• Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Ashes: ‘Caged tigers’ Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes backed for Sydney success as England foster siege mentality

·3-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

England’s acting head coach Graham Thorpe believes he has a “a couple of caged tigers” in the subdued Ben Stokes and recalled Stuart Broad for tonight’s Fourth Ashes Test at the SCG.

England are 3-0 down in the series, having been thrashed in every match, and have suffered a significant outbreak of Covid-19 that will see them without four members of backroom staff – including head coach Chris Silverwood – creating a rather ramshackle week of training, and something of a siege mentality.

England announced their team after receiving another round of negative Covid tests – their seventh in eight days – and made a single change, with Broad recalled for Ollie Robinson, the only bowler to play the first three Tests of the series. Robinson and Chris Woakes are carrying shoulder “niggles”.

Thorpe, who has stepped up in Silverwood’s absence, said the isolating head coach had been “kept in the loop” and helped pick the team.

Stokes has had a poor series so far, averaging 16 with the bat and 62 with the ball, since returning from a long layoff to manage a serious finger injury and his mental health. Broad, meanwhile, has made plain his displeasure at being left out on bowler-friendly surfaces in Brisbane and Melbourne. Having played in Adelaide, this is his second appearance of the series.

“I hope I’ve a couple of caged tigers coming into this match,” said Thorpe. “Ben being one and Stuart Broad another. Getting guys into the right frame of mind is important. They’ll want to put in a performance for themselves and the team. That’s been our focus in the last couple of days.

“Seeing them in training, that’s what I’m seeing. Guys who want to put in performances. That’s my way of framing it. That’s how I see them. It’s a wonderful cricket ground to play at. To have that fight and competitiveness is going to be very important this week."

Thorpe said he had “encouraged the players to go to the beach and have a swim” and describing the nature of the training sessions under his lead, added: “I’ve had to let them off a little bit. Enjoy what they’re doing. Have fun. Get that tension out of the body. But at the same time, get focus for day one.

“There is an opportunity this week for our team and our players as individuals. Some are trying to establish themselves. That’s an opportunity. Some are trying to stay in the team. That’s also an opportunity. Get their minds absolutely right. I feel they’re in a good place. I feel they’re up for this match."

There is just one change for Australia too, with Travis Head – laid low by Covid – replaced by the experienced Usman Khawaja, who has not played Test cricket since the 2019 Ashes.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

That means there is no return for Josh Hazlewood or Jhye Richardson, who are “not quite 100 per cent” having been missing with injury, or debut for leg spinner Mitchell Swepson. Scott Boland, who made such a stunning debut in Melbourne (taking six for seven in England’s second innings 68 all out), wins his second cap.

Poor weather is forecast in Sydney this week, while the surface is expected to play true, with its appearance becoming lighter with each passing day.

“I think this wicket, you’re not going to blast them out,” said Australia skipper Pat Cummins, whose home ground is the SCG. “There’s a little bit of grass on it but traditionally it’s hard work. It goes five days and you need that really physical and stump to stump bowler and that’s what Scotty brings to the table.”

A bruising series for England is due to conclude in a Hobart day-nighter from January 14.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting