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England vs Australia fourth Test, Old Trafford selection news, David Warner, Mitchell Marsh, Todd Murphy, video, cricket

Australia started their 2023 Ashes campaign with a settled starting XI — but after last week’s three-wicket defeat at Headingley, there are question marks littered throughout its batting order.

Nathan Lyon’s injury, David Warner’s form and Mitchell Marsh’s resurgence have given the national selectors plenty of headaches ahead of the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford, which gets underway on Wednesday. However, early signs suggest that Australia won’t make any changes to its top six.

England has already named its starting XI for the Old Trafford Test, with veteran seamer James Anderson replacing Ollie Robinson as the lone change — Moeen Ali, somewhat controversially, has retained his spot at No. 3.

The Australians are one victory away from winning their first Ashes series on English soil since 2001, and Pat Cummins’ men will be desperate to get the job done in Manchester. Four years ago, Australia retained the coveted Ashes urn under dark skies at Old Trafford, and they have a chance to replicate the feat this week.

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Aussies ‘a bit too friendly’ with Poms? | 01:08

WARNER’S ‘JUST DONE ENOUGH’ TO AVOID AXE

Speculation about David Warner’s Test career resurfaced once again after his twin failures at Headingley, falling victim to Ashes nemesis Stuart Broad in both innings for 4 and 1.

The left-hander has scored one century in 40 Test knocks since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, while he has not scored an away Test hundred in nearly six years.

However, Warner’s batting has improved drastically from his previous Ashes tour — his solid performance at Lord’s, where he scored 66 and 25 in tricky conditions, should be enough for the 36-year-old to retain his spot, according to former Australian batter Mark Waugh.

“There’s too much water under the bridge to change the batting order now,” Waugh said on Fox Cricket.

“Admittedly he hasn’t had a lot go his way on this tour. He played really well at Lord’s in difficult conditions, he played well in the World Championship Test against India.

“I think he’s just done enough … it’s just going to be too much of a shuffle in the batting order if they leave him out now.”

Warner and Usman Khawaja have combined for three fifty-plus opening stands in the Ashes series to date, which is triple what England duo Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett have mustered.

“What I’d like to see is (Warner) be more aggressive; I don’t want to see him fending,” former Test wicketkeeper Brad Haddin continued.

“He needs to take the game on … if he gets out trying to move the game forward, so be it.”

Khawaja expects to open alongside Warner | 01:09

Marcus Harris, the reserve opener in Australia’s Test squad, also struggled during the 2019 Ashes tour, but boasts an impressive County Championship batting record, averaging 45.83 from 52 innings with nine centuries.

However, the Victorian declared he was happy to bide his time for another opportunity in Australian whites, arguing that Warner has “done well” in the series to date.

“Davey’s earned the right to pull the pin whenever he wants to pull the pin,” Harris told reporters this week.

“England’s not an easy place to open the batting and him and Uz have got us off to some good starts. So if I have to wait until then, so be it. But if something comes up earlier, I’m ready to go.”

Promoting one of Australia’s middle-order batters — Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh or Cameron Green — to open at Warner’s expense has also been floated as a possibility, but Harris cautioned against the outlandish move, which Green confessed was “a bit of a stretch”.

“In England and in Australia, the way the wickets have been the last couple of years, and New Zealand, those sorts of wickets, it’s more of a specialist position,” Harris said.

“You want your destructive players like Greeny or Mitch or Travis to be coming in against a bit more of an older ball.”

Warner retention not guaranteed | 01:42

INJURY SUB MARSH ‘HAS GOT TO PLAY’ IN MANCHESTER

Mitchell Marsh was supposed to be a temporary replacement for injured Cameron Green at Headingley last week, but the West Australia only needed one knock to throw the team hierarchy into disarray.

Marsh’s belligerent 118, which Waugh branded “one of the best Ashes hundreds of all time”, not only rescued Australia from a heavy first-innings deficit, but revived his Test career.

“Mitch Marsh has got to play (at Old Trafford),” Waugh continued.

“I don’t see how you can fit Green in.”

Injured Australian spinner Nathan Lyon continued: “He’s the heartbeat of the Australian touring team.

“You can the boys’ reaction when he scored that hundred, what he means to our squad.”

Marsh century saves Aus on day one | 03:06

Marsh boasts a superb record in Ashes contests, averaging 50.45 with the bat and 27.03 with the ball against England in Tests. He’s also the first Australian to take a five-wicket haul and score a century in Ashes Tests in England since the legendary Keith Miller.

Meanwhile, Green has failed to reach fifty in six Test knocks on this tour, posting 6, 25, 38, 28, 0 and 18 against India and England.

Green, who suffered a minor hamstring injury last week, has been the incumbent Test all-rounder since his international debut in late 2020, but Marsh’s Headingley heroics has put his spot at No. 6 under threat.

