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.

Darren Gough has been appointed as managing director of Yorkshire on an interim basis following the Azeem Rafiq racism crisis, the club has confirmed.

Ex-England bowler Gough will relinquish his current media duties to take the role at his former county, initially until the conclusion of the 2022 season, as Yorkshire look to rebuild in the wake of the revelations by Rafiq.

A 100-page independent report in early November upheld claims by Rafiq that he had been the victim of "racial harassment and bullying" during his time at Yorkshire.

Former chairman Roger Hutton resigned with immediate effect over Yorkshire's handling of the investigation, with new chair Kamlesh Patel stepping into the role.

Chief executive Mark Arthur then followed Hutton in resigning, while Yorkshire announced on Friday that they were parting ways with their entire coaching and medical team, including first-team coach Andrew Gale and director of cricket Martyn Moxon.

Gough, who enjoyed two spells at Headingley as a player, will oversee the recruitment of a new coaching team as his immediate priority.

On his appointment, Gough told Yorkshire's official website: "Yorkshire County Cricket Club has been part of my life since my earliest days in cricket when I made my debut in 1989, and I spent 15 happy years at the club. 

"Like many, I have followed how the club handled the recent racism allegations with sadness and anger.

"I want to play my part in rebuilding cricket in Yorkshire and I am looking forward to working with the exceptionally talented group of players here. 

"I am also aware of my wider responsibility to listen to everyone and ensure that every person who is associated with this club feels welcome, instilling values we want associated with the White Rose: honesty, straight talking, hard work, integrity and excellence.

"I share [Kamlesh] Patel's vision for Yorkshire County Cricket Club, and the collective determination to face the issues head on with a series of positive actions. Change will not happen overnight, but I am certain that we can make Headingley roar again."

Gough retired from professional cricket in 2008 but travelled to New Zealand in 2019 as a mentor for England's seamers on tour.

Current England captain Joe Root, who worked with Gough on that tour and is a lifelong Yorkshire player, has backed the 51-year-old to succeed in his new role.

Speaking ahead of the first Ashes Test in Brisbane, Root – before the appointment was confirmed – said: "It's news to me, but if that is the case he's a good man and I'm sure he'll be looking to put his stamp on things at the club.

"From my experience of spending time with Goughie, he's obviously very passionate and knowledgeable about the game. His love for it is clear for everyone to see. 

"I'm sure he'll want to bring all of that to the fore, all of his experience and achievements in the game and pass them on to the group if he is the man to take over."

Joe Root has predicted the upcoming Ashes series against Australia will "define" his reign as England captain.

Root will go up against new Australia skipper Pat Cummins in the five-Test series, and he acknowledges results against the old enemy have been the yardstick for judging England captains in the past.

The 30-year-old's only other series in the role in Australia resulted in a 4-0 defeat four years ago, but Root sees this as an opportunity for himself and his team-mates to make an impact.

Speaking ahead of the first Test which starts on Wednesday in Brisbane, Root told reporters: "Of course it will define my captaincy – I'm not naive enough to think that it won't – but what a great opportunity.

"If you look how hard it's been for English captains and English teams [to win in Australia] over the years, it has been something which doesn't happen very often.

"I'm very excited about it and can't wait for the series to get going."

Root is the top-ranked Test batsman in world cricket, ahead of Australia's Steve Smith and New Zealand captain Kane Williamson.

In 2021, Root has scored 1,455 Test runs in 12 matches at an average of 66.13, over 500 runs more than India's Rohit Sharma in second place.

He is also set to overtake Alastair Cook as the player to have won the most caps while captain of England during the series.

 

"You look at some of the players, some of the individuals, some of the performances guys have put in," Root added. "The senior guys have done it time and time again and the junior guys have shown glimpses of what they can do and their potential.

"What better stage to really grab a series and make an announcement on the international stage. I'm an Ashes player and I want to live in the history of this great rivalry. That carrot is there for everyone."

Australia have already named their side for the first Test at the Gabba, including Travis Head and Mitchell Starc.

The Australians have won seven of their last eight men's Test series against England on home soil, not losing a single match in three of their last four series hosting the Ashes.

Root said England were not yet in a position to name their team but did suggest that spin would be important, hinting that Jack Leach could feature.

