Australia are still considering their options at the top of the order ahead of the fourth Ashes Test against England, says chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns.

The tourists were pegged back in the third match at Headingley as Ben Stokes' history-making innings levelled the series at 1-1 heading into the fourth Test at Old Trafford.

Australia had already been forced into changes in their batting line-up due to Steve Smith's absence with concussion, while opener Cameron Bancroft was dropped in Leeds following a tough start to the series.

Smith will come back in for the next match but it appears unlikely he will be the only returning face, although Marnus Labuschagne will likely be retained after impressing in the former captain's absence.

A tour match victory over Derbyshire - secured on Saturday by an innings and 54 runs - increased Australia's options as Mitchell Marsh, batting at number three, made 74.

Hohns said: "This game has given us a lot more options. We'll get to Manchester, hopefully have a look at the pitch, and go through what options we do have - and they are plenty.

"There are a couple of headaches there, but nice headaches, of course, and the important thing is that we come up with a balanced team now to win this next Test match.

"The area up the top is not so much concerning but it's been difficult for both teams at the top of the order. That's an area we'll certainly be looking at.

"Mitchell Marsh has given us a good option today. All players are in contention."

Matthew Wade would appear to be at risk, having failed to build on his 110 in the Ashes opener at Edgbaston with three single-figure dismissals since.

"He played very well that innings he made a hundred," Hohns said. "Unfortunately things have not quite gone his way since then. That will certainly be an area we are having a look at."

Labuschagne is also a "prime contender", Hohns acknowledged, having impressed since becoming Smith's concussion substitute and making history in the process.

The selector would not rule out bowling changes either, even if Nathan Lyon is "no doubt at all" after giving Australia a scare by twisting his ankle in a training game of touch rugby.

Mitchell Starc – who took 3-46 and 4-39 against Derbyshire - is an obvious candidate to come into the side having sat out the first three Tests, with Hohns adding: "He's certainly given us a good option there.

"We'll have a look at the pitch, of course, and we have heard that it is renowned for being possibly the quickest in the country. That will all be taken into account.

"Right from the start of the tour it was made very clear what was expected of our bowlers and where we wanted them to bowl.

"Mitchell has taken all that on board and he was worked very, very hard to improve his game in that area.

"We all know he is an aggressor, so we can't expect him to change the way he bowls too much. But he is doing everything he possibly can to bowl in the right areas and the right channels."

Derbyshire started Saturday's play on 53-3 and were skittled for 112, with Marsh (2-5) and Peter Siddle (2-21) joining Starc in the wickets.

Steve Smith and Matthew Wade made sensational centuries as Australia took charge on the fourth day of the first Ashes Test and left England toiling at Edgbaston.

Former skipper Smith was once again the scourge of England with his sublime 142 seeing him become just the third Australian to make centuries in each innings of an away Ashes Test.

Stands of 130 and 126 with Travis Head (51) and Wade (110) saw Australia completely turn the tide of an enthralling opening contest, which England now can only realistically hope to draw.

The brilliance of Smith, who played with the ease of a man practicing in the nets, and Wade – who ended a wait for a Test century dating back to January 2013 – means an away win and an 18-year wait for an Australia victory at Edgbaston in any format is the likeliest outcome unless weather intervenes.

Australia declared on 487-7 to leave England, who were 13-0 at stumps, chasing a near-impossible 398 for victory and facing the daunting prospect of batting out a full day against the spin of Nathan Lyon on a deteriorating pitch.

Stuart Broad saw a couple of leg-before appeals against Head turned down and Smith found a gap in the field with a sliced, aerial cover drive on a morning of frustration for England.

Some hard running brought up their century stand, but Head's edge off Ben Stokes drew a sharp low catch from Jonny Bairstow.

Still Smith plugged away like the proverbial immoveable object and, having reached lunch on 98, quickly found the two runs he needed to bring up his century.

A couple of neat drives off the out-of-sorts Moeen Ali for boundaries preceded a desperate and woeful review against Smith on 125, with DRS showing the delivery was clearly doing too much.

Wade quietly punched his way to 50 off 70 balls before England finally made the crucial breakthrough by removing Smith, who clipped Chris Woakes behind with an attempted drive against the new ball.

It did little to stem the tide as Wade brought up three figures in the final session with a fine reverse sweep off the middle of the bat.

