Freddie Steward and Jamie Blamire touched down as England secured a 32-15 victory over Australia in the Autumn Nations Series at Twickenham on Saturday.  

Leicester Tigers full-back Steward crossed for his first Test try in the opening stages, but poor discipline from both teams meant the match was largely a kicking contest.  

The returning Owen Farrell had 17 points to James O'Connor's 15 with the boot as Australia failed to bounce back from their 15-13 loss to Scotland last weekend.  

After Farrell and Michael Hooper hobbled off with injuries in the second half, Blamire raced away with the clock in the red to add a touch of gloss to the scoreline. 

Steward stepped around Kurtley Beale for the opening try in the eighth minute, but England were unable to take full advantage of Australia being reduced to 14 men after Tom Wright was sent to the bin for catching Jamie George in the head with his shoulder.  

Only a sublime last-ditch tackle from Nic White stopped George touching in the corner in the 35th minute and O'Connor's fourth successful penalty before Wright returned meant there were just four points in it at the break.  

O'Connor closed the gap further after the restart, but Angus Bell was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle on Courtney Lawes and Farrell slotted through the resulting penalty, though he missed another effort from the tee before Bell returned.  

An ankle injury forced Hooper off before the hour mark and Farrell put a converted try between the teams with a successful penalty after Bell's scrum infringement. 

The game was already put to bed before Noah Lolesio gave the ball away to Sam Simmonds, who teed up Blamire for a try that Marcus Smith converted to make the result look more comfortable.

Eight straight for England  

Since Eddie Jones took over, England have been victorious in all of their eight meetings with their coach's home nation. They have never enjoyed a better winning run against the Wallabies, who last got the better of England at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.  

Australia still struggle in Europe  

Having succumbed to back-to-back defeats against Scotland and England, Australia have now won just two of their past 10 away Tests versus European teams. They will hope to end the skid against Wales at the Principality Stadium next weekend. 

Kane Williamson is excited by the prospect of New Zealand pulling off a dream double when they face Australia in the T20 World Cup final on Sunday.

The Black Caps beat India to win the inaugural World Test Championship in June and they will contest a third consecutive ICC final at Dubai International Stadium this weekend.

New Zealand had never reached a T20 World Cup final before defeating England with a magnificent run chase on Wednesday and captain Williamson is urging his side to rise to the occasion when they do battle with their trans-Tasman rivals.

He said in a press conference on Saturday: "It'd be some achievement [to do the double],

"But where it stands at the moment is there's a game of cricket to play and for us it's focusing on that and focusing on our cricket and looking to go out there and implement the things that are important to us.

"These sort of events are of focus in the calendar and it's a really exciting opportunity to be here now and looking forward to the match tomorrow."

Australia also chased down a big total to upset Pakistan and moved into their second World Cup final in the shortest format, having lost to England in 2010.

Skipper Aaron Finch says Australia always had the belief they could defy the odds and go all the way to the final.

He said: "It wasn't unexpected. We came here with a clear plan to try and win this tournament. We always felt that we have the depth and quality to do that.

"A lot of people had written us off from the start, so it has been really impressive the way we have gone about our business. Everyone has prepared really well and had match-defining performances at some point, the guys are up and about for tomorrow."

 

Conway blow hands Seifert unexpected chance

It was a memorable day for New Zealand when they knocked England out in midweek, but one of mixed emotions for Devon Conway.

The wicketkeeper-batsman made 46 before he was stumped giving Liam Livingstone the charge and he reacted by punching his bat, inflicting further pain on himself by breaking his hand.

Conway will miss the final as a result of that furious response to his dismissal, so Tim Seifert comes into the side.

Seifert has big shoes to fill, as Conway has been a revelation in his short international career so far. The left-hander scored 129 runs at an average of 32.25 in his first T20 World Cup.

Stand-in keeper Seifert made only eight in his only appearance of this tournament against Pakistan after coming in at seven in the order. He averages 24.24 in 33 T20I knocks.

 

Warner silencing the doubters

Questions were raised about David Warner's place in the Australia side ahead of the tournament after he was dropped by Sunrisers Hyderabad during the Indian Premier League.

The opener has shown his class in the United Arab Emirates, making 236 runs from six innings at an average of 47.20 

Only Matthew Hayden (265 in 2007) and Shane Watson (249 in 2012) have scored more for Australia in a single edition of a T20 World Cup.

Warner’s 35 boundaries in the campaign (28 fours, 7 sixes) are the joint-most by any player in the tournament (level with Mohammad Rizwan and Jos Buttler).

Australia showed the strength of their batting line-up in a five-wicket win over a Pakistan side that had won every match to cruise into the last four, Matthew Wade blasting a brilliant 41 not out off 17 balls and Marcus Stoinis making an unbeaten 40 after Warner's rapid 49.

