England Test captain Ben Stokes said that the team spirit will be the same even if they lose the third Ashes Test. However, England are under the pump following defeats in the first two matches at Edgbaston and Lord’s as well. England were competitive enough in both matches, but they failed to win despite putting up an intense battle. With another loss in Leeds, they would concede the Ashes urn to Australia for the fourth time in a row as well.
Speaking in a press conference ahead of the third Test, Stokes said: “I don’t know if we want to say it but the Ashes is obviously over if things don’t go well – but the team isn’t over. This is the moment. It starts here at Headingley and we’ve got to win this game. We’ve got to keep looking to press the game on.”
He continued: “He’s (Harry Brook) technically very gifted and players like that you feel can bat anywhere. We want to keep Joe at four because he’s a remarkable player, and moving Jonny to five was just to get him into the game earlier. The things he did last summer in our No 5 position are quite hard to look past. He (Jonny Bairstow) was batting in the nets and I just walked up to him and said: ‘You’re batting five’. As for Brook: “I actually told him in the nets when he was batting. As soon as I said he’s batting three, he said to Jeets [the spin-bowling coach Jeetan Patel]: ‘Ah, can I have a new ball please?’ He gets it and just cracks on.”
Meanwhile, England all-rounder Moeen Ali, who sustained a finger injury, returned to the team in Leeds. Stokes, who bowled a total of 15 overs at Lord’s, was relieved from the pressure to bowl in the upcoming game.
He said: “That last week took it out of me a little bit. “So I had to think: ‘What would be the best team if I wasn’t to bowl a ball in this game? Now I don’t feel as if I’m under too much pressure to bowl.”