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Broad returns as England confirm XI for SCG Test

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England have resisted making changes to their struggling batting line-up but will be without seamer Ollie Robinson, their leading wicket-taker in the Vodafone Ashes so far, for the fourth Test in Sydney.

Assistant coach Graham Thorpe today confirmed that both Robinson, who has taken nine wickets at 26 for the series so far, and Chris Woakes have been nursing shoulder niggles going into the New Year’s Test at the SCG.

That has opened the door for Stuart Broad to come back into the side to bolster an attack also featuring Mark Wood, Jimmy Anderson and spinner Jack Leach.

“We felt like it was too much of a risk to go in with a couple of lads who are carrying niggles,” Thorpe said.

“So therefore, it was right to bring Stuart back in.”

Broad’s return comes after he expressed his frustration at being overlooked for the Brisbane and Melbourne Tests on pitches he believed would have suited his bowling, a selection that Australia’s Steve Smith conceded this week had surprised him.

“As a wobble-seam bowler, I feel as though I missed out on two of the best wobble-seam pitches in Australia,” Broad wrote in the Daily Mail on Sunday.

“Only playing once has made this a very disappointing trip, one that has not met my personal expectations.

“The biggest frustration is losing the Ashes, being 3-0 down and feeling like I’ve not really done anything. Not being able, as an experienced player, to influence a series while it’s live is tough.

“I would argue that I won’t get a better chance to take wickets than at Brisbane and Melbourne.”

Cummins said today he expects the SCG pitch to be far less conducive to seam bowling than the MCG was last week.

“We’re not going to blast them out. There’s a little bit of grass on it but traditionally it’s hard work and goes five days,” he said.

England have decided against making any changes to the batting line-up that was bowled out for just 68 at the MCG last week.

Skipper Joe Root and No.3 Dawid Malan are the only frontline England batters averaging more than 20 in the series so far.

With Rory Burns and Ollie Pope already dropped from the side following the second Test in Adelaide, Dan Lawrence is the only frontline batter in the squad who is yet to play in this series.

Thorpe said both Broad and vice-captain Ben Stokes, who is averaging 16.83 with the bat and has taken just four wickets at 62.25, have points to prove at the SCG, labelling them “caged tigers”.

Australia named their XI this morning, with skipper Pat Cummins confirming Usman Khawaja will return in place of Travis Head, who has tested positive to COVID-19.

The rest of Australia’s side remains unchanged.

Australia XI: Marcus Harris, David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Usman Khawaja, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins (c), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland

England XI: Haseeb Hameed, Zak Crawley, Dawid Malan, Joe Root (c), Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Mark Wood, Jack Leach, Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson

Vodafone Men’s Ashes

Squads

Australia: Pat Cummins (c), Steve Smith (vc), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Nic Maddinson, Michael Neser, Jhye Richardson, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner

England: Joe Root (c), James Anderson, Jonathan Bairstow, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Haseeb Hameed, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood

Schedule

First Test: Australia won by nine wickets

Second Test: Australia won by 275 runs

Third Test: Australia won by an innings and 14 runs

Fourth Test: January 5-9, SCG

Fifth Test: January 14-18, Blundstone Arena


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