New Zealand batsman Devon Conway has been ruled out of the T20 World Cup final after suffering a broken right hand.

The 30-year-old sustained the injury when he struck his bat in frustration after being dismissed in Wednesday's thrilling semi-final win over England in Abu Dhabi.

An X-ray on Thursday confirmed a break to the fifth metacarpal in his right hand.

Conway had been one of the Black Caps' stars in the win over England, striking 46 from 38 balls, but he will have to watch Sunday's clash with Australia from the stands.

He will also miss New Zealand's three T20Is in India following the final and two subsequent Tests against the same nation.

Coach Gary Stead said: "He's absolutely gutted to be ruled out like this at this time.

"Devon is hugely passionate about playing for the Black Caps and no one is more disappointed at the moment than he is, so we're really trying to rally around him.

"It looked a pretty innocuous reactionary incident on the field, but the blow obviously caught the bat between the glove padding, and while it's not the smartest thing he's done, there's certainly an element of bad luck in the injury."

Pakistan captain Babar Azam acknowledged that Hasan Ali's drop of Matthew Wade was crucial as Australia made it into the T20 World Cup final.

Mohammed Rizwan (67) led the way before fireworks from Fakhar Zaman (55 not out) guided Pakistan to 176-4 from their 20-over allocation in Thursday's semi-final.

Australia were then teetering on the brink in response when Glenn Maxwell was dismissed, leaving Aaron Finch's side 96-5 after 12.2 overs and requiring a further 81 off 46 balls.

However, Wade (41 not out) – who finished with three straight sixes after being dropped by Ali in the penultimate over – and Marcus Stoinis (40 not out) edged Australia to victory to tee up a final with New Zealand.

The result came as somewhat of a surprise given Pakistan coasted through Group 2 with five wins from their five games to set up the semi-final with Australia, who nudged through Group 1 on net run rate.

After the game, Babar pinpointed the missed chance – in which Ali dropped Wade on the deep-midwicket boundary from Shaheen Afridi's bowling – as the defining moment in a contest of fine margins.

"When you give teams like Australia a chance, they take the match away from you," Babar said post-match. "If that catch that Hasan Ali dropped had been taken, maybe the result would have been different.

"As a player, you have to be on your toes and avail any opportunity you get. We made a mistake and it cost us the match."

Pakistan's dominant performance up until the knockout stages included a historic 10-wicket victory over India and a five-wicket win over New Zealand, who succeeded against England in Wednesday's semi-final.

Babar pointed to his team's prior performances as he expressed his pride in Pakistan's efforts, despite Australia's lower middle order once again stunning them as they did in the 2010 T20 World Cup semi-final.

"The way we played the tournament and gelled together as a team, I am very satisfied with my team's efforts as captain," he continued.

"We'll try and learn from our mistakes and come back stronger. When you play a big tournament so well, it's good but you have to perform on the day. You can't relax in any department.

"We'll try and continue our efforts; how we performed gave us confidence and we'll try and build on from that.

"The roles we had defined for everyone, they executed brilliantly, and you saw that from us on the field. The way the crowd supported us was very enjoyable. We always enjoy ourselves here and I'm thankful to the fans back home for supporting us."

Aaron Finch lauded the depth of his Australia squad as they dug deep to beat Pakistan and advance to the T20 World Cup final, led by Matthew Wade's late show.

Australia were set 177 to win after putting Pakistan in to bat in Thursday's second semi-final.

"I was actually hoping I'd lose the toss and try to bat first on that wicket," captain Finch said afterwards. "I thought it would be nice to put a total on the board in the semi-final."

The Australia skipper was delighted with how his decision panned out, though, as his team followed New Zealand's example against England and chased down a daunting target with an over to spare.

Finch's men looked to be in trouble when they were reduced to 96-5 in the 13th over, having lost the captain for a golden duck as Pakistan made a rapid start.

But Australia have dangerous options right down their batting line-up and an unbroken partnership of 81 off just 41 deliveries between Wade (41) and Marcus Stoinis (40) stunned Pakistan.

"I thought we were actually pretty sloppy today. We dropped a couple of chances in the field, a couple of really, really tough ones, no doubt," Finch said.

"But I think it shows the depth of our team at the moment, which is really important. You need the support of all 17 players in your squad to get across the line. We played some really good cricket towards the back end."

Wade finished with three straight sixes immediately after being dropped by the hapless Hasan Ali, and he said: "When I got out there with Marcus, he was really confident we'd get them, even though I was a little unsure.

"He found the boundaries early on, and I was happy to chip in at the end. It got down to two a ball, and from there it was: if you got one in your arc, just try to hit it.

