England’s Mary Earps has revealed the public high of winning Euro 2022 and being named FIFA women’s goalkeeper of the year resulted in an unwelcome private battle to “feel human again”.

The Manchester United keeper, set to start in the Lionesses’ World Cup opener against Haiti on Saturday, has cemented her place as England’s number one since the arrival of boss Sarina Wiegman, whom Earps often credits for reigniting a career she once thought had ground to a halt.

Though the 30-year-old loved “experiencing almost how the Kardashians live” at FIFAs swanky February awards ceremony in Paris, she was surprised by the corresponding lows in the aftermath.

Earps, speaking from England’s team hotel in Brisbane, said: “I was speaking with Micah Richards and Jamie Carragher, and we were talking about the difference between winning a tournament and then having a disappointing tournament and how different it’s to come back from that. And I was saying for me personally, I felt like that was the hardest thing I ever did.

“Okay, that’s an exaggeration. Not the hardest thing I ever did, but it was the hardest footballing thing to come back to.

“Like you’ve been on this massive high for so long and then you come back to normal life where you are not in this bubble, you’re not living in this little world, you’re not surrounded by people.

“And it’s absolutely a life of privilege, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a lot to adjust to coming back and going back to training every day.

“Not at that intensity, not at that pressure, but also with that comes an incredible adrenaline rush. And not having that every day, it was hard to find your feet as to what normal felt like. And it probably took me till after December to feel human again.

“And then obviously the FIFA Best came and I felt like I had to start all over again.

“It’s a privilege to be in that situation and a problem that I would love to have every single year, but it was definitely hard to adjust.”

England vice-captain Earps may need to repeat that process again should the Lionesses, among the tournament favourites, lift the trophy that has eluded them in five previous World Cup appearances.

At the beginning of 2021, Earps was on the verge of quitting football altogether. Her contract at United was coming to an end and she had not featured for England since November 2019.

Yet Wiegman saw something in Earps when she took the reins in September 2021 and recalled the Nottingham native and 2019 World Cup veteran as part of her first selected squad, handing her a fresh start in England’s 8-0 victory over North Macedonia to begin the World Cup qualifiers.

Earps, who was also offered a new deal with United, has seized the opportunity with both gloves ever since and was instrumental in ensuring four of the Lionesses’ six matches in their unbeaten run to lift the Euro 2022 trophy were clean-sheet victories.

Perhaps Earps’ path is most aptly illustrated by her journey to and from the FIFA awards, where she had a personal security guard named Johnny and the “surreal” experience of discussing the finer points of goalkeeping with Argentinian World Cup winner Emiliano Martinez and Arsene Wenger.

Earps took EasyJet on the way there, but flew business class on the way back, where she was closer to the front than she had ever been in her life.

Yet before the Golden Gloves, the first-class keeper was determined to elevate England to new heights.

She added: “I always thought it was there. I didn’t think that it would burn as deeply as it’s burning. It’s like a fire in your belly that I’ve always had. But I think you’re always trying to achieve things that you don’t know if it’s going to be possible.

“You’re like, that’s what you’re striving for, you’re striving for this excellence and you’re constantly on this pursuit of, ‘How far can I go? How high can I go?’

“And to actually achieve those things just makes me want to fill my cabinet with even more trophies and medals really. It doesn’t make me feel like, ‘Job done’, which I thought that it would. It makes me just want to do more, do better.”

Flanker Lewis Ludlam says England’s players are self-policing the consumption of sweet treats in a bid to be in peak condition for a shot at World Cup glory.

Steve Borthwick’s preliminary squad are in the midst of preparations for the tournament in France, which kicks off in just seven weeks’ time.

Players were last week put through their paces in the heat of Italy before returning to home soil to continue building towards next month’s four warm-up fixtures.

Northampton captain Ludlam revealed diet rules and weight monitoring have been relaxed slightly since head coach Borthwick replaced Eddie Jones.

Yet, after exclaiming he had not “seen cake in weeks” after spotting a buffet at the team’s Surrey training base, the 27-year-old insists players are not allowing each other to give in to temptation.

“The regime has changed in that it’s not as much forced upon you – you’ve got the trust to do everything the right way so we are in the best position to go and put ourselves in the best spot this World Cup,” he said.

“There’s a general feeling amongst the squad that we’ve got to be on the money and making sure we’re making decisions so we are better rugby players the next week and the next month.

“It is a good group of lads and we keep each other in check.

“There might be a birthday cake here and there but I think the lads are pretty understanding of what’s ahead of us.

“In the grand scheme of things, it is a short time in our career when we can be really on it to give ourselves the chance of creating some really special memories.”

England take on Wales home and away in early August and then face Six Nations champions Ireland in Dublin and Fiji at Twickenham before heading to France to begin their Pool D campaign against Argentina on September 9 in Marseille.

Borthwick’s appointment last December led to Saints star Ludlam being surrounded at Test level by a management team previously in charge of his club’s fierce rivals Leicester.

The 19-cap back-row forward initially found it strange setting aside hostilities and having old enemies as allies.

But he believes the England setup – led by former Tigers coaches Borthwick, Richard Wigglesworth, Aled Walters, Kevin Sinfield and Tom Harrison – is beginning to feel like a club environment.

