Sport Cricket The Ashes 2019: The ‘really honest’ team session that could lift Australia to Ashes glory
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The Ashes 2019: The ‘really honest’ team session that could lift Australia to Ashes glory

Australia is hoping self-examination will aid a repeat of the first Test victory over England. Photo: Getty
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Australia has another chance to retain the Ashes this week but much will depend on the $64 million question: has it recovered?

The tourists were one agonising wicket from retaining cricket’s famous urn in Leeds until the miracle of Ben Stokes played out in front of an astonished crowd.

With two Tests to play, the series is locked at 1-1, but England now has all the momentum after snatching victory from the jaws of defeat in a result that left Australia coach Justin Langer feeling “physically sick”.

Australia has had more than a week to stew over the defeat ahead of the fourth Test, which begins at Manchester’s Old Trafford on Wednesday evening (AEST).

And in the build-up, captain Tim Paine opened up in a difficult video session held the morning after Stokes’ incredible display.

“I think it’s crucial you do that as a team, that you sit down and look at periods of play like that and you talk openly and honestly about where we can get better,” Paine said.

“We were really honest with each other.

“Guys who had to look at some pretty ordinary stuff copped it on the chin and realised that it’s coming from a good place and a place where we want everyone to really improve.

“We have learned some valuable lessons from the last Test match.”

The best way of bouncing back, of course, would be to record an important victory – and a fast start seems essential in front of what is sure to be another passionate, noisy home crowd.

There will be a change in the middle, with the International Cricket Council (ICC) stepping in to alter umpiring appointments that were initially made before the series started.

Kumar Dharmasena and Marais Erasmus, both on the ICC’s ‘Elite Panel’ of umpires, will officiate the fourth and fifth Tests. The series has, so far, been marred by consistent umpire errors.

What will the teams look like?

Usman Khawaja has been dropped by Australia, while paceman James Pattinson has been rested.

Steve Smith will return, thankfully, from concussion for Australia to take Khawaja’s place, with the battle to step in for Pattinson between Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle.

steve smith scott morrison
Fully recovered from the rising ball that knocked him silly, Steve Smith is ready to take the crease. Photo: AAP

Starc took seven wickets in a tour match at Derbyshire to push his claims, but Siddle, who also missed out in Leeds, is fit and raring to go.

What is set in stone is England’s change at the top of the order – Joe Denly coming up from No.4 to swap places with Jason Roy.

Chris Woakes has been left out, too, replaced by Craig Overton. The 25-year-old has played just three Tests, two of them against Australia in the 2017/18 Ashes.

Jimmy Anderson has been ruled out of the series after suffering another setback with his troublesome right calf.

What do the stats suggest?

England has not won an Ashes Test at Old Trafford since 1981.

The six Tests since have finished in three Australia wins and three draws.

The overall ledger is 7-7, with more draws (15) than actual results in Ashes history.

Will it rain?

In Manchester, the answer to that question is almost always ‘Yes’.

The forecast isn’t too bad, though, with rain most likely to hit on day three.

Some rain on day one and two is also a chance, but while temperatures are unlikely to clear 18°C during the Test, weather should not play a major part in the outcome.

Any word on the pitch?

Another dry wicket that spins, particularly late in the Test, is expected. That could really bring Nathan Lyon into the game.

How do I follow the Test?

Television coverage of the fourth Test from Manchester begins at 7.30pm (AEST) on each night of play and will be shown on the Nine Network’s main channel or GEM.

You can also stream the cricket on 9Now and watch on any device.

Audio coverage is available through ABC Radio and The New Daily will provide a full review of each day’s play in your morning newsletter.

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