Ali, Wood, Woakes return to England’s playing XI in third Ashes Test against Australia

England have made a few changes to their lineup for the third Ashes 2023 Test at Headingley. Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, and Moeen Ali have been included in the playing XI. They replace James Anderson, Josh Tongue, and the injured Ollie Pope as England look to recover from a 2-0 deficit in the five-match Ashes series.

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According to the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), Anderson (who took three wickets in two matches) and Tongue (who claimed five wickets in the Lord’s Test) have been rested. Additionally, Pope is ruled out for the remainder of the series due to a dislocated right shoulder suffered in the second Test, where England lost by 43 runs.

In Pope’s absence, Harry Brook has been promoted to the number three position, while Jonny Bairstow will bat at number five. The inclusion of Woakes and Ali provides a significant boost to England’s lower-order batting.

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The upcoming Headingley Test marks Woakes’ first appearance in the longest format of the game under the coaching of Brendon McCullum. Woakes last played a Test match against West Indies in March 2022, and his last home Test match was in September 2021.

On the other hand, Wood played two Tests during England’s successful 3-0 tour of Pakistan in December 2022 but hasn’t participated in a first-class match since then. Although Wood was considered for the Lord’s Test, concerns about his bowling workload prevented him from featuring then.

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Wood’s most recent competitive cricket outing was in April, when he represented Lucknow Super Giants in the IPL 2023. Ali, on the other hand, is back in action after missing the second Test at Lord’s due to blisters on his right index finger. The off-spin all-rounder is just two wickets away from reaching the milestone of 200 Test wickets.

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