“It was weird to get over in the beginning, especially Tom, who obviously loves Leicester and having been up against him a few times,” said Ludlam.

“Now, because we’ve been in camp for a long period of time – we don’t normally get this long period without games – it’s starting to feel like a club coming together rather than an international team where you’re only in for six weeks or whatever.

“It’s starting to come together really nicely into one unit.”

England’s final 33-man World Cup selection is due to be announced on August 7.

Injured quintet Billy Vunipola, Mako Vunipola, Ollie Lawrence, Ollie Chessum and Jack Walker, who were not included in Borthwick’s initial 41-strong training squad, are continuing their rehabilitation.

“They’re good, they’re on their programmes and working extremely hard to get themselves ready,” said scrum coach Harrison.

“Everyone’s got different timescales but they’re doing their best to be available.”

Moeen Ali reached the Test all-rounder’s benchmark of 3,000 runs and 200 wickets as he batted against Australia at Old Trafford.

The England spinner, promoted to number three in the batting order for the fourth Ashes Test, flashed a Pat Cummins delivery wide of gully to reach 24 for his innings and exactly 3,000 runs in the format before immediately celebrating with a more authentic boundary through the covers.

He is the 16th player and the fourth Englishman to reach both landmarks and, here, the PA news agency looks at that select group.

Awesome foursome

Moeen brought up 200 wickets with the scalp of Steve Smith in Australia’s second innings of the third Test at Headingley.

With Ollie Pope out injured, he put his hand up to bat at three in England’s chase in Leeds and would have had hopes of making the 28 runs he needed to tick off both marks in one match.

Just five were forthcoming but he took his opportunity on the second morning in Manchester.

Moeen’s five centuries include a best of 155 not out against Sri Lanka in 2016 while he also has five five-wicket hauls, his best figures being six for 53 against South Africa in 2017.

He joins team-mate Stuart Broad and past greats Sir Ian Botham and Andrew Flintoff, in the 3,000/200 club.

Broad had his own moment in the spotlight on day one of the fourth Test with his 600th wicket, just the fifth man ever to achieve that feat, which he paired with his 3,640 runs at 18.10 in his 165 Tests prior to this, with a best of 169 against Pakistan at Lord’s in 2010.

Botham amassed 5,200 runs at 33.54, with 14 centuries and a best of 208, adding 383 wickets at 28.40 to stake a firm claim as statistically England’s greatest all-rounder – he is also the only one of the quartet to have a higher average batting than bowling.

Flintoff reached 3,845 runs and 226 wickets, in only 79 Tests compared to Botham’s 102. Moeen has taken 67 games to reach 3,000 and 200.

Captain Ben Stokes has over 6,000 runs under his belt and could add his name to the list this series, if his troublesome knee allows him to add the three wickets he still needs.

Sweet 16

England have more representatives than any other nation in the group of elite all-rounders, after Moeen broke the previous tie with New Zealand.

The Black Caps have three names on the list in Sir Richard Hadlee, Chris Cairns and Daniel Vettori.

South Africa and India have two apiece – Shaun Pollock and Jacques Kallis for the former and Kapil Dev and Ravichandran Ashwin for the latter, with five other countries having one each.

West Indies great Sir Garry Sobers was the first to achieve the feat, with Imran Khan following as Pakistan’s only representative – Wasim Akram came up 102 runs short.

Australia spinner Shane Warne, Sri Lanka seamer Chaminda Vaas and Bangladesh’s former captain Shakib al Hasan complete the list.

Kallis has by far the most runs of the 16 players with 13,289, over 5,000 clear of Sobers (8,032) with Dev and Botham the only others over 5,000.

Warne, with 708, comfortably tops Broad as the leading wicket-taker with Ashwin next on 486.

England made an encouraging start with bat and ball as they attempted to take control of their must-win Ashes Test at Emirates Old Trafford.

The hosts snapped up Australia’s last two wickets as the tourists bowed out for 317, and recovered well from the early loss of Ben Duckett to reach 61 for one at lunch.

Moeen Ali’s experimental promotion to number three was beginning to pay off, with the all-rounder reeling off five boundaries on his way to 31 not out and Zak Crawley was unbeaten on 26.

The growing sense that the game was unfolding in England’s favour was strengthened when Cameron Green had Crawley lbw, only for ball-tracking to show the ball disappearing past the leg stump.

With plenty of rain forecast over the weekend, the home side know they must move fast to set the game up and land the victory they need to keep the series alive, but after four sessions the building blocks are in place.

They enjoyed the perfect start, hometown hero James Anderson striking with the first ball of the day following 17 wicketless overs on Wednesday.

It was far from his best delivery, served up a fraction full outside off stump, but it got the desired response as Pat Cummins lifted a gentle catch straight to Ben Stokes at point to make it 299 for nine.

Anderson, bowling from the end that bears his name, took the acclaim in what could yet be his last appearance at this ground.

England looked to have wrapped things up in the next over, number 11 Josh Hazlewood fencing Chris Woakes to slip, but the TV umpire called a marginal no-ball as the seamer nudged the line.

