The Ashes wash-out at Old Trafford left England feeling ‘emotionless’ but the host will need no stirring ahead of the fifth Test starting on Thursday, according to captain Ben Stokes.
England would almost certainly have beaten Australia in the fourth Test to arrive at The Oval 2-2 but not a single ball was bowled as the rain poured down on the final day.
Australia had begun its second innings on Friday and was reduced to 113-4, before moving to 214-5 on Saturday when only 30 overs were bowled, needing 61 to make England bat again.
The Pat Cummins-led side was saved by the weather, however, meaning Australia retains the Ashes whatever happens at The Oval.
‘Bizarre’ experience for Stokes
“Leaving Manchester after the game was done, I’ve never left the field, never left a game emotionless,” Stokes said at a press conference on Wednesday.
“It was a really bizarre feeling the way the game petered out because of the weather. You sort of look back and wish maybe we either got beat or Australia managed to pull a draw off in that situation,” the skipper said.
“Shaking hands with the umpires and the opposition at the end, you could see that from both sides, it was emotionless, Australia retaining the Ashes and us not being able to win it back. Two teams of professional athletes want to be out there playing against each other, doing what we do. It was a flat feeling.”
Stokes said the mood has now changed to wanting to finish a riveting series on a high and make sure Australia does not depart with a first series win in England since 2001.
“Putting the shirt on, walking out to represent my country, that’s all the emotion I need,” said Stokes.
“Everyone’s very aligned in terms of what we want to do. And I’m not someone who speaks for the sake of speaking. If I feel I need to say something then I will but I don’t think I need to this week, it’s pretty obvious what we need to go out and do,” he added.
Stokes backs Anderson, Broad
England will be unchanged for the fifth test, meaning 37-year-old fast bowler Stuart Broad will have played in all five Tests and strike partner James Anderson, who turns 41 during the Test, will retain his place despite a lean series.
“He’s put in some incredible performances throughout the Tests but he’s also been very good at coming on with the ball and changing the game, which is which is something he’s done throughout his whole career,” Stokes said of Broad.
While Broad is the top wicket-taker in the series with 18, Anderson, the most successful fast bowler in Test history, has struggled and has only managed four at an average of 76.
Anderson has made it clear he wants to continue his Test career, even when others say he is on the wane.
Stokes has no doubt he still has plenty to offer.
“He’s not probably had the impact and the wickets he would have liked in the series,” Stokes said. “Jimmy’s come in for flack for that, but if Joe (Root) hadn’t scored the runs he would have liked he wouldn’t be questioned.
“James Anderson is the greatest fast bowler to play the game and he’s still looking as good as he was two years ago.”
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