England have made some notable changes for their upcoming match, with Harry Brook taking on the responsibility of batting at No. 3. Additionally, the team has decided to recall the experienced trio of Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, and Mark Wood.
England are preparing for a significant shake-up in response to Ollie Pope’s unfortunate injury, which has ruled him out of the Ashes series. The third Test at Headingley will witness Harry Brook’s promotion to the No. 3 position in the batting order. Moeen Ali, who missed the second Test due to a finger injury, will make his return, alongside the inclusion of Chris Woakes and Mark Wood, who replace the rested James Anderson and Josh Tongue.
The vice-captain, Pope, is set to miss the remainder of the summer due to a shoulder dislocation suffered in the second Test defeat at Lord’s. England faces the challenge of recovering from a 2-0 deficit in the Ashes, a situation they have never encountered before. Australia, on the other hand, has not won a series on English soil since 2001.
Rather than directly replacing Pope with the spare batsman in the squad, Dan Lawrence, England is considering rebalancing their bowling attack. Brook’s elevation to the No. 3 spot allows the world’s top-ranked Test batsman, Joe Root, to maintain his preferred position at No. 4. Although Brook has primarily excelled in the middle order during his first-class career with Yorkshire, this move presents a gamble for England. His performance in the series has shown promise, but he struggled against Australia’s short-ball strategy at Lord’s. With Moeen’s return, he will bat at No. 7, providing England with a frontline spin option that was lacking in the previous match.
In terms of the bowling attack, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood will replace the rested Anderson and Tongue. Stuart Broad and Ollie Robinson retain their spots. Anderson, who only managed three wickets in the first two Tests, and Tongue, who made a strong impression on his Ashes debut but has a history of injuries, are expected to return for the fourth Test at Old Trafford.
Wood, who hasn’t played Test cricket this year and missed the Lord’s Test due to a mild elbow issue, will undergo a fitness test but is expected to pass it. The Headingley pitch appears to be green with live grass, favoring Woakes, who is likely to play his first Test since March 2021 under the leadership of Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum. Fielding a four-man pace attack allows England to explore the successful bouncer strategy employed in the second innings at Lord’s, where the last eight Australian wickets fell to short balls.
Despite Pope’s injury creating an opportunity to recall Ben Foakes, who was overlooked in favor of Bairstow for the series, England has chosen to bolster their bowling options instead.
The selection of four seamers and Moeen, alongside Stokes, indicates that the captain’s bowling contributions will be limited. Stokes, troubled by chronic knee tendonitis, may still bowl occasional spells but will primarily focus on building upon his impressive batting form displayed at Lord’s, where he scored a remarkable 155 runs in a losing cause.
At this point, England does not plan to name a replacement vice-captain for Pope, who will undergo surgery for his third serious shoulder injury—this time to his right shoulder, as the previous ones were to his left. The injury worsened after he was asked to field during Australia’s second innings, leading to an uncomfortable fall.
Root, the former captain, expressed his disappointment at losing Pope and acknowledged his significant contributions to the team. Pope’s absence will be deeply felt, considering his development as vice-captain and the positive influence he had on the group. Root believes Pope will remain an integral part of the team for many years to come.