"It probably hasn't sunk in yet but I'm just happy I could contribute. I was out of the team a couple of years ago and I'm just glad I got an opportunity and repaid the faith."

Australia successfully executed another astonishing semi-final run chase to beat Pakistan by five wickets and join New Zealand in the T20 World Cup final.

New Zealand had stunned England in the first semi on Thursday, and Australia followed suit thanks to Matthew Wade's unbeaten 41 off 17, taking the match away from Pakistan just as they looked to be in the driving seat.

As in the encounter between the Black Caps and England, momentum swung back and forth in an epic at Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

Australia won the toss and decided to bowl, but David Warner and Adam Zampa each dropped early half-chances from Mohammad Rizwan, who capitalised to score 67 in building big partnerships with Babar Azam (39) and Fakhar Zaman (55 not out).

Zaman hit seven boundaries, including four sixes, off just 32 balls to ensure a big finish and a total of 176-4, and Pakistan were in the ascendancy as Shaheen Shah Afridi (1-35) then made a blistering start with the ball, removing Aaron Finch for a duck and seeing Mitchell Marsh survive only by umpire's call from the very next delivery.

But the depth of Australia's batting line-up kept them in with a shout as they were left with enough depth even after David Warner (49) fell to Shadab Khan (4-26).

A mammoth undefeated partnership of 81 off just 41 deliveries between Wade and Marcus Stoinis (40 no) got the job done, although it should have been halted by Hasan Ali, who dropped Wade off Afridi in the middle of the 19th over.

Wade's response was ruthless, sending the next three balls for six to complete an outstanding pursuit on 177-5 with six balls to spare.

Rizwan rockets to runs record

Babar – this stadium's leading T20I run scorer – already had four fifties at this tournament, a joint-record at a single T20 World Cup, and he looked on course for a new benchmark until Zampa intervened at the end of the 10th over.

Rather than slow Pakistan, though, that wicket set the stage for an innings-defining second-wicket stand from Rizwan and Zaman, who combined for 72 off 46, including 21 in the 17th over alone.

Zaman's big hitting caught the eye, but Rizwan's four sixes helped take him to 1,000 T20I runs in 2021. He is the first player to reach four figures in a single calendar year.

Hapless Hasan lets Wade win it

Shadab was a rare positive with the ball for Pakistan, becoming only the second bowler to take four wickets in a T20 World Cup semi or final after Ajantha Mendis' 4-12 in the 2012 decider. His bowling economy of 6.50 was far and away his side's best effort.

Even his other misfiring team-mates paled next to Hasan, who must have thought his evening could get no worse after giving up 11 runs an over after using his full quota.

But Hasan's attempts to make amends saw him make up good ground to get under a ball from Wade, only to run too far, let the chance slip through his hands and watch on in despair as the batsman took the tournament away from a previously unbeaten Pakistan side.

Australia's chief selector George Bailey has confirmed Marcus Harris will open in the first Ashes Test against England at the Gabba.

Harris only averages 23.77 from 19 Test innings, with the second of his two half-centuries coming against India in January 2019 after scoring his first in the same series.

The 29-year-old staked a strong claim by making a 19th first-class hundred for Victoria against New South Wales in the Sheffield Shield last month.

Bailey says Harris deserves his chance to open along with David Warner in the opening Test against England in Brisbane, which starts on December 8.

"It gives you great confidence as a selector when you know your opening batters are locked away as far as a Test series go," Bailey told RSN radio.

"It's a hard spot to bat and to get those places settle, it's really important. Harry's only had a limited opportunity in the past, and he's been in and out a bit, so we'd love nothing more than for him to hopefully to get an opportunity to get an extended run at it.

"What we have liked is his consistency. He's obviously been a prolific run-scorer at domestic level here, but also love the fact he went overseas and had a great year for Leicester as well."

Will Pucovski would have been a rival for Harris at the top of the order, but suffered another concussion setback.

Marcus Smith starts at fly-half and Owen Farrell returns at inside centre, while Manu Tuilagi moves to the wing when England face Australia on Saturday.

Smith came off the bench in the 69-3 thrashing of Tonga last weekend but will make his third Test start in place of George Furbank against the Wallabies at Twickenham.

Captain Farrell comes back into the team after missing the drubbing of the Pacific island nation due to his positive coronavirus test.

Tuilagi shifts from midfield to the right wing, with Jonny May on the other flank, and Maro Itoje will make his 50th appearance for his country in an unchanged pack.

Bevan Rodd and Raffi Quirke could make their debuts off the bench, but Joe Marler will not feature after the prop tested positive for COVID-19.