"We've got all the options on the table right now. We're not going to name a team just yet. We'll have to see a closer forecast and how that pitch changes over the next couple of days," Root said.

"But I do think it is a good place to bowl spin. If you speak to some of the great spin bowlers from Australia, they've always enjoyed bowling here.

"It's something we'll weigh up, but we're not in a position to make a call on that right now."

Joe Root believes that England's four-day warm-up game against England Lions in Brisbane provides his side with an opportunity to get ahead of Australia in their Ashes preparations.

Jos Buttler, Mark Wood, Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan and Chris Woakes are finally available to participate again after 14 days in quarantine following their involvement in the T20 World Cup.

Australia's preparations have hardly been smooth. Six players in their squad were involved in the T20 World Cup success in the United Arab Emirates, while Tim Paine resigned as captain due to a sexting scandal before subsequently taking an indefinite break from cricket, meaning he is out of the series.

Pat Cummins, one of the players to lead Australia to glory in the shortest format earlier this month, has taken over as captain.

While poor weather conditions cut England's initial three-day practice match short, Root is hoping a high-intensity meeting with the Lions will set the tone for the Test series, which begins in Brisbane on December 8.

"There's a lot of people that will want to prove things, and will want to show that they deserve an opportunity for that first Test match," Root told reporters.

"This is a really good chance for us to get ahead of things, maybe get ahead of Australia in terms of preparation and game-time ahead of the series, and it would be silly for us to just cosy our way through the four days.

"It's been unusual. Having spent a period of time in quarantine and training within that quarantine phase, and then coming to Brisbane.

"We haven't had that three-day game, as we would have liked, but it was always going to be the case that tomorrow was really the first day as a squad that we would get together, with those World Cup guys joining us.

"So we always knew that this next phase was going to be the most crucial part, in terms of getting tight, getting clear and readying ourselves, and that's going to be the real test for us.

"We want that intensity to be as high as we can, as close to the Test matches as we can, and I expect it to be very competitive," Root added.

"The quality of the players will be there from both teams and, because of the lack of preparation that we've had in that previous three-day game, having that extra bit of flexibility to make sure we can get as many guys what they need throughout these four days is going to be crucial.

"But whether you play those games in your mind a little bit more, visualise a little bit more, it's really important you find different ways of making sure that, when that first ball comes down at the Gabba, we're in the best place possible."

England are looking to regain the urn after a drawn series in 2019 saw Australia retain the Ashes for the first time since 2002-03.

David Lloyd was the only person to contact Azeem Rafiq and apologise on Tuesday, following the latter's emotional appearance in front of a parliamentary select committee.

Rafiq, who was found to have suffered racial harassment and bullying while at Yorkshire, gave evidence in Tuesday's hearing.

He accused Yorkshire and English cricket in general of being institutionally racist.

Former England head coach Lloyd, who is a leading commentator for Sky Sports and is commonly known by his nickname 'Bumble', was implicated by Rafiq, who also made allegations against former Yorkshire captain Gary Ballance and current head coach Andrew Gale.

The county's director of cricket Martyn Moxon was also said to have heard the abuse, while former chairman Roger Hutton admitted the county failed to act accordingly.

Rafiq claimed Lloyd had made offensive remarks over text message to a third party, but he claimed the commentator was the only person to have apologised to him directly since the hearing.

Asked if Gale, Ballance – who has publicly apologised for any offence he caused – or Moxon had been in touch, Rafiq told Sky Sports: "No, I don't expect them to be. I still don't think any of them think they've done anything wrong.

"It just shows them for what they are. The arrogance there and the complete disregard of anyone else but themselves and their views.

"A lot of people have known. That's why some of the apologies – anyone who's apologised, I accept, that's all I've ever wanted – but it does make you think, you've known this for 14 months, if you were genuinely sorry, you would have done it. But anyone who's apologised deserves a second chance."

Moxon is on leave from Yorkshire due to a stress-related issue, while Gale has been suspended pending an investigation into a Twitter exchange with a former Leeds United executive that is alleged to have included an anti-Semitic slur.

Sky confirmed on Tuesday that they would open an investigation into the remarks attributed to Lloyd, who also used his official Twitter account to apologise to Rafiq and the Asian cricket community.

"He rang me last night, I told him honestly what I thought about his comments," Rafiq added. 

"They were completely out of order. He told me was briefed by somebody close to the club, which is disappointing because even that gentleman doesn't know me that well.