Australia cashed in another 17 runs but Woakes’ hopes of a first five-for against Australia were only on pause, Hazlewood clipping to third slip to end the innings.

The English reply began with four off the first delivery, Crawley brushing Starc fine off his hip to keep the cheers coming from the stands.

It was not long before they turned to groans though, Duckett lasting only six balls as he pressed forward and nicked Starc tamely into Alex Carey’s gloves.

That meant an early appearance for Moeen, who promptly threw his hands at the fourth delivery he faced and hit fresh air. Crawley was also bested when he edged Hazlewood just in front of the cordon, but the attacking instincts of the pair began to pay off.

Crawley whipped Hazlewood smartly through midwicket as his timing returned and Moeen hit the boundary ropes four times in eight deliveries as he unfurled a couple of picturesque drives and took his career tally beyond 3,000 Test runs.

Green thought he had Crawley when umpire Joel Wilson raised his finger, but a wise referral spared the opener and brought one of the biggest roars of the day.

Crawley signed off the session with a sweet cover drive off Cummins, leaving Australia with questions to answer in the afternoon.

England will be looking to press the accelerator on day two of their must-win Ashes Test as they bid to beat Australia and the weather forecast at Emirates Old Trafford.

The hosts enjoyed a productive first day with the ball as they reduced their opponents to 299 for eight, but with predictions of heavy rain over the weekend, they need to move fast to get ahead of the game.

Chris Woakes did everything in his power to advance the cause, collecting a superb four for 52 including all-rounders Cameron Green and Mitchell Marsh in the same over, while Stuart Broad bagged two to become the fifth bowler in Test history to reach the 600 mark.

England’s task now is to round things off as swiftly as they can before setting about a potentially explosive innings of their own. The ‘Bazball’ era has thrown up plenty of thrilling batting but rarely have they had to race against the clock with such high stakes.

While Australia can allow themselves the luxury of letting the match take its natural course, safe in the knowledge that a draw would see them retain the urn, England skipper Ben Stokes has made it clear he wants his side to do pull every lever they can to force a result.

With another full-house ready to roar them on the scene is set, but England must be careful not to go too hard, too often and blow up their own chances before the real storms arrive on Saturday.

Broad joins elite company

Broad moved to 599 Test wickets by pinning Usman Khawaja in front, bringing the enticing prospect of David Warner being the England seamer’s landmark scalp. Warner did not fall to Broad for the 18th time in his Test career. But Broad would not be denied as his bouncer drew a false shot out of Travis Head. Long-time opening bowling partner James Anderson is the only other seamer to reach the landmark.

Stokes out to make history

Pat Cummins’ misery at the coin toss continued, calling incorrectly for the fourth time in a row, which allowed England’s bowlers first use of the pitch. When it was put to Stokes that no team has won at this ground after winning the toss and electing to invite their opponents to bat, the England captain said: “It would be a nice time to be the first to do that.”

Broad overtakes Botham

Broad joining the exclusive 600 club was the talk of the town but the wicket that got him there – when Head injudiciously hooked to Joe Root at long leg – was also significant as it moved him on to 149 dismissals against Australia, taking him ahead of Sir Ian Botham’s tally versus the old enemy.

Unlucky for some

Marnus Labuschagne’s struggles in this series have been well-documented but those who have fulfilled the first drop role for England have hardly fared any better. Labuschagne’s 47 in the first innings at Lord’s was the top-score from a number three batter after three Tests but he went four better to record his first fifty of the series – before then missing a straight one from Moeen Ali and departing lbw.

Stat’s all, folks

Chris Woakes continues to excel on his return to the Test side as he snared Warner, Cameron Green, Mitch Marsh and Alex Carey to finish the day as the pick of the attack with four for 52. The dismissals of all-rounders Green and Marsh was the first time in Woakes’ Test career he has claimed two wickets in a single over.

Ollie’s op

Ollie Pope took to his social channels to announce he has gone under the knife on the dislocated right shoulder that ruled the England vice captain out of the last three Tests. Pope suffered the injury when fielding in the second Ashes Test at Lord’s and exacerbated the problem later on in the match amid some miscommunication between England and the match officials. Scans highlighted the extent of the damage and Pope, who has twice suffered dislocations to his left shoulder, has started the road to recovery.

Stuart Broad admitted his “addiction” to Test cricket has carried him to 600 wickets, a prestigious milestone he savoured even more after reaching it at the end named after James Anderson.

The English pair are great friends, long-time opening bowling partners and now the only non-spinners to have got to the landmark, which has only been attained by three other people in history.

Broad’s moment came just after tea on day one of the fourth Ashes Test at Emirates Old Trafford, when Travis Head injudiciously hooked a bumper and Joe Root gobbled up a low catch in the deep.

“Never in my dreams did I think that would be a thing,” Broad said. “It’s got a nice ring to it, getting my 600th wicket from the James Anderson End. There’s something pretty special about that.”

After Australia closed on 299 for eight, Broad reflected on his insatiable ambition flourishing in the Ben Stokes-Brendon McCullum axis, under whom he has taken 87 wickets in 14 Tests, having previously feared for his international future after being overlooked for the Caribbean tour in March 2022.

