Out-of-form Bairstow retained in England’s squad for fourth Ashes Test

Despite speculation and debates over the potential replacement of Jonny Bairstow with Ben Foakes, England has decided to stick with the former as their wicketkeeper-batsman for the upcoming fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford. The unchanged 14-man squad, as announced by the England Cricket Board, includes Ollie Robinson, who suffered a back spasm but remains in contention for the match.

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Bairstow’s place in the team has remained under scrutiny after a somewhat lacklustre performance following his return from injury. Aside from his resilient knock of 78 in the first Test, his performance behind the stumps and the bat has dwindled. He dropped catches, missed stumpings, and has not impressed with the bat.

Interestingly, Bairstow has been embroiled in various controversies this series, including carrying a protestor off the field, being involved in a disputed stumping incident, and for his tame send-off of Australia’s Steve Smith. Ben Foakes, dropped to accommodate Bairstow after his injury, is considered a better wicketkeeper but is considered less effective with the bat. Bairstow’s impressive record of six centuries in 2022 before his injury is likely what has solidified his place in the squad.

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England is expected to maintain the same team balance employed in the previous Test at Headingley. Ollie Robinson, who suffered a back spasm, may be replaced by veteran James Anderson. Alternatively, pacer Josh Tongue could replace Robinson. Chris Woakes and Mark Wood, who made a significant impact in the previous Test at Headingley, are expected to retain their spots in the team. Stuart Broad, the leading wicket-taker in the series, will be part of the playing XI.

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England’s dilemma is with the first drop batsman. Harry Brook was promoted to number 3 for the Headingley Test, before Moeen Ali took his position in the second innings. Dropping to number 5, Brook delivered a match-winning knock of 75. Dan Lawrence is also part of the squad. However, his place in the first XI would depend on Stokes’s physical condition.

England and Australia play the fourth Ashes Test in Manchester on Wednesday. The final match of the series will take place at the Oval starting July 27.

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England’s squad for fourth Ashes Test

Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Harry Brook, Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Dan Lawrence, Ollie Robinson, Joe Root, Josh Tongue, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

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