break from cricket to protect his mental wellbeing.

But the all-rounder gave Joe Root's side a huge lift last week by declaring he was ready to make his comeback, and he flew out to Australia on Thursday.

He will be available, barring any fitness issues, for the first Test at The Gabba on December 8.

 

Stokes was a star of the previous Ashes series in 2019, albeit his heroics in a famous Headingley Test did not prove enough for England to reclaim the urn.

And Burns explained the confidence boost Stokes' timely return has provided.

"It's obviously a massive boost, you know. To get Stokesy back in the side and back in the squad and back around things is obviously a massive boost for us," the opener told reporters.

"We all know what a good player he is. I don't really have to tell you about that. To get a bloke of his calibre and background back in our group is obviously a massive lift for us."

Stokes' return may have come as a surprise to some, but not Burns, who said: "I wasn't actually that surprised. I kind of felt like something was bubbling away.

"So, it was nice when I saw it announced. Because it is exciting and we want to get out there and have the best side possible, and obviously Ben adds to that in a massive way."

Burns impressed in the 2019 series, scoring 133 in the first innings of his Ashes debut before going on to record two more half-centuries (53 and 81).

"I think, from a personal standpoint, I played quite nicely in my only Ashes series to date," Burns continued.

"That was in my home conditions and those sort of things; we are probably going to get some different conditions out here in Australia. There is confidence there but also, at the same time, it's just taking what's in front of you every step of the way."

Ben Stokes is relishing the prospect of making his return in "the pinnacle of Test cricket" when England do battle with Australia in the Ashes.

Stokes was initially omitted from the squad for the series Down Under as he recovered from a second operation on a broken finger and took a break to protect his mental wellbeing.

The all-rounder then gave Joe Root's side a huge lift last week by declaring he was ready to make his comeback.

Stokes will fly out to Australia with the Test and Lions squad on Thursday and is raring to go ahead of the first Test at the Gabba on December 8.

"I just took it day by day, step by step. I had fantastic support around me to help me through that, and I'm just excited to get out there," Stokes told Sky Sports.

"I had a lot of scar tissue build-up around my joint and my tendons so he [the surgeon] removed all that, which thankfully allowed me to actually get some movement and took away the frustration in terms of pain as well.

"I'm glad to come out the other side of that. I think it's important for anyone [to take a step back]. Whether it be a job or their day-to-day life, it's important for everyone."

 

Stokes believes England have a good chance of regaining the urn, with the onus not only on proven world-class players such as himself to perform.

"One player doesn't make a team, and although I know I'm a senior member of that team over the last few years, every member of that team is just as important as each other," he added.

"We have got a huge amount of experience in our squad, although we've got some young guys who are still learning their way in Test cricket.

"We've got the likes of Jimmy [Anderson], Broady [Stuart Broad] who have obviously been there, done that. Rooty - fantastic leader and England's greatest-ever batter, so we've got everything to come back at Australia with what they've got.

"You are playing at the highest level possible and the Ashes - for an Englishman in Australia, that is the pinnacle of Test cricket. It is the only series that is almost like a World Cup, because they are such rivals."

Steve Smith believes the return of "dangerous" England all-rounder Ben Stokes makes for a mouthwatering Ashes series.

Stokes has not played since July, having taken a break to protect his mental wellbeing while he also recovered from a broken finger.

The England vice-captain underwent a second operation on his finger but recently posted footage of himself batting and bowling in the nets.

Stokes was initially omitted from the squad for the tour of Australia, but the England and Wales Cricket Board on Monday announced that he has been added to the squad.

Australia batsman Smith has welcomed the news that Stokes will be involved, with the Ashes getting under way at The Gabba on December 8.

"I think any team's more dangerous when you've got someone like Ben Stokes playing," Smith said.

"It certainly adds a lot to their depth, but like I said we're excited and I'm glad personally that he's able to be back playing some cricket. It makes for a really good series."

 

Smith has been troubled by an elbow injury, but the former Australia captain does not expect it to be an issue when Tim Paine's side attempt to retain the urn.

Quoted in the Australian press on Tuesday, Smith said: "I've tried to bat every second day, or not bat three days in a row, just to take a bit of load off. On the days I'm batting, I'm batting for as long as I want to, which is nice.

"I'm still taking it easy at the moment. I'll build up again as we get closer to playing some longer format stuff. It is in a good place, it feels really good. I'm continuing with my strength work and my rehab stuff – I feel like I'm going well and progressing along nicely, so I've got no real concerns [for the Ashes]."

Ben Stokes has been added to the England squad for the Ashes tour of Australia.

The Durham all-rounder was omitted from the original selection as he continued his recovery from a second operation on a broken finger.

Stokes, who sustained the injury while playing in the Indian Premier League in April, announced in July he was taking a break from cricket to protect his mental wellbeing and allow his finger to recover.

Having been given the all-clear by the medical team of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), the 30-year-old will depart for Australia with the Test and Lions squad on November 4.

"I had a break to prioritise my mental wellbeing and I got my finger sorted," Stokes said.

"I am looking forward to seeing my mates and being on the field with them. I'm ready for Australia."

 

Ashley Giles, managing director of England Men's Cricket, said: "Following a very successful operation on his finger and several conversations over the last few weeks between Ben and I, our medical staff and his management team, Ben called me to say he was ready to return to cricket and was excited about the prospect of playing a significant role in the Ashes series.

"Time and time again, Ben has demonstrated how important he is to the England team and having him available for the Ashes series is excellent news for all of us and, in particular, [coach] Chris [Silverwood], Joe [Root] and the rest of the players.

"Having not played for some time, we will move forward cautiously over the next few weeks to ensure he is fully prepared across all facets of his game.

"Ahead of a very busy period of cricket, we continue to remain mindful of the stresses on all our personnel, and our primary focus continues to be the wellbeing of all of our players and support staff."

The Ashes begins at The Gabba on December 8 and concludes a month later at Optus Stadium in Perth.

England are looking to regain the urn after it was retained by Australia following a 2-2 series draw in 2019.

Page 1 of 4
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.