“Anyone would be happy to bat anywhere to play Test cricket,” Green told reporters this week.

“You always put your hand up for selection, but have to wait and see what selectors think.

“I kind of look up to Mitch, so I’m so happy to see him play well.

“There was no doubt in my mind that he was going to come back and play an incredible game, which he did. (I’m) so happy for him.

“We have a great relationship. We’re so happy for each other when one gets picked over the other.”

Marsh hard to drop after ton in 3rd test | 02:10

HAVE AUSSIES ‘LOST A LITTLE BIT OF TRUST’ IN MURPHY?

It has been 118 matches since Australia didn’t pick a strike spinner in its Test side, but that 12-year drought could be broken at Old Trafford this week.

Nathan Lyon played a hundred consecutive Tests before his untimely injury during the Lord’s contest, opening the door for heir apparent Todd Murphy to make his Ashes debut at Headingley.

However, the young Victorian was hardly called upon during the three-wicket defeat, bowling just two one-over spells in the fourth innings when spinners are traditionally most effective.

Australian captain Pat Cummins explained that Murphy’s snub was purely conditions based, with the day four Headingley pitch favouring seamers — but Haddin was unconvinced.

“Maybe they haven’t got the confidence to go to him when he’s by himself,” Haddin said.

“This is a different beast for Murphy, and it looked like they just lost a little bit of trust in him.”

England claim 3rd test,keep series alive | 05:04

Australian selectors could be tempted to sideline Murphy for the fourth Ashes Test in favour of an additional all-rounder, potentially Michael Neser or Cameron Green.

Spin bowlers have averaged 42.46 at Old Trafford over the past decade, compared to 26.98 for seamers, while the lingering threat of rain in Manchester this week adds to the selection dilemma.

Conditions on Wednesday and Thursday — days one and two — are expected to be reasonable, but there’s a strong chance of rain as the match progresses towards the weekend.

“If I was Australia, I wouldn’t play the spinner,” former England captain Michael Vaughan told Fox Cricket.

“I think it’s quite a simple selection if I was looking at it from an Australian point of view.”

Waugh continued: “It’s a tough call to leave out a spinner, but if there’s a bit of rain around and they’re not going to bowl him much, the call might be to leave him out.”

However, speaking to reporters last week, Australian coach Andrew McDonald hinted the visitors would persist with Murphy.

“We like to have a balanced attack, and it gives you options, you can take pace out of the game, and you become one-dimensional – whether it be with the right-arm bowlers or just pace bowlers in general – without the ability to turn to a spinner,” McDonald said.

“I think that leaves you a bit short at times.”

No room for Murphy after Marsh heroics? | 01:18

INJURY-PRONE HAZLEWOOD UNFAZED BY THREE-DAY BREAK

After being rested for last week’s Headingley fixture, Josh Hazlewood is expected to return to Australia’s starting XI for the fourth Ashes Test at the expense of Scott Boland.

National selectors have been reluctant to pick the injury-prone Hazlewood for back-to-back matches, subsequently rotating Australia’s quicks throughout the tour. However, Hazlewood has declared his intent to play both of the final two Tests, despite the short three-day break between them.

“Missing Headingley is probably the reason to set me up for the last two games. I know they’re back-to-back, but we haven’t bowled a lot of overs,” Hazlewood told reporters on Monday.

“Hopefully with that work behind me now, I’m in a better position than I was a month ago. That sort of puts me in a good place to hopefully get through those last two games and play my role and do what I usually do.”

Hazlewood backs himself for final Tests | 00:58

Boland, who enjoyed a breakout Ashes campaign in Australia 18 months ago, is unlikely to make another appearance on this tour after underwhelming performances at Edgbaston at Headingley. The Victorian only dismissed one England player across four innings — opener Zak Crawley.

“Boland’s been found out a little bit in those conditions,” Haddin explained on Fox Sports’ The Back Page last week.

“England have gone after him.”

It opens the door for Michael Neser to potentially sneak into Australia’s starting XI for the fifth Ashes Test, pending player fitness and team balance.

The Queenslander, who initially missed out on Ashes selection, was released from Australia’s Ashes camp to play Glamorgan’s County Championship match against Leicestershire in Cardiff – and the 33-year-old didn’t waste the opportunity to push his case for selection.

Neser plundered a career-best 176 not out at Sophia Gardens, slapping 25 boundaries and two sixes against Leicestershire’s fatigued bowlers. It was Neser’s second-consecutive County Championship century, having scored 123 during his previous first-class match in May.

The bowling all-rounder currently averages 81.16 with the bat in the County Championship, including two centuries and two fifties in seven innings. He has also taken 20 wickets at 26.15 for Glamorgan, headlined by a dazzling hat-trick against Yorkshire in May, where he claimed career-best figures of 7-32.

Time for a callup? Neser tons up again! | 01:36

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