Ben Stokes said on Tuesday that the forecast of bad weather in Manchester could make England even more aggressive as it bids to keep its Ashes hopes alive with victory in the fourth Test at Old Trafford.
England remained in contention to regain the urn from arch-rival Australia with a three-wicket win at Headingley that left the host 2-1 down with two to play ahead of the concluding two Tests at Old Trafford and The Oval.
Since England captain Stokes joined forces with coach Brendon McCullum last year, the team has become renowned for its bold ‘Bazball’ approach to red-ball cricket.
But with heavy rain forecast on the fourth and fifth days in Manchester, England may have to up its tempo while trying to force a win in a match starting on Wednesday.
“You never want to look too much into the weather but in the position we find ourselves in, we find we might have to,” Stokes told an Old Trafford news conference on Tuesday.
“We know we have to win this game to take it to the last game for us to have a chance of getting the urn back. Going into the last game 2-0 down, we knew we had to win that, so I think that helped us a little bit. Maybe again with the weather that’s predicted, it might bring more out of us knowing that we might have to push the game on even more than we normally do.
“We’ll just have to wait and see. If the weather is what it’s predicted to be, we might have to.”
England is bidding to become only the second side in history to win an Ashes from 2-0 down following the Australia team of 1936/37 that, inspired by batting great Don Bradman, overturned such a deficit to triumph 3-2.
The current series had drawn comparisons with England’s celebrated 2-1 victory over Australia in 2005 and all-rounder Stokes, asked if this could be the greatest series, replied, “If we win this one then going into the last game at 2-2, it would be hard not to say this is the best men’s Ashes series in a long time, if not the best.
“Overall, take away Australia and England, the cricket that’s been played has been brilliant. Everyone who’s watched at the ground or home on TV has just really enjoyed the cricket that’s been played.
“There have been some pretty special moments out on the cricket ground, some special individual performances as well.”
England has recalled record wicket-taker James Anderson on his Lancashire home ground, where he has an end named in his honour, as he replaces fellow seamer Ollie Robinson in the only change to its XI at Headingley.
Anderson, 41 later this month, took just three wickets at an expensive average of 75 in the first two Tests.
“When you’re quality performer like Jimmy has been for the last 10 years, he is going to be disappointed that he’s not contributed to the team like he normally does,” Stokes said. “But I did say to him ‘Even if you’re not taking wickets like you want to be doing, at the other end you see the pressure you’re putting on the opposition’.
“He holds an end up without that being his main obligation with the ball. You don’t get as many wickets as him without having the odd bad game here and there - there’s no issues whatsoever with Jimmy.”
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