“I have definitely got an addiction to Test cricket and the competitive side of it,” Broad said. “Ultimately Baz and Stokesy have given me a new lease of life in a way.

“It is such a free changing room. There is no fear of failure or judgement, it’s about moving the game forward and that suits me. I owe a lot in the last 14 months to the way Baz and Stokes have brought energy to the group.

“I have been able to match that and move myself forward as a player. I have found it really enjoyable, I would argue it’s been the most enjoyable year of my Test career which is an awesome thing to say at 37 years old.”

The dismissal of Head was also significant for Broad as he moved to 149 Test wickets against Australia, a record for an England bowler, eclipsing the previous benchmark held by Sir Ian Botham.

Broad, a four-time Ashes winner, revealed his outlook was shaped by watching Australia’s dominance of England in the 1990s and early 2000s, ultimately snapped during a seminal series in 2005.

“I grew up completely obsessed watching Ashes cricket and I suppose that’s why some of my heroes are Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, some of the great Aussie team,” Broad said.

“As a kid you are influenced by winning sides. It also built up my steeliness to want to be part of England teams that could win the Ashes after going through a whole childhood without us lifting them.

“I probably grew up with a bit more of an Australian mindset rather than a sort of England mindset of the 90s.”

Broad has been an ever-present in these Ashes, having been expected to take more of a backseat due to the congested schedule, but he has risen to the challenge as the leading wicket-taker in the series.

“His statistics speak for themselves,” Australia batter Marnus Labuschagne said. “We know that if conditions are good for bowling, he’s always going to be a handful.

“But he’s shown through the series and through his career that when it’s not, he can still keep it tight, wait for his opportunity and work a batter out.”

Chris Woakes continues to excel on his Test return, following up a star all-round showing on his comeback at Headingley with figures of four for 52 that on another day would have taken top billing.

“An England Test side with Chris Woakes in England is a pretty formidable side,” Broad added. “He was exceptional and deserves five in the morning, hopefully.

“We all know what a talent Chris Woakes has been and what a servant he’s been to English cricket. He’s a pleasure to play with and knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s been exceptional since coming back in at Leeds.”

Stuart Broad joined Test cricket’s exclusive 600 club as he and Chris Woakes kept England’s hopes of a rousing Ashes comeback alive on day one at Emirates Old Trafford.

Three years after taking his 500th wicket at the same ground, Broad completed another century of scalps to join a hall of fame that includes only four other names: Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne, team-mate James Anderson and Anil Kumble. Among fast bowlers, Anderson and Broad stand alone in the pantheon.

The 37-year-old dismissed the series’ top run-scorer Usman Khawaja early on and returned after tea to bounce out Travis Head as his landmark victim, overtaking Sir Ian Botham’s record of 148 wickets Australian wickets in the process.

But with England in do-or-die territory at 2-1 down heading into the fourth Test, the collective mission in Manchester was even more important than any personal achievements, guaranteeing Woakes a healthy share of the spotlight.

He bowled superbly all day to claim four for 52, with Australia finishing up on 299 for eight after being sent in by Ben Stokes.

Woakes picked up exactly where he left off in an excellent comeback performance at Headingley, picking off David Warner in the morning session before removing Australia’s dangerous duelling all-rounders Mitchell Marsh and Cameron Green in one outstanding over in the evening.

The pair were initially thought to be fighting for one place in the side but Australia surprisingly ditched their spinner Todd Murphy to find room for both. That beefed up their middle order but Woakes swept them both aside at an important moment in the evening session, trapping Green lbw as he hunched forward in defence and then having Marsh brilliantly caught behind.

England kept faith with Bairstow behind the stumps despite a series of costly misses in the first three Tests and got a measure of payback as he held on to an ankle-high nick, sprawling almost horizontally as he scooped the chance in front of first slip.

And it was Woakes who provided a late sting in the tail, taking out Alex Carey with the new ball to squash a vexing stand with Mitchell Starc.

Australia will rue a slightly sloppy day, full of batters getting out just as they looked set. Four of their top six were out between 41 and 51, with Warner making 32, but their failure to kick on could also be read as a testament to England’s dogged determination.

Stokes showed no hesitation in sending the opposition in first, a decision that appeared to be based partially on overcast skies and partially due to the prospect of a weekend washout.

The first of those factors began to change almost as soon as he made the call, with the clouds disappearing and the sun coming out.

Broad ensured England got on the board early, missing out on his nemesis Warner but sending the in-form Khawaja back for three after nailing him on the front pad from round the wicket.

There was no flurry of chances to follow, though, with Australia getting the better of the morning’s play as they posted a lunch total of 107 for two.

Woakes was the pick of the bowlers and picked up Warner just as his confidence started to grow, caught behind as he drove with hard hands.

England might have considered themselves unlucky not to get Labuschagne or Steve Smith early, with both starting awkwardly. Smith uncharacteristically hooked his first ball from Woakes towards fine-leg, but Mark Wood was a few yards in from the rope and missed out on what would otherwise have been a banker of a catch.

Both batters began to look more comfortable but were unable to impose themselves fully.

Smith (41) was undone by Wood’s extra pace, just too late on a 92mph ball that struck him dead in front, while Labuschagne’s relief at making a first half-century of the series evaporated instantly. Nudging forward to a Moeen Ali teaser that gripped off the surface and snuck past the inside edge, he was on his way.

