Yorkshire can help us to win back the Ashes - Ben Stokes

BEN STOKES is backing Yorkshire’s B-Boys to kickstart England’s Ashes revival.

The England Test captain believes that Harry Brook and Jonny Bairstow can seize the series by the scruff of the neck when the third Test starts at Headingley on Thursday.

Stokes has invested both players with greater responsibility as England look to hit back from 2-0 down, promoting Brook to No 3 and Bairstow to No 5 in the absence of stricken vice-captain Ollie Pope.

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With Joe Root staying at his favoured No 4, it means that the engine room of England’s batting was built in the Broad Acres as “Bazball” faces its stiffest test yet.

Ben Stokes heads to the nets at Headingley on Wednesday. Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images.Ben Stokes heads to the nets at Headingley on Wednesday. Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images.
Ben Stokes heads to the nets at Headingley on Wednesday. Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images.

“When you’ve got a player like ‘Brooky’, you feel he can slot in at any position,” said Stokes, with the hosts recalling spinner Moeen Ali following injury along with Mark Wood and Chris Woakes, who replace the rested James Anderson and Josh Tongue.

“We’ve seen the unbelievable start to ‘Brooky’s’ international career, and I know that’s been at No 5, but last summer, when he was sort of the next batter in line, we had complete confidence that he could slot into our line-up in any position.

“He’s technically gifted and can bat anywhere, and we feel that he’s the type of player who will just take the responsibility and crack on with it. He is someone who takes everything in his stride.

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“With Jonny, moving up to No 5 was just to get him into the game earlier. That’s where he performed his miracles last summer, and Jonny is someone who wants to get into the game and we feel he offers his best to the team when he is in the game.

“He’s a superstar, and the quicker you can get him into the game, particularly with the bat, the better.

“We’re all devastated for ‘Popey’ - he’s been a huge part of what we’ve managed to achieve over the last 18 months - and we wanted to keep Joe at No 4 because he’s a remarkable player.”

Root scored 118 not out in the first innings of the first Test at Edgbaston and, with Brook, joint top-scored in the second innings with 46 as England fell to a two-wicket defeat.

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Bairstow hit 78 in the first innings of that match but has since made 20, 16 and 10, with Root’s other scores in the series 10 and 18 and Brook’s 32, 50 and 4.

Following the 43-run defeat at Lord’s, England must prevail in Leeds to keep the Ashes alive as holders Australia would retain the urn with a win or a draw. The tourists have yet to name their final XI but Todd Murphy will replace fellow spinner Nathan Lyon (calf).

“The Ashes is obviously over if things don’t go well, but we understand where we’re at in the series and we know what we need to do,” added Stokes.

“It may sound daft, but we find ourselves in actually the sort of perfect situation for what we have been speaking about as a group in the dressing room, about what we want to do and how we want to go about it.

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“This is the moment – it starts here at Headingley – and we know that we’ve got to win this game.

"Some people might see that as pressure, whereas myself and the rest of the team see it as a massive opportunity.”