"But he rang, he apologised, I accepted his apology and he committed to make a difference and that's a positive."

Current England Test captain Joe Root was also brought up in Tuesday's hearing. Rafiq said Root was "a good man" and stressed the batsman had never took part in any abuse.

However, he was concerned by Root's comment that he had not heard any racist language used at Yorkshire.

"Rooty is a good man but it just shows how bad that institution and environment was that even a good man like him didn't see it, didn't feel like it was right to stop it probably and doesn't remember it probably because it won't mean anything to him," Rafiq said.

"The bystanders – from now on – if you continue to just be bystanders you're as much of a problem as the guys who are perpetrators."

Azeem Rafiq described himself as "incredibly hurt" after England captain Joe Root said he could not recall witnessing racism at Yorkshire.

An independent report upheld former Yorkshire spinner Rafiq's allegations that he had been the victim of "racial harassment and bullying" during his time with the county.

Yorkshire carried out their own internal investigation following the findings of the report and concluded no conduct or action taken by any of its employees, players or executives warranted disciplinary measures.

The England and Wales Cricket Board last week suspended Yorkshire from hosting international and major matches in response to the club's "wholly unacceptable" handling of Rafiq's allegations of institutional racism.

Yorkshire batsman Root addressed the scandal in a statement on Friday, saying it had "fractured our game" and "torn lives apart".

However, in a subsequent media interview, the England skipper was asked if he had witnessed racism in his time at the county and replied: "Not that I can recall, no... but it's clear things have happened at the club."

Shortly after those quotes were released, Rafiq posted on Twitter: "Disappointed is not even the feeling. Incredibly hurt. But uncomfortable truths are hard to accept it seems."

He added no further comment or explanation, but it was reported Rafiq's post was in relation to Root's interview.

Mark Arthur, Yorkshire's CEO, resigned on Friday with immediate effect, following chairman Roger Hutton and other board members.

England captain Joe Root says the Yorkshire County Cricket Club racism scandal has "fractured our game" and "torn lives apart."

An independent report upheld former Yorkshire spinner Azeem Rafiq's allegations that he had been victim of "racial harassment and bullying" during his time with the county.

Yorkshire carried out their own internal investigation following the findings of the report and concluded no conduct or action taken by any of its employees, players or executives warranted disciplinary measures.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) last week suspended Yorkshire from hosting international and major matches in response to the club's "wholly unacceptable" handling of Rafiq's racism allegations of institutional racism.

Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton resigned along with other board members, with Lord Kamlesh Patel swiftly appointed as his replacement.

The ECB appointed a QC to look into Yorkshire's handling of the report and Lord Patel revealed he would be commissioning a specialist independent review of the county's processes and procedures on diversity and inclusion.

Yorkshire batsman and England skipper Root said in a statement on Thursday: "In my capacity as England captain and as a senior player at Yorkshire, I feel compelled to address the current situation that has consumed the sport and YCCC.

"I just want the sport to be a place where everyone is enjoying it for the beautiful game it is and feels equal and safe. It hurts knowing this has happened at YCCC so close to home. It's my club that I care passionately about it. I've spent a lot of time reflecting. There is no debate about racism, no one side or other. It is simply intolerable.

"These events have fractured our game and torn lives apart. We must now recover and come back together as fans, players, media, and those who work within cricket. We have an opportunity to make the sport I love better for everyone.

"I want to see change and actions that will see YCCC rise from this with a culture that harnesses a diverse environment with trust across all communities that support cricket in the county. We need to educate, unify and reset. I will reach out to YCCC new chair, Lord Patel, to offer support however I'm able.

"We have to find a way to move forward and make sure this never happens again. In my opinion, this is a societal issue and needs addressing further afield than just cricket.

"That being said, we, as a sport, all have to do more. How can we all help shape things moving forward positively? What can everyone from myself, the ECB, counties, players, officials and others in the sport do to improve the state of the game?

"I certainly don't have all the answers, but I think we need to educate more and earlier; we must call it out straight away and have our eyes and ears open more.

"Inclusivity, diversity and anti-discrimination is something over the past few years the England teams I have been involved in have spent a lot of time talking about and are very passionate about improving and making a big difference. It's a big part of our culture, and we want to celebrate our diversity.