With a tangible hint of first day turn, Australia may well have been ruing their own decision to go with no specialist spinner for the first time in 120 Tests.

Broad’s magic moment came after tea when he followed the team plan to bowl short at Head, digging in a short ball that was flapped obligingly to Root in the deep. The cheers belonged to Broad, cementing his status as one of England’s most enduring Ashes combatants, but the hard work continued.

Marsh, fresh from a fluent century in the third Test, unloaded a 56-ball fifty before he became the second part of Woakes’ double in the 63rd over. Carey, welcomed by the now customary boos, guided Starc through a 39-run partnership in the closing stages before he perished to the fresh Dukes.

Attempting to offer no stroke, he grazed Woakes through to Bairstow as England moved within two wickets of completing the job.

Stuart Broad became just the fifth bowler to get to 600 Test wickets, reaching a prestigious milestone by dismissing Travis Head on the opening day of the fourth Ashes match.

Broad joined an exclusive club, with long-time opening bowling partner James Anderson the only other seamer to go past the landmark, alongside spinners Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble.

All eyes were on Broad after he snared Australia opener Usman Khawaja lbw for his 599th dismissal at Emirates Old Trafford on Wednesday morning, with long-term rival David Warner firmly in his sights.

Broad has dismissed Warner on 17 occasions – the joint third highest for a bowler against an individual batter, including twice last time out at Headingley – but the opener instead fell to Chris Woakes.

But Broad claimed a momentous wicket shortly after tea as England’s bumper plan to Head was rewarded, with the left-hander injudiciously hooking and Joe Root running in from long leg to take a low catch.

It might not have been the manner Broad would have expected to get to 600 but the wicket was also significant as it moved him on to 149 dismissals against Australia – a new England record as he eclipsed Sir Ian Botham’s haul of 148 versus the old enemy.

Stuart Broad became the fifth man to take 600 Test wickets with the scalps of Usman Khawaja and Travis Head in the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford.

Broad joined long-time new-ball partner James Anderson in the elite group and here, the PA news agency looks at how he measures up.


Broad’s wickets have come in 166 matches at an average of 27.57, with his Test debut coming back in 2007 against Sri Lanka.

Known for his game-wrecking bursts, Broad has 20 five-wicket hauls and three 10-wicket matches – a best of 11 for 121 against Australia at Chester-le-Street in 2013 and two against the West Indies, at Lord’s in 2012 and Old Trafford in 2020.

He produced a scintillating innings best of eight for 15 at Trent Bridge to help win the 2015 Ashes and has twice taken seven-wicket hauls at Lord’s, in the aforementioned West Indies clash and against New Zealand the following year.

Broad is also the only England bowler with two Test hat-tricks to his name. The first came against India in 2011 as part of figures of six for 46, with the second against Sri Lanka in 2014.

Australia opener David Warner is his favourite opponent with 17 dismissals across seven Ashes series dating back to 2013, including seven in 100 innings in 2019.

He has 11 dismissals each of Warner’s fellow Australians Steve Smith and Michael Clarke and has taken the wickets of New Zealand pair Ross Taylor and Tom Latham and South Africa’s AB de Villiers 10 times each.

Broad’s golden period between 2013 and 2016 also saw him take six for 25 against India at Old Trafford and six for 17 in Johannesburg to bowl South Africa out for 83. Those four years brought him 196 wickets at 25.56, including nine five-fors and four of his best five-innings figures.

He has shown little sign of slowing down with age, though, putting together a similarly impressive stretch dating back to 2019 – the year he turned 33. He has 165 wickets at 23.75 in that time and aside from a down year in 2021, with just 12 wickets in seven Tests, he has averaged 40 dismissals a year and is on course to maintain that with 34 this year.

Among the elite

Anderson and Broad sit third and fifth respectively on the list of all-time leading Test wicket-takers, which is headed by two of the world’s all-time great spin bowlers.

Muttiah Muralitharan’s 800 wickets – 795 for Sri Lanka and five for an ICC World XI – may never be matched, with the late Shane Warne currently the only man within 100 after taking 708 for Australia.

Anderson is closing on 700 with 688, while former India spinner Anil Kumble’s 619 wickets is the next mark in Broad’s sights.

Retired seamers Glenn McGrath and Courtney Walsh are the only other bowlers to take even 500 wickets – McGrath 563 for Australia and Walsh 519 for the West Indies.

Injury deprived Australia’s Nathan Lyon (496) of the chance to add his name to that list during the Ashes, while fellow spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (486) also has it in his sights.

Only Kumble of the current 500 club has a higher average than Broad, the Indian taking his wickets at 29.65. McGrath’s 21.64 edges out Muralitharan (22.72) for the best average.

Broad surprisingly has the fewest five-wicket innings among the septet, though on 12 of those 20 occasions he has gone on to take at least six – including two sevens and that eight-wicket blitz.

Moeen Ali made an important breakthrough on the first afternoon as England battled to keep their Ashes prospects alive at Emirates Old Trafford.

After sending Australia in to bat in increasingly placid conditions, Ben Stokes saw the tourists reach 187 for four at tea on day one in Manchester.

