‘It might bring more out of us’ – Stokes and England hope to beat the weather

Ben Stokes says England must shift up a gear to beat both Australia and the weather to keep their Ashes hopes alive with significant rain forecast throughout the fourth Test.

After Australia won the first two matches, victory in the third Test at Headingley got England back into the series, with the squad arriving into Manchester buoyant they could square the series here to set up a decider at the Kia Oval next week.

However, the persistent rain that greeted their arrival on Sunday will continue into the weekend. Showers of varying degrees are expected throughout all five days of the Test, which begins on Wednesday at Emirates Old Trafford.

As captain, Stokes has been reticent to pay too much attention to forecasts, though England do keep an eye on the radar in the changing room in case they need to shift their approach during play. With Australia able to retain the urn with a draw here, the onus is on Stokes to try and squeeze a result out of however much play is possible if England are to prolong their hopes of a first Ashes win since 2015.

“You never want to look too much into the weather but in the position we find ourselves in we might have to,” Stokes admitted. “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 we were 2-0 down and knew we had to win that, so think that helped us a bit and maybe again with the weather that’s predicted that it might bring more out of us again knowing we might have to push the game on even more than we normally. But we’ll just have to wait and see. If the weather is what it’s predicted to be then we might have to.”

While he stopped short of declaring England will be more attacking than normal, the speed of play throughout this series has been conducive to quick results. The third Test, for example, which the hosts won by three wickets, lasted 230.2 overs – essentially, under eight sessions of play, with the match concluding on day four through a combination of wet weather and slow over rates.

Last summer, England were able to beat South Africa twice within three days. The first came in Manchester by an innings and 85 runs, before a nine-wicket win in the decider at the Kia Oval. No play took place on the first two days following the passing of Queen Elizabeth, with the match officially getting underway on day three.

This is also not the first time Stokes has considered getting funky to combat unhelpful conditions. During the Pakistan series last December, he posited the idea of forfeiting an innings when it looked like early morning smog in Multan would reduce each day’s play of the second Test. Though it did not come to pass, it is something England could employ here provided they bat first for a sizeable score.

Though Australia can play this match and the weather straight, Pat Cummins has stated they will begin this Test focussed on victory as they seek a first overseas Ashes series win since 2001.

“The first preference is always to try to win,” Cummins said. “We drew the 2019 series and we’ve all come back pretty clear we want to win this one. I think it’s one of things, as the game progresses you maybe start working out how risky you want to be, but looking at the forecast it looks like it’s okay so sure we’ll get a match in.

And while Australia do not need to engage with anything England try and concoct, Cummins is excited to see what Stokes has in store.

“It would be fun. Prepared for anything, really. We’ll see how it plays out. We have already seen a lot of different things from both teams this series. I’m sure this one will be another cracker with some random stuff thrown up.”

#bring #Stokes #England #hope #beat #weather