England head coach Eddie Jones said: "We know this will be a tough test for us, we're playing against a team who have been together a while and who have beat the world champions twice. As an Australian, I know how much this game means.

"We've had a really good week of preparation, we're looking to improve our performance this week and I think this side is building well."

England: Freddie Steward, Manu Tuilagi, Henry Slade, Owen Farrell (captain), Jonny May, Marcus Smith, Ben Youngs; Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Jonny Hill, Courtney Lawes, Sam Underhill, Tom Curry.

Replacements: Jamie Blamire, Bevan Rodd, Will Stuart, Charlie Ewels, Alex Dombrandt, Sam Simmonds, Raffi Quirke, Max Malins.

Saudi Arabia remain top of World Cup qualifying Group B after they held second-placed Australia to a goalless draw in a feisty contest at the Western Sydney Stadium.

Playing their first home game since October 2019 and backed by an expectant crowd in driving rain on Thursday, the Socceroos were devoid of quality in the final third as they had to settle for a point.

Herve Renard's men lost their 100 per cent record, but remain three points clear of Australia and on course to secure their place in the World Cup in Qatar next year.

The Socceroos - missing Tom Rogic, Aaron Mooy and Adam Taggart - made a strong start but lacked a cutting edge as Ajdin Hrustic was off target before Awer Mabil fired wide.

Graham Arnold's side continued to dictate the play after the break, with Mathew Leckie forcing a save from Mohammed Al Yami and Jackson Irvine side-footing wastefully wide from close range.

Al Yami denied Martin Boyle with his feet after making a hard work of keeping out a tame Mabil free-kick, while Mat Ryan thwarted Salman Al-Faraj and Salem Al Dawsari at the other end.

Australia defender Harry Souttar was carried off with a serious looking injury before Saleh Al-Shehri nodded just wide and Salem Al-Dawsari had a long-range drive saved by Ryan as Saudi Arabia finished strongly 

Al-Dawsari called Ryan into action again with a long-range drive, but neither side could conjure up a winner on a miserable evening in Parramatta.

Pakistan have taken on all comers in the T20 World Cup and will look to end Australia's hopes of winning a maiden title at the semi-final stage on Thursday.

Babar Azam's side made a statement when they hammered fierce rivals India by 10 wickets in their opening match of the tournament and they have never looked back, winning all five Super 12 games.

Australia qualified as runners-up to England in Group 1 as they strive to win the T20 World Cup for the first time and have come out on top in their previous two T20Is against Pakistan.

Pakistan had won five in a row versus Australia in the shortest format prior to those two losses.

Matthew Hayden stated that he believes being a "warrior of Australian cricket over two decades" can give Pakistan an edge in his role as batting consultant for this tournament.

Pakistan's only T20 World Cup title was won back in 2009 and they were beaten by Australia in a semi-final the following year.

Stats Perform usese Opta data to preview the second semi-final at Dubai International Stadium on Thursday, with the winner facing England or New Zealand at the same venue three days later.

Brilliant Babar leading by example

Pakistan's classy run machine Babar has been outstanding with the bat and his captaincy in this tournament.

The prolific skipper has made four scores of least 50 in this tournament, only the third player to do so in a T20 World Cup. Australia great Hayden (four in 2007) and India captain Virat Kohli (four in 2014) are the other two.

Babar is the leading run-scorer in the competition with 264 from five innings at an average of 66 and a strike rate of 128.15.

Paceman Shaheen Afridi has been magnificent with the ball, forcing a false shot from a batter with 44 per cent of his 120 deliveries – the highest rate of any player at the Super 12 stage to bowl more than a single innings.

Haris Rauf has also made a big impact and is Pakistan's leading wicket-taker with eight to Afridi's six for the only team with a 100 per cent record in the Super 12s.

 

Zampa providing Australia x-factor

Spinner Adam Zampa has been one of Australia's leading lights on their run to the last four.

The tweaker has claimed 11 wickets at an average of just 9.90, with only Sri Lanka's Wanindu Hasaranga (16) having taken more scalps. His figures of 5-19 against Bangladesh are the best in the tournament.

Zampa has finished four of his five innings in the tournament with a bowling economy below six runs per over after having done so only once in his 17 innings prior. 

Paceman Josh Hazlewood has also maintained his outstanding form on the back of an Indian Premier League triumph with Chennai Super Kings.

Hazlewood has taken eight wickets with a strike rate of 11.87, delivering with the new ball time and again, and Australia will be looking for him to make early inroads along with Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc.

 

Aaron Finch believes his Australia team are proving their critics wrong as they prepare to do battle for a place in the T20 World Cup final.

Australia headed into the World Cup in poor form in the shortest format, having recorded five successive series defeats, leaving captain Finch and head coach