"We are representing England, and in that, we are representing the multicultural society we live in. We want all the fans to be able to enjoy what we do on the field and feel proud about who's representing them."

Yorkshire this week suspended head coach Andrew Gale pending a disciplinary hearing into an historic tweet, while director of cricket Martyn Moxon has been signed off due to a stress-related illness.

Gary Ballance, Yorkshire's former England batsman, admitted using a racial slur towards his former team-mate Rafiq.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan then revealed he was named in the report but "totally denies any allegation of racism".

Tim Paine says the Ashes will go ahead as scheduled regardless of whether Joe Root and other key England players travel to Australia.

Root this week stated that he is "desperate" to do battle with fierce rivals Australia, but the England captain is not ready to commit to the tour until there is more clarity over coronavirus restrictions.

Jos Buttler is among the other England players who have made it clear they may pull out if their families are not allowed to head to Australia.

Talks between Cricket Australia and the England and Wales Cricket Board over what protocols may be in place are ongoing, with players having already spent long periods in bio-secure bubbles at home and overseas.

Skipper Paine says he will lead his side out at The Gabba on December 8 come what may.

"The Ashes are going ahead - the first Test is on December 8 whether Joe's here or not," the wicketkeeper told SEN Hobart.

"They all want to come, there's no doubt about it.

"They're trying to get themselves the best possible conditions they can, but at the end of the day, we all are.

"It will be worked out above us and then they'll make a decision whether or not they'll get on that plane. There will be a squad of England players coming here for the first Test on December 8th."

Australia prime minister Scott Morrison last month warned England will not benefit from any "special deals" regarding quarantine rules when they arrive in the country.

Joe Root and England will weigh up over the next couple of days whether to risk James Anderson and Ollie Robinson for the must-win final Test with India.

England head into the fifth Test at Old Trafford 2-1 down in the series after India produced another stirring comeback to prevail by 157 runs at The Oval.

It puts Root in the unenviable position of having to measure the risk against the potential reward of salvaging the series, with Anderson and Robinson having taken on the majority of the workload in the attack.

The absence of all-rounder Ben Stokes, who is taking time away from the game to focus on his mental health, and the injured Jofra Archer, as well as fitness issues for Mark Wood, has led to Anderson (163.3) and Robinson (166.2) bowling 329.5 overs between them.

Robinson is the leading wicket-taker in the series with 21 while Anderson has been similarly impressive, claiming 15 dismissals, but the latter is 39 and management of his playing time is key with The Ashes coming in Australia in December.

Root, who confirmed that Jos Buttler would return as his vice-captain and keep wicket after missing the fourth Test for the birth of his second child, and the selectors have yet to come to a decision on the make-up of the attack.

"That's something that we will weigh up over the next couple of days, these two days are really important for recovery, making sure they're in a position to play Test cricket," he told a media conference. 

"You have to trust the medical advice that's been given and also speak to the players as well, they know their own bodies better than anyone else.

"You never want to go into a Test match putting someone under risk of injury, you want to make sure you do the best thing for a player but you also you don't want to go into a Test match, have someone go down injured and you've one less bowler at your disposal. 

"There are a number of things to factor in, we'll make sure we feel very confident that everyone is fit to take the field and put in a Test-worthy performance when it comes round to selecting a team for this game."

While Robinson and Anderson have excelled with the ball, Root has been the sole standout with the bat for England, racking up 564 runs including three hundreds in a sparkling series for the world's number one Test batsman.

Though openers Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed have each scored a pair of half-centuries, no other player in the side has a ton this series, with Root believing clarity of thought is key to his team-mates changing that fact.

"It's not something that I've always got right, there's been long periods of my career where I was very guilty of getting in and getting out and it might happen again in the future, I really hope it doesn't," Root added. 

"What I have managed to do well so far this year is I know how I want to score my runs, I know where my big strengths are, I just back them completely. Trusted my decision-making under pressure, not doubted it, and when I have got in I've felt like I've had that mindset of 'it's going to take something very special to get me out'.

"Hopefully that can be infectious and feed through the rest of the batting group. It just takes that one person to go on and do it, it can very quickly spread like wildfire and feed into the rest of the group. Hopefully that can materialise this week."

Wicketkeeper Jos Buttler has returned to England's squad for the fifth and final Test against India, which starts at Old Trafford on Friday.