A pull straight to deep-backward square off Stokes finally ended Wade's knock and Tim Paine (34) - who passed 1,000 Test runs - was bowled through the gate by Moeen.

James Pattinson clubbed four sixes in an entertaining 48-ball 47 before Paine called the declaration.

Rory Burns and Jason Roy valiantly batted out the remaining seven overs in fading light, but a huge effort will be required if England are to avoid defeat in Birmingham.


SMITH TURNS THE TIDE AGAIN

How different things could be for England. Australia were 122-8 in the first innings before Smith's first century led the recovery. A first-innings lead of 90 may have been enough had it not been again for Smith's excellence, with Wade's knock also helping to hand the initiative to the visitors.


WADE MAKES HIS CASE

Wade's place in the Test side was questioned before the match and a score of one in the first innings did little to silence his doubters. But boy did Wade, who earned his spot by making 1021 runs in the 2018-19 Sheffield Shield, justify his place. With England so focused on Smith, Wade nonchalantly built his way to a three-figure score that was every bit as important as Smith's century.


MOMENT OF THE DAY

Smith could hardly have dreamed of a better return to the Test arena following his part in the ball-tampering scandal that rocked cricket. The incident will forever leave a stain on his legacy, but without his brilliance Australia would not be in this position. His century was reached with an exquisite lash through the covers off Broad, leading to a raise of the bat and an ear-to-ear grin.

Australia coach Justin Langer is confident Matthew Wade is "doing everything" to earn a recall to the Test fold for the Ashes.

Wade has not played for his country in any format for almost two years, yet he was called into their Cricket World Cup squad as a replacement for the injured Usman Khawaja.

And although the 31-year-old was unused in that tournament, he has scored three centuries in England in recent weeks - two for Australia A in List A fixtures and another for an XI in a first-class clash with England Lions.

Langer acknowledges Wade's hard work could yet be rewarded as he prepares to be involved in a clash between Australia and Australia A ahead of an announcement of the team for the first Ashes Test, which starts on August 1.

"There's a lot of talk about Wadey and his form, where he's batting and his wicketkeeping," Langer said. "He just keeps doing it. He's got three hundreds on this tour already - he's only batted six or seven times.

"He's doing everything we've asked of Australian cricketers. He's making runs, big runs, he's knocking that hard, he's got that look in his eye.

"Coming into a tough series like this, you like to see those fighting instincts. He's certainly banging very hard for selection."

Another man whose character was lauded by Langer on Monday was Tim Paine, who has retained the Test captaincy despite the return of previously suspended duo Steve Smith and David Warner.

"You talk about the toughest pretty boy I've met, he's very impressive," Langer said of Paine. "He's physically tough, helping to guide the boys through the past 12 months.

"To come back from almost not playing cricket to being Test captain says a lot about his character.

"I get on that well with him, we have a great relationship. I've always felt the relationship between the captain and coach is crucial - we're lucky to have a great relationship.

"He's very impressive and I know how focused and committed he is to this series, so I'm happy about that."

Australia won the toss and chose to bat first against England in Thursday's Cricket World Cup semi-final at Edgbaston.

The tournament hosts struggled badly when chasing against Aaron Finch's men during the group-stage defeat at Lord's, while they also showed frailties in failing to overhaul a moderate score in a shock loss to Sri Lanka at Headingley.

England captain Eoin Morgan confirmed his side was unchanged from the one that hammered New Zealand to seal a place in the semis, while Australia's sole alteration sees Peter Handscomb come in for the injured Usman Khawaja, as had been announced by head coach Justin Langer prior to the game.

There had been talk that Matthew Wade - called into the squad as Khawaja's replacement - may be selected ahead of Glenn Maxwell, but the all-rounder retained his place in the XI.

Not since 1992 have England gone this deep at the World Cup, while Australia are aiming to continue their perfect record in semi-finals, having progressed from all seven of their previous matches at this stage of the competition.

The victors will go through to Sunday's final at Lord's to face New Zealand, who sensationally defeated India at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Matthew Wade's place in Australia's Cricket World Cup squad as Usman Khawaja's replacement has been confirmed ahead of the semi-final with England at Edgbaston.

Khawaja's tournament was ended by a hamstring strain sustained in the final group game against South Africa and the defending champions had applied to the ICC for Wade to be brought in as his replacement.

The formalities for Wade's inclusion were completed on Wednesday, a day before the Aussies meet hosts England in the second semi-final.