With rain predicted to be a factor over the weekend, that just about keeps the home side in touch as they look to force the win they need to take the series to a decider at the Kia Oval next week but the margin for error is slim.

Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes took care of Australia’s openers in the morning, the former moving to 599 career wickets, but Australia’s middle order threatened to drag the game away after lunch.

Mark Wood successfully removed Steve Smith to check that progress but a stand of 63 between Marnus Labuschagne (51) and Travis Head (47no) was beginning to become a major headache.

Then, 10 minutes before the interval, Moeen found enough spin to turn one past Labuschagne’s inside edge and win an lbw decision via DRS.

Labuschagne had just celebrated his first half-century of the series and was starting to show flickers of the form that, until recent weeks, saw him occupy top spot in the ICC’s world batting rankings.

The suggestion of early spin from Moeen also had the effect of casting question marks over Australia’s team selection, having dropped Todd Murphy and gone in without a specialist spinner for the first time in 120 Tests.

England hopes of rounding up quick Australian wickets met with resistance at Emirates Old Trafford, where the tourists reached 107 for two on the first morning of the fourth Ashes Test.

In placid batting conditions Ben Stokes gambled by sending Australia in first, motivated by his side’s 2-1 deficit in the series and the threat of a weekend washout, but in need of early breakthroughs to justify the call.

Stuart Broad responded by taking out in-form opener Usman Khawaja for three, moving to 599 Test wickets in the process, but England managed only one more before lunch when Chris Woakes had David Warner caught behind for 32.

Neither Marnus Labuschagne (29no) nor Steve Smith (33no) started convincingly, but the pair survived to score briskly in the last half-hour and leave the home side needing some afternoon inspiration.

For the fourth time in a row Australia skipper Pat Cummins called wrong at the toss, leaving Stokes to make his margin call.

He handed Broad an immediate chance to tighten his grip over Warner, having snapped him up for the 17th time at Headingley last time out.

The left-hander, who survived heavy scrutiny over his place this week, bagged two ducks on this ground on his last visit four years ago but ruled out a repeat performance off the first ball of the game, slapping a wide loosener from Broad through cover for four.

The crowd were eager to see the returning James Anderson make his mark at the end that bears his name but, despite a typically solid start, it was Broad who got things going.

Nobody has batted longer or made more runs in the series than Khawaja, but he was first fall on this occasion, plumb lbw to a full ball angled in from round the wicket.

Labuschagne has had a much leaner time of it and his struggles continued initially, comprehensively beaten on the outside edge by Anderson on nought and completely misreading an inswinger from Broad moments later.

The arrival of Mark Wood dialled up the pace but, unlike the previous match, Australia managed to use it to their advantage.

His four-over spell went for 21 – as well as four byes – and a thick edge to third man from Labuschagne was as close as he got to a breakthrough.

Instead, it was Woakes who checked Warner’s growing confidence. Setting up camp outside his off stump and drawing a couple of poor shots, he eventually pushed his length a fraction fuller. Warner drove, snicked through to Jonny Bairstow and was on his way.

Smith was next up and almost gifted England a chance with an opening stroke that was entirely out of character.

He stepped inside the line of his first ball from Woakes, hooking straight towards Wood at fine-leg. Had he been stationed on the rope it would have been a regulation catch, but he was several metres in and saw the ball clear his despairing dive en route to a one-bounce four.

The runs began to flow with greater ease as lunch approached, both batters showing greater control and a two-over spell from Moeen Ali costing 17.

England defender Lucy Bronze said the Lionesses are feeling “empowered” ahead of their World Cup opener after releasing a statement addressing the players’ ongoing row with the Football Association (FA) over bonus payments and other commercial concerns.

In a message from the team posted on social media by captain Millie Bright, the Lionesses said they were “disappointed that a resolution has still not been achieved” but would “pause discussions, with full intentions of revisiting them following the tournament”, which begins for England on Saturday against Haiti in Brisbane.

Bronze, speaking at England’s team hotel on Wednesday, was adamant that the decision to go public about the situation was motivated not just by personal financial benefits but wider principles, and maintained she is “one hundred per cent confident that we will not be distracted by this”.

Bronze said: “I think the players are feeling very empowered. I think it’s the first time as a player group we’ve actually ever sent the message out ourselves, that we’ve collectively done together and set our sights on. So I think in that respect it’s been a very empowered player group last night and this morning and these past few weeks.

“I feel like we felt it was important that we sent the message out, because there has been some talks (and) we want to show that we’re focused for the World Cup, that is our main focus.

“It’s super sad that we have these issues. I think that again, this was something that we spoke about as an England group. We’re not only doing this for ourselves, we’re doing it so that we can set a standard.”

The Lionesses join players from teams including France, Spain, Jamaica, Nigeria, Canada and co-hosts Australia who have in recent months expressed concerns over issues ranging from pay to personnel in their own federations and beyond.

Bronze continued: “It’s unfortunate that it has come before the World Cup, but at the same time, it’s because the World Cup gives us the big stage. It’s when people want to listen to us, it’s when things really matter.