Buttler missed the fourth Test, a 157-run loss to India at The Oval, to be present at the birth of his second child.

Jonny Bairstow took over wicketkeeping duties in Buttler's absence as England went 2-1 down in the five-match series.

Sam Billings, who was included in the squad for the fourth Test squad as cover for Bairstow, has now returned to Kent.

Left-arm spinner Jack Leach is also named in the 16-man party for the match.

He was in England's squad for the first two Tests against India but not selected, and has not featured in a Test match since March.

Leach would give England captain Joe Root another spin option alongside Moeen Ali.

Fast bowler Mark Wood, who has returned from a shoulder injury, and left-arm seamer Sam Curran, dropped for the fourth Test, are both available.

England coach Chris Silverwood acknowledged that, with James Anderson and Ollie Robinson having toiled at The Oval, he may need to freshen up a fatigued attack.

"We have got some aching bodies, I'm not going to deny that," Silverwood said.

"So we obviously have to keep an eye on that. He [Wood] could come back and if he does, he will obviously add that pace for us.

"If the pitch is abrasive as it usually is at Old Trafford there should be reverse swing."

Lancashire seamer Anderson, England's record wicket-taker, would be loathe to miss out on playing at his home ground.

Silverwood acknowledged that with a short turnaround between Tests he will need to have a discussion with the 39-year-old over his fitness. 

"James knows his own body. He will certainly give me an honest opinion of where he is at, and it's certainly something I will listen to," Silverwood explained.

"It'll be a discussion that he and I will have together. He will have input into that, without a shadow of a doubt.

"I know what it's like, he won't want to miss any cricket. We have to make sure we look after him.

"Although there is a gap between the final Test and what's in front of him, he's certainly someone I want to make sure is looked after."

England squad for the fifth Test against India at Old Trafford:  Joe Root (captain), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Haseeb Hameed, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

Joe Root demanded England be more ruthless and promised improvements after a 157-run defeat on Monday handed India a 2-1 series lead with one Test to go. 

The tourists' five-man attack shone on day five to collect their first win at The Oval since 1971, Jasprit Bumrah impressing as he became the quickest India paceman to 100 wickets in the longest format. 

After Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed shared England's first 100-run opening stand in the fourth innings since October 2016, Virat Kohli's bowlers ran riot as the hosts collapsed, losing six wickets for 47 runs. 

Bumrah and Shardul Thakur, whose first-innings half-century was the fastest in Test cricket in England, provided the impetus for India and Root pointed to the former as an example. 

"You look at this game, it's been frustrating today to lose 10 wickets," Root said post-match. 

"But I think, when you look where the game was lost, we should have got a bigger lead first time around with the bat. It would have been nice to have another 100 runs and then we're looking at a completely different game. 

"We have to be a bit more ruthless, with the first-innings runs costing us there. And with our catching, we did put down a few chances. Some were extremely difficult but when you give chances and half-chances to world-class players, they take them. 

"You look at that spell from Bumrah, he recognised the key moment in the game and turned it on its head. It's something we have to look at doing ourselves." 

Indeed, Bumrah has taken the second-most wickets in the series (18) behind Ollie Robinson (21), with England the 27-year-old's favourite opponents, striking 36 times at an average of 24.08. 

And it was his afternoon spell, coupled with Thakur's dismissal of Root, that got the ball rolling for Kohli's men. 

"I think it's something we have to get better at and keep looking to improve, recognising those key moments in games and forcing things a little bit more," Root continued. 

"We did it very well at Headingley but here we did not manage that and it's something we have to be more consistent with, looking at certain situations and getting us into that advantageous position. 

"It's hard to take but you have to look at how he responded from Lords to Headingley and we will look to do exactly the same at Old Trafford. We're more than capable of turning things around very quickly."

Chris Woakes made an instant impact on his return as England bowled India out for 191, only for Joe Root to fall late on as the visitors fought back on a frantic day one of the fourth Test. 

England levelled the five-match series at 1-1 with a resounding innings victory at Headingley last weekend after bowling their opponents out for only 78 on the first day. 

India struggled with the bat again after being put in by Root at The Oval on Thursday, captain Virat Kohli falling for 50 as they collapsed to 127-7. 

The recalled Shardul Thakur (57) blasted the fastest Test half-century ever made in England, reaching the landmark off just 31 balls, before India were all out in the 62nd over after the final three wickets fell for one run. 

