Mark Wood will continue to have his fitness monitored by England’s medical and coaching staff before Thursday’s fourth Ashes Test, after getting through two bowling sessions at Trent Bridge on Monday following a painkilling injection to his left ankle.
The Durham fast bowler was replaced by Steven Finn for the eight-wicket win over Australia at Edgbaston – a result that saw England take a 2-1 series lead with two Tests to play – amid concerns over the 25-year-old’s workload and longstanding discomfort in the joint.
The attack leader, Jimmy Anderson, has been ruled out of the fourth Test because of a side strain suffered in Birmingham, and Wood is the preferred choice among the coaching staff to step into the breach and has been tipped by the head coach, Trevor Bayliss, to share the new ball with Stuart Broad.
The England squad used their scheduled day off on Monday for batting practice, gym work and a game of football at the training ground of neighbouring club Nottingham Forest in the evening. Wood had two sessions with the bowling coach, Ottis Gibson, following a pain jab understood to have been delivered last week.
No ill-effects were reported, although Yorkshire’s Liam Plunkett, whose last Test came against India at Lord’s 12 months ago, and the uncapped Derbyshire left-armer Mark Footitt are on standby should Wood suffer any problems during two further days of practice this week.
Darren Lehmann, meanwhile, has admitted batsman Shaun Marsh is pushing hard to be selected for Australia, although where he fits in is up for debate. Adam Voges, the struggling No 5 who has been tipped to be replaced, was seen training in his usual first-slip position on Monday. Marsh, the 32-year-old left-hander, who played as an opener on their recent tour of the Caribbean as Chris Rogers missed two Tests through concussion, scored two centuries in Australia’s tour matches against Kent and Derbyshire.
‘You don’t like to change too much. This side beat England by 400 runs [in the second Test at Lord’s],’ Lehmann told Adelaide radio station 5AA. ‘Marsh is knocking the door down hard, isn’t he? He was very good in the West Indies for us when he came in for Rogers. He got 70-odd in one of the Tests.’ – The Guardian
HAZLEWOOD TO GET THE DROP?
Australia could drop the leading wicket-taker in this Ashes series, Josh Hazlewood, so Trent Bridge specialist Peter Siddle can stiffen their attack for the fourth Test.
It seems a dramatic move but there is a precedent: England’s bold decision to axe Steven Finn during the 2010-11 Ashes, which proved stunningly successful.
Siddle took eight wickets in his previous Test appearance in Nottingham, and as his home county ground for the past two seasons he bowled accordingly with 24 wickets at 24.43 in five matches. But it is his proficiency at drying up scoring, rather than his wicket-taking ability, which could see him preferred to Hazlewood.
Mitchell Starc has been more expensive than Hazlewood, but in their current form Australia need Starc, given the regularity at which he delivers wicket balls, such as the unplayable one in the second innings that grazed Alastair Cook’s off-stump. For them to win the last two Tests, the left-armer will be crucial. They just need bowlers around him who can make up for his poor economy rate. – Sydney Morning Herald