“And that’s why so many teams now are coming out and speaking about it, because it’s the only moment that they get the stage or the opportunity to speak out, which is unfortunate.”

For the first time in a Women’s World Cup, players will be guaranteed performance-related remuneration directly from FIFA, with amounts increasing the deeper teams go in the tournament.

In addition, the Lionesses were also understood to be frustrated by a lack of clarity over what their cut from any commercial deals done by the FA linked to the team will be, as well as the restrictions around their personal sponsorships.

The PA news agency has contacted the FA for comment.

Bronze said the Lionesses benefit from a generally amiable relationship with the FA that leaves the squad feeling optimistic that they can reach an agreement without taking more dramatic steps, like threatening to boycott their Nations League fixtures, set to follow the World Cup in September.

She said: “I don’t think we made any threats as players, I think we’re quite well spoken. And we know how to kind of stand our ground – I can’t say the conversations ever got to be that heated.”

At the same time, Bronze suggested she and her team-mates deserved more, particularly after their victory at last summer’s Euros led to a paradigm shift for women and girls’ football in England, from a 173 per cent uptick in Women’s Super League attendance to a surge in participation at the grassroots level.

She added: “There’s constantly another level and another step you can take. Whether that’s commercially – or on or off the pitch. Whether that’s performance-based, it’s being rewarded for the things you have done.

“We are the European Champions. We have changed the game massively in England, so we want everything to fall in line. If we are going to do well on the pitch, then you would expect things to follow.”

Ben Stokes insists his England side are ready to give everything they have to level the Ashes and take a memorable series all the way to the wire.

The hosts find themselves 2-1 down after three pulsating games, losing tight finishes at Edgbaston and Lord’s before coming through strongly at Headingley to keep their hopes of regaining the urn alive.

Another win this week at Emirates Old Trafford would tee up a winner-takes-all decider at the Kia Oval, while Australia are looking to seal an outright victory on English soil for the first time in 22 years.

The stakes are clear for both teams, but England have the added wrinkle of knowing a rain-affected draw would be enough for Australia to retain the urn as holders.

The weather forecast predicts things to take a turn for the worse over the weekend, meaning much of the running will need to be done in the first three days.

“Everything is on the line. The team knows there’s no point holding anything back in this game,” Stokes said.

“Everyone is going to go out there this week and throw absolutely everything at it. If we were to shy away from the task at hand, then I think that wouldn’t get my best out of us as a team in terms of the personnel that we have at the moment.

“Obviously knowing we need to win this one, knowing that we could have a bit of weather around taking some time out of the game, that probably suits us even more to be honest.

“It would be amazing (to go 2-2), that last game would be everywhere. If that does happen and we do go to The Oval level, we’ll be challenging 2005 for one of the best series in England.”

Australia abandon spin

In 1993 at the Old Trafford, the late Shane Warne delivered his famous ‘ball of the century’ to dismiss Mike Gatting. Thirty years down the line and Australia have decided to go in without a specialist spin bowler for the first time in 120 Tests. The last time they picked an XI without a specialist slow bowler was against India in January 2012, when they went for an all-seam attack at the WACA. Nathan Lyon would have been certain to play had he not torn a calf at Lord’s, but his stand-in, Todd Murphy, was only trusted with 10 overs in the third Test and has been axed in favour of the returning Cameron Green.

Anderson eyes the honours board

James Anderson has taken five wickets in an innings 32 times in his Test career, more than any other English bowler in history. Yet he has never managed it at his home ground, despite having the Pavilion End renamed after him. His best figures of four for 38 came against South Africa in 2017 and the 40-year-old would dearly love to go one better and etch his name on the honours board in what could be his final appearance here. He struggled to make an impression on docile surfaces in the first two Tests and will be eager to make his mark.

Broad’s latest landmark

Anderson’s new-ball partner Stuart Broad is the top wicket-taker in the series with 16 and needs just two more to reach the magical figure of 600. That would make him the fifth member in one of cricket’s most exclusive clubs. David Warner accounts for 17 of Broad’s scalps and the Englishman will be licking his lips at the prospect of renewing that rivalry after the left-hander was spared the axe.

Social media moment

After Sir Alastair Cook incorrectly implicated Australia wicketkeeper Alex Carey in failing to pay a barber in Leeds, despite the gloveman not having his hair cut, Carey finally took the plunge and got his locks trimmed in Manchester. Steve Smith was on hand to vouch for his payment.

Data point

Nat Sciver-Brunt was the hero again as England claimed a Women’s Ashes series draw with a 69-run win over Australia on the DLS method in the final ODI in Taunton.

Victory saw the multi-series format drawn 8-8, the same score as when England last avoided Ashes defeat in Australia five years ago, and meant England had won both the ODI and Twenty20 series 2-1.

Australia had retained the Ashes by winning the second ODI in Southampton on Sunday.

Fresh from her unbeaten 111 at Southampton, Sciver-Brunt made her second hundred in the space of three days – 129 from 149 balls – as Australia were set a challenging 286 for victory.

Batting of the highest order also secured Sciver-Brunt a fourth century from five ODIs against Australia, and the seventh of her England career in this format.

Australia’s target was reduced to 269 from 44 overs by rain and, despite Ashleigh Gardner providing brief hope with a bludgeoning 41 from 24 balls, England ran out comfortable winners to the delight of a capacity crowd.