Jasprit Bumrah (2-15) dismissed Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed to reduce England to 6-2 in a brilliant opening spell and Umesh Yadav struck a huge blow by bowling the in-form Root (21). 

England reached 53-3 at stumps - trailing by 138 - with Dawid Malan unbeaten on 26 and nightwatchman Craig Overton (one not out) ensuring no further damage was done. 

Woakes took 4-55 in his first Test for just over a year, including seeing the back of Rohit Sharma with a peach of a delivery in his first over. 

He also dismissed Ravindra Jadeja, promoted to number five in the order, and was gifted a further wicket when Rishabh Pant was caught at mid-off trying to hit over the top. Thakur was his final victim, though not before playing a potentially crucial cameo. 

Kohli showed his class with some glorious drives before he edged a great delivery from Ollie Robinson (3-38) through to Jonny Bairstow, who took four catches on his return to wicketkeeping duties with Jos Buttler absent.

James Anderson and Overton also took a wicket apiece in another relentless performance from the England attack. 

Bumrah was run out by Burns without facing a ball in a chaotic end to the India innings, but Kohli's men hit back impressively in the final session.

 

WOAKES MAKES UP FOR LOST TIME 

Woakes had not played for his country in the longest format since last August and he made up for lost time having recovered from a heel injury. 

Pant's latest rush of blood to the head gifted Woakes a third wicket and although he took some treatment from Thakur, the seamer had the last laugh when he ended his entertaining knock thanks to a well-judged review. 

THAKUR TAKES HIS CHANCE 

Thakur - recalled along with Umesh as Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma missed out - was another to make his mark, producing a swashbuckling knock after striding to the crease with his team in big trouble. 

He was dismissed without scoring in the first match at Test Bridge but went on the attack to give India some hope as he dominated a much-needed eighth-wicket stand of 63 in just eight overs, hitting three sixes and seven fours in a dramatic hour at the crease, during which he faced only 36 balls. 

India are confident of responding to their Headingley humiliation when they face England in the fourth Test at The Oval.

England levelled the five-match series at 1-1 in emphatic fashion in Leeds last weekend, winning by an innings and 76 runs in the morning session on day four.

India had won the second Test at Lord's in dramatic fashion, but the tourists were brought back down to earth when they were bowled out for only 78 on the first day at Headingley after Virat Kohli won the toss.

They suffered another spectacular collapse in the second innings, folding from 215-2 to 278 all out as Ollie Robinson claimed a five-wicket haul.

India went on to secure a series win in Australia early last year after they were skittled out for a meagre 36 in the first Test and bowling coach Bharat Arun says they can put another embarrassment behind them in London.

"We have been bowled out for 36 earlier and we have bounced back from that," he said during a press conference on Wednesday. 

"We have our ways of doing things and we have done in the past, we take confidence from there and hopefully can give better performance in the next two Tests."

India added fast bowler Prasidh Krishna to their squad on the eve of a fourth Test that starts on Thursday.

Arun said of the paceman's inclusion: "He's been included mainly considering all the workload management issues. Nothing more to it than that.

"Ishant's [Sharma] form in the last game that was a bit of concern but I think we have sorted things out. Prasidh Krishna is just a precautionary inclusion."

Jonny Bairstow will take over wicketkeeping duties with Jos Buttler absent as his wife is due to give birth, while Chris Woakes, Ollie Pope and Mark Wood are vying for a place in the England side.

All-rounder Moeen Ali has replaced Buttler as vice-captain.

 

ROOT ON TOP OF THE WORLD AND EYEING MORE RECORDS

England captain Joe Root is in the form of his life and has returned to the top of the Test rankings for the first time in six years.

Root has scored 507 runs at an average of 126.75 in this series, scoring three centuries in as many Tests. 

Victory at Headingley, where Root made a magnificent 121 in the first innings, made him the most successful England Test captain with 27 wins.

The skipper has reached three figures six times this year in the longest format and another hundred will see him set a new England record for the most in a calendar year.

Root only needs one more century to go past Kevin Pietersen's tally of 23 in Tests, a total only Alastair Cook (33) has bettered for England.

INDIA TO FINALLY UNLEASH ASHWIN?

Ravichandran Ashwin starred with both ball and bat when India beat England in a Test series on home soil this year but the all-rounder has played no part in this series.

Arun did not rule out both Ravindra Jadeja and Ashwin playing at The Oval.

He said: "Ashwin, no doubt, is one of the best bowlers we have and its unfortunate that he has not played so far but if there is an opportunity and if we feel that he is going to fit into the scheme of things, they will definitely both be bowling in tandem."

Arun added: "The best thing would be to decide after looking at the track tomorrow morning as anything could happen between now and tomorrow. So we look at it tomorrow morning and decide."

KEY OPTA FACTS

- England have lost only one of their 13 Tests against India at The Oval (W5, D7), a four-wicket defeat in August 1971. They have won each of the past three matches versus India at the London venue
- Rohit Sharma is 91 shy of becoming the 23rd player to score 3,000 runs in Tests for India. Only against South Africa (678) has the opener scored more Test runs than he has against England (609).
- England are one away from reaching their 50th Test victory against India
- India will be looking to avoid back-to-back Test defeats for the first time since December 2020,

England captain Joe Root has regained top spot in the ICC men's Test batting rankings following his impressive displays in the ongoing series with India.

The 30-year-old has recorded centuries in all three Tests, which is tied at 1-1 ahead of the fourth match at The Oval this week, aggregating 507 runs at an average of 126.75.

Root was fifth on the list at the start of the series but his form throughout 2021 has seen him overtake Virat Kohli, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith and previous number one Kane Williamson to lead the way for the first time since December 2015.

Kohli has slipped out of the top five, with Rohit Sharma overtaking his team-mate with his highest ever position.

The 916 ranking points accrued by Root is one below his career-best aggregate from August 2015 and has been bettered by only four other England batsmen – Len Hutton, Jack Hobbs, Peter May and Denis Compton

"Obviously it's a nice thing to hear," Root said. "I've got to keep trying to score in this series and get us over the line.

"As nice as it is, there is still so much hard work to do. Our focus does not change. I'm obviously proud to have achieved this and I'd like to stay there now by playing like I am.

"Hopefully the form of my life is still to come, but I do feel very good at the minute. I've got to stay focused now."

In bowling terms, Root's England team-mate James Anderson has moved back up to number five in a list led by Australia's Pat Cummins.

England levelled their five-match series with India thanks to an innings victory in the third Test at Headingley last week.

All-rounder Moeen Ali has been confirmed as England's vice-captain for the fourth Test after Jos Buttler was given a paternity break ahead of the arrival of his second child.
 

Joe Root said he "couldn't be more proud" after becoming England's most successful Test captain with a hammering of India at Headingley on Saturday.

The magnificent Ollie Robinson took 5-65 as England claimed eight wickets in a dramatic morning session on day four, bowling India out for 278 to win by an innings and 76 runs.

That resounding victory squared the series at 1-1 with two matches to play and took Root's tally of Test wins as skipper to 27, moving the in-form captain beyond Michael Vaughan's total.

Root, who made a sixth Test hundred this year in the first innings in Leeds and a third of this series, thanked the team-mates and coaches who have enabled him to set the record.

"As I mentioned before the game, I'm living my boyhood dream captaining England," said Root.

"I couldn't be more proud to have gone past Michael but you don't do that on your own as a captain, it's down to the group of players and the coaching staff as well.

"You're the one making the decisions but they are the ones going out, time and time again putting in performances. I'm really proud of the way they have done that this week.

"I'm sat here now at 1-1 with a big, smiley dressing-room and two big games ahead of us."

Root is only five Tests away from surpassing Alastair Cook's record of the longest-serving England captain, with the former opener having taken charge 59 times.

The 30-year-old says he has not given any thought over how long he will stay in the role.

"It's been a very challenging period throughout my tenure as captain, there has been a lot to contend with, a lot around the games, and not necessarily all the full focus has been on the field," said Root.

"But that's part and parcel of the job. I haven't put a time limit on it. As long as I am enjoying it, as long as we feel like we are moving in the right direction and that I am the right man for it in my own mind, I am more than happy to keep doing it."

Virat Kohli made 55 and Cheteshwar Pujara failed to add to his overnight total of 91 as India were blown away on the penultimate day, Craig Overton finishing with 3-47, with James Anderson and Moeen Ali taking a wicket apiece.

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