Cricket-Rain can be an ally for England, says Stokes ahead of decisive fourth Ashes test

(Reuters) – The weather forecast for the fourth and decisive Ashes test hints at potential delays, but England captain Ben Stokes on Tuesday said the looming rain clouds will be an advantage as his side are ready to play an even more aggressive brand of cricket.

The fourth test begins on Wednesday at Manchester, where England must win to level the series. Australia lead the series 2-1, and even a draw would see them retain the urn.

A superb 75 from Harry Brook and some big hitting from tailender Mark Wood earned England a pulsating three-wicket victory in the third test, dragging the hosts back into contention.

“It helped us in the last game knowing that we had to press the game on to stay in the series,” Stokes told reporters.

“If the weather does look like it’s going to have an affect on the time in the game, it probably suits us even more because we know what we need to do.

“We can’t just go hopefully, we have to look to press this game on. Everyone understands we will potentially be looking to press this game on even more if the weather is what it’s predicted to be.”

England have made one change to their team for the fourth test, with fast bowler James Anderson replacing Ollie Robinson in the side that won at Headingley.

The 40-year-old Anderson, who is England’s leading wicket-taker in tests (688), was rested after he struggled to make an impact in the series with just three wickets in the first two matches.

“I’ve got no doubt that at some point this week Jimmy Anderson will be very crucial for us,” Stokes said.

“When you’re a world-class performer for such a long period of time, you can understand the frustration for him that he has not felt like he has contributed.

“He’s not taken nearly 700 wickets without going through two games of not feeling at his best. World-class performers bounce back and deliver.”

Stokes said if they win and the series goes down to the wire, it has got the potential to be one of the best Ashes in a long time.

“Overall, take away Australia and England, the cricket that’s been played has been absolutely brilliant. Everyone who’s watched at the ground or at home on TV has just really enjoyed the cricket that’s been played,” he said.

“There’ve been some pretty special moments out on the cricket ground, some special individual performances as well. I guess that’s what you want from sport.”

(Reporting by Pearl Josephine Nazare in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)