England, having lost the toss, were soon in trouble as openers Sophia Dunkley and Tammy Beaumont departed with just 12 runs on the board.

Captain Heather Knight and Sciver-Brunt rose to the challenge of repairing the innings, leading England to 43 for two by the end of the first powerplay after 10 overs.

Runs came freely with Knight finding gaps in the field with ease and Sciver-Brunt, who survived a stumping review off Gardner on 25, landing a six on the boundary cushion with imperious precision.

But with McGrath spilling a return chance off Sciver-Brunt, then on 54, the third-wicket partnership was worth 147 when Knight advanced down the wicket to Alana King and was bowled for 67, her 72-ball stay containing six fours and a six.

Alice Capsey dragged Jess Jonassen to long-on for five but huge roars greeted Sciver-Brunt as she reached three figures off 126 balls.

England entered the final 10 overs seeking to accelerate and Danni Wyatt played the perfect cameo with a whirlwind 43 from 25 balls before being bowled attempting to cut a full-length ball from Gardner.

Amy Jones was run out for six and Sciver-Brunt’s resistance finally ended in the 48th over as Jonassen tempted an airborne pull into the safe hands of Gardner.

The latter then won an lbw review against Charlie Dean to finish with three for 39 and Jonassen also collected a third scalp by castling Kate Cross as England closed on 285 for nine.

Australia, as England had done, lost two early wickets. Phoebe Litchfield fell for one to Lauren Bell, with Sophie Ecclestone accepting a low chance at first slip, and Alyssa Healy was cleaned up by a beauty from Cross as Australia slipped to 15 for two.

Tahlia McGrath appeared well set on 26 as Australia steadied the ship, but Ecclestone’s flight deceived her and Jones completed a smart stumping.

The players were forced off by rain with Australia 97 for three after 19.2 overs, with England facing potential heartbreak as they needed to bowl 20 overs to constitute a completed match.

But the players were back on the field 54 minutes later, with Australia’s revised target asking them to score at seven runs an over.

Ellyse Perry, having reached her half-century with a free-hit six, provided a steepling catch to Capsey off Cross on 53, and Beth Mooney drove straight to Ecclestone at mid-off to give Cross a third victim.

Australia were given hope as Gardner went on the offensive, taking 17 from a Bell over, but her acceptance of a risky second after Sutherland drove through the covers proved fatal as she was just short of her ground when Cross took the bails off from Wyatt’s throw.

Australia never recovered as Jones produced another excellent stumping to remove Wareham for 14 and Dean, called up with Sarah Glenn needing surgery for appendicitis, bowled Sutherland for 18.

King went for nought as Jones held a towering catch and England’s win was completed as Bell held a thick edge from Jonassen at short third.

Ben Stokes admitted England’s predicament in the Ashes means keeping one eye on the weather forecast and the possibility of an even bolder approach in the fourth Test.

England battled their way back into the series at Headingley with a three-wicket win to now trail 2-1 but they must prevail at both Emirates Old Trafford and the Kia Oval to regain the urn from Australia.

Complicating matters for the hosts is the heavy rain predicted in Manchester on days four and five this weekend, which could hasten England to try to push the game along to make sure of a result.

Under captain Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum in the last 13 months, England have frequently thrown convention out of the window in an effort to win not only matches but also hearts and minds.

Aggressive batting and daring declarations have been among the distinctive features in the reign of Stokes, who would not rule out getting even funkier in his approach if the weather intervenes.

“You never want to look too much into the weather but in the position we find ourselves in, we find we might have to,” Stokes said.

“We know we have to win this game to take it to the last game for us to have a chance of getting the urn back.

“Going into the last game 2-0 down, we knew we had to win that so I think that helped us a little bit.

“Maybe again with the weather that’s predicted, it might bring more out of us again knowing that we might have to push the game on even more than we normally do. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

The Women’s Ashes are running concurrently and while England are out of the running to beat Australia, Heather Knight described a series that has captured the public imagination and drawn record crowds as the “best ever”.

The momentum in the male equivalent has seesawed – not only from day to day but often from hour to hour – and Stokes acknowledged victory this week which would set up a decider would go a long way to determining how fondly this series is remembered.

“If we win this one then going into the last game at 2-2, it would be hard not to say this is the best men’s Ashes series in a long time, if not the best,” he said.

“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.

“There have 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.”

England’s record wicket-taker James Anderson will return at his home ground and where he has an end named in his honour, as he replaces Ollie Robinson in the only change from Headingley.

He has took just three wickets at an average of 75 in the first two matches before missing out in the third Test, but Stokes has no concerns about the Lancastrian, arguing his value cannot be measured in wickets alone.

“When you’re quality performer like Jimmy has been for the last 10 years, he is going to be disappointed that he’s not contributed to the team like he normally does,” Stokes added.

“But I did say to him ‘even if you’re not taking wickets like you want to be doing, at the other end you see the pressure you’re putting on the opposition’.

“He holds an end up without that being his main obligation with the ball. You don’t get as many wickets as him without having the odd bad game here and there – there’s no issues whatsoever with Jimmy.”

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