Coach Justin Langer has already confirmed Peter Handscomb will replace Khawaja in his XI for the clash with England.

Wade, 31, has been in fine form having scored two centuries for Australia A in England last month.

He has not played an ODI in two years but reports suggest he could also come straight into the team at Edgbaston, possibly at the expense of all-rounder Glenn Maxwell.

Usman Khawaja has been ruled out of Australia's Cricket World Cup semi-final showdown with hosts England on Thursday.

Khawaja and Marcus Stoinis had scans after suffering respective hamstring and side injuries in the defeat to South Africa at Old Trafford.

Matthew Wade and Mitchell Marsh were called up as cover from the A squad earlier on Sunday ahead of their four-day match with Sussex.

Australia coach Justin Langer is uncertain on Stoinis' chances of facing England at Edgbaston but says Khawaja's World Cup is at an end, with Wade to replace him in the squad once the necessary paperwork is completed.

"It's such a pity for [Khawaja], for someone who's been so integral to how we've been playing," he said. "Like Shaun [Marsh, who broke his arm on Thursday] I feel that sad for him that he's going to miss the World Cup semi-final.

"Matthew Wade is coming up, he's in great form, he's had a great 12 or 18 months back home but he also just scored two hundreds [for Australia A] so he's in great nick.

"Mitch Marsh is going to come on standby for Marcus Stoinis just to see how he comes up… If they have to come in they'll be ready to step up."

A new Big Bash League champion is guaranteed to be crowned on Sunday when Melbourne Stars face city rivals Melbourne Renegades in a much-anticipated final.

The Melbourne franchises are two of the three teams never to have won the competition, together with this term's regular-season table-toppers Hobart Hurricanes.

Ahead of the final at Docklands Stadium, we look at the best Opta facts relating to the contest.

 

- Three of the last four BBL finals have been won by the side batting second, with Perth Scorchers (2015 and 2017) and Sydney Thunder (2016) completing successful chases. However, Adelaide Strikers triumphed in last year's decider after batting first against the Hurricanes.

- The Scorchers are the only team to have won the BBL more than once, triumphing in 2014, 2015 and 2017. Prior to this season, in which they finished bottom of the table, they had never failed to make the semi-finals.

- The Stars have also made the last four on seven occasions, including this season, but five of their semi-final appearances have ended in defeat. 

- Hobart boast the two leading run-scorers in the 2018-19 BBL, with D'Arcy Short and Matthew Wade contributing 637 and 592 respectively.

- The highest batting average (by a player scoring at least 50 runs) belongs to the Stars' Marcus Stoinis, whose 494 runs have come at 54.9.

- Callum Ferguson is responsible for the highest score in 2018-19, having made 113 not out from 53 balls in the Thunder's victory over the Scorchers on January 24.

- The Renegades' Kane Richardson has been the most prolific bowler in the competition, with 24 wickets. Next come a pair of Sydney Sixers bowlers in Sean Abbott (22) and Steve O'Keefe (21).

 

Sydney Thunder missed out on a Big Bash League finals spot despite a four-wicket victory over table-toppers Hobart Hurricanes on Saturday.

The Thunder needed to win their rain-affected last match of the regular season in 11.3 overs or less to have any chance of making the top four but missed out at Manuka Oval.

George Bailey (53 from 35 balls), captain Matthew Wade (45) and Ben McDermott (44 not out) were in the runs as the Hurricanes posted 165-4 from 19 overs following a rain delay.

Callum Ferguson made a rapid 47 as the Thunder beat a Hobart side already assured of top spot and a home semi-final, yet it was not enough to sneak a place in the semi-finals.

Melbourne Stars will take fourth place at the expense of Brisbane Heat if they beat second-placed Sydney Sixers on Sunday.

 

WADE CLOSES IN ON SHORT, CUMMINS THE PICK

Wade has been in outstanding form for the Hurricanes in their pursuit of a first BBL title and now only has 12 runs fewer than team-mate D'Arcy Short - the leading run-scorer in the tournament.

The wicketkeeper-batsman missed out on what would have been a fifth half-century in his last six innings, but showed his class after being dropped twice early on by Fawad Ahmed before play was halted due to the weather.

Wade smashed Pat Cummins (2-29) over backward square and into the stands and hammered Fawad over the ropes after Short and Caleb Jewell fell cheaply.

