5 talking points ahead of the third Ashes Test at Headingley
Jason Roy must pass a concussion test.
England and Australia go head to head again just four days after the nerve-racking draw at Lord’s, with the tourists 1-0 up going into the third Ashes Test.
Here the PA news agency looks at the key areas of interest.
A star is withdrawn
Twenty-two players will do battle in Leeds but many of them will be lucky if they command the same level of interest as one who has been restricted to a watching brief. In making 144, 142 and 92 in his first three innings of the series, Steve Smith has increasingly been seen as the difference between the sides – a theory that will now be tested. Marnus Labuschagne stepped up as his concussion substitute at Lord’s, David Warner will want to emerge from his poor form as the senior batsman and Tim Paine has the chance to reassert himself with a captain’s performance. How well they emerge from Smith’s shadow could hold the key.
Archer at the double
Few Test debuts in recent times have created quite as much buzz as Jofra Archer’s bow and the level of expectation around the Sussex paceman will go through the roof this week. England believe he is temperamentally suited to the spotlight, happier playing Fortnite in his hotel room than cranking up the hype machine, but he must also be managed well. Joe Root’s captaincy could be crucial – how and when he is used – while well-travelled campaigners like Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes have been around long enough to offer a cricketing sounding board. Steer his talent properly and he could have another spectacular week.
Spotlight on Roy
Before his name even makes the team sheet, Jason Roy must pass a concussion test after being hit on the helmet in training. If he does, that will just be the start of his job. He will take the crease with just 45 runs in five innings as a Test opener and a hungry pack of Australian bowlers eager to keep him down. Add to that head coach Trevor Bayliss’ suggestion that he sees the Surrey man as better suited to the middle order and the pressure is surely building. In white-ball cricket, Roy frequently hits his way out of trouble…will he do the same this time?
Heading back to Headingley
After a decade away, Ashes cricket is back in Yorkshire and the ticket-buying public have responded by selling out the first four days. England’s recent record at the famous old venue is not stellar, winning just three of their last nine Tests here – including an innings loss in Australia’s last visit in 2009 – but with the new Emerald Stand in place and a local favourite, Root, captaining his country this could be a fresh start.
Don’t play it again Sam?
Sam Curran was kept on the sidelines for the first two matches and his only prospect of playing in Leeds appears to be if England decide Chris Woakes needs a rest. That might seem harsh on the talented all-rounder, who has proved a mature performer with bat in hand and offers a point of difference as a left-arm swing bowler. He was also man of the series against India last summer and must be wondering why he is kicking his heels. With eight wins in his first 10 Tests, England may soon decide they need their lucky charm again.