Cummins - fresh from starring in Australia's Test-series whitewash of Sri Lanka - snared Wade caught behind with a rapid delivery to leave the Hurricanes 71-3 in the 10th over after removing Short early on.


BAILEY AND MCDERMOTT ALL-BUT END THUNDER HOPES

The experienced Bailey and the clean-striking McDermott combined for a 94-run stand to all-but end the Thunder's bid to prolong their season.

McDermott was struck on the throat in a win over Melbourne Renegades on Thursday, but launched Daniel Sams for a massive six to take the Hurricanes to 100 in an impressive knock.

Bailey struck the expensive Gurinder Sandhu and Chris Jordan over the ropes as the runs continued to flow.


FERGUSON KNOCK IN VAIN

The Thunder were never going to be home by the time they needed to be despite getting off to a great start.

Shane Watson hit a six and two fours in a first over from Riley Meredith that went for 16, but he was dismissed by the same bowler with just 15 to his name.

Usman Khawaja was struck on the helmet by Meredith, but went on to make 36 from 21 balls as the Thunder ensured they would not bow out with a whimper.

Ferguson was dropped by Jofra Archer when he was only on one and took advantage of that reprieve, while Chris Green made an unbeaten 34 in a consolation victory despite impressive spells from Qais Ahmad (2-22) and Short (2-27).

Matthew Wade responded to his latest Australia snub with another half-century as Hobart Hurricanes sealed top spot in the Big Bash League ladder with a 16-run win over Melbourne Renegades.

There was no place for Wade when Australia's white-ball squad for the tour of India was announced on Thursday, but the Hurricanes captain was certainly not feeling sorry for himself at Blundstone Arena later in the day.

The wicketkeeper-batsman's purple patch continued with a rapid 58 from 30 balls - the fourth time he has passed 50 in his last five knocks - as Hobart posted 183-6, Ben McDermott making an unbeaten 39.

Kane Richardson marked his Australia recall by taking two wickets, but the paceman's four overs cost 55 runs and it was Mohammad Nabi (1-22) who was the pick of the Renegades bowlers.

Aaron Finch's side were unable to secure a home semi-final, making 167-8 in reply, D'Arcy Short - called up for the start of the India tour as a cover for Shaun Marsh - and Jofra Archer taking two wickets apiece.

Qais Ahmad also struck twice on his BBL debut as Hobart ensured they will finish top with one match of the regular season to spare, booking a home semi-final next Thursday.

 

SKIPPER WADES IN AGAIN

Wade continued to lead by example with another blitz at the top of the order, putting on 87 for the first wicket with Short.

Short is the leading run-scorer in the tournament, but Wade is chasing his opening partner down after smashing four sixes in a brutal onslaught.

He struck Richardson for a six in the first over and also set about the Australia paceman in the third, dispatching him for a maximum over midwicket after driving him for four.

Wade slog-swept Nabi over the ropes and did the same to Cameron Boyce to bring up a 27-ball half-century, but Richardson removed both openers in the ninth. 

 

MCDERMOTT TAKES BLOW AND DISHES ONE OUT

McDermott kept the Hurricanes ticking along and showed he is made from strong stuff after taking a blow to the throat.

The powerful batsman needed treatment when he attempted to scoop Harry Gurney for four, but the ball flashed off the bat and struck him below the helmet.

McDermott picked himself up to smack the next ball over midwicket for six.

Simon Milenko also made his mark with the bat, taking 20 off another costly over from Richardson - the leading wicket-taker in the tournament. 

 

SHORT SHOWS ALL-ROUND CREDENTIALS

Short will be selected primarily for his explosive batting if he gets his chance against India, but did damage with the ball against the Renegades with figures of 2-20 from four overs.

He was fortunate to remove Sam Harper before also seeing the back of Nabi to leave Melbourne four down for 81 in the 10th.

Archer (2-19) dismissed Test opener Marcus Harris for only three before Tom Cooper was one of two victims for teenage Afghanistan tweaker Qais, who took 2-34, figures somewhat spoiled when his spell ended with back-to-back sixes from Mackenzie Harvey.

Jake Weatherald and Alex Carey blasted rapid half-centuries as Adelaide Strikers kept their slim Big Bash League finals hopes alive with a seven-wicket win over leaders Hobart Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes could have sealed top spot and a home semi-final with a win, but the Strikers ended a four-match losing streak at UTAS Stadium on Thursday.

Matthew Wade took advantage of being dropped on 40 to smash 88 off 54 balls as Hobart posted 169-7 in Launceston, Ben Laughlin claiming figures of 3-31 and Rashid Khan 2-28.

It soon became apparent that would not be enough, with Weatherald (82) and Carey (54) putting on 116 for the first wicket in just 10.4 overs to put the defending champions well on their way to stopping the rot.

Weatherald was put down on 30 and that proved to be costly as the left-hander ended a barren run by striking two sixes and 11 fours in a magnificent display of clean striking, leaving Adelaide with an outside chance of making the top four.

 

NORMAL SERVICE RESUMED FOR WADE 

Wade struggled against Brisbane Heat on Tuesday but has been in outstanding form for the Hurricanes and showed his class again with a third half-century in his last four knocks.

The skipper had a stroke of luck when a running Michael Neser put him down in the cover area off Laughlin 10 shy of another fifty.

Wade, the second-highest scorer in the tournament, hit Cameron Valente and Jake Lehmann over the ropes in another powerful knock - which also included eight fours - before he was trapped leg before by Laughlin.

 

ARCHER SHOWS HE'S HUMAN

Jofra Archer took a sensational catch in the thrashing of the Heat, but he was unable to hang on to take a tricky chance to remove Weatherald.

Weatherald breathed a sigh of relief when the paceman showed he is human after running back from mid-off.

Archer failed to make amends when he came into the attack immediately after that drop, Carey flexing his muscles to take 20 off his first over as the openers got off to flyer.

 

POWERPLAY PUMMELING

Weatherald and Carey had 50 on the board inside four overs as they unleashed a barrage of powerful strokes.

James Faulkner, Archer and Jarrod Freeman were given the treatment, the openers scoring 84 in the Powerplay.

Carey was caught and bowled by Simon Milenko soon after reaching 50, but Weatherald continued to strike lusty blows and Jonathan Wells finished it off with an unbeaten 19.

James Vince and Josh Philippe blasted half-centuries as Sydney Sixers cantered home by nine wickets to hand Hobart Hurricanes just a second defeat of the Big Bash League season. 

The Hurricanes came into Wednesday's meeting at the SCG knowing a ninth win from 10 games would all-but assure them a home semi-final. 

And they would have fancied their chances as Matthew Wade (64), Ben McDermott (41) and D'Arcy Short (32) paved the way for a useful 172-4, boosted by George Bailey's nine-ball 22 at the end. 

But even Short and Wade, the tournament's top two run-scorers, were overshadowed by Vince and Philippe, who put on 167 for the second wicket with some devastating hitting to lift the Sixers to second in the table and looking good for a play-off berth with six wins from 11 matches.

 

WADE MAKING WAVES ONCE MORE

Alongside opening partner Short, Wade had enjoyed an unbroken 158-run stand in a 10-wicket success over Adelaide Strikers last time out. 

Wade crashed 84 from only 49 balls on that occasion and although he was not quite as explosive here, the wicketkeeper still thumped four fours and two sixes in his 51-ball knock. 

He and Short, who hit four fours and one maximum during his 26-ball stay, put on 67 for the opening partnership and set the platform for McDermott and Bailey. 

The former got himself going with successive sixes off Lloyd Pope, before perishing from the penultimate ball of the innings courtesy of a stunning diving catch from Sean Abbott running around from long-on. 

 

VINCE GOES BACK-TO-BACK

The England international had found form with 75 against Brisbane Heat on Sunday, and he followed that up with 74 not out from 50 balls here. 

He took his time to begin with, scoring only six from his first six - thanks largely to an edged four off Clive Rose - but soon found his rhythm, to the dismay of Riley Meredith. 

The 13th over saw Vince go to fifty with a six off his legs, before crashing two more boundaries to that side as Meredith leaked 18 from his set of six. 

 

PHILIPPE FINDS HIS FEET

After a previous high score of 30 in this year's tournament, it's fair to say Philippe was due a score and he certainly delivered. 

His 86 from only 49 deliveries featured nine fours while he cleared the ropes on three occasions, including taking Rose for three boundaries in succession in a fourth over that yielded 19 runs. 

That sequence kicked off a run of nine fours in just 13 balls from the Sixers batsmen, who cruised to their target with 17 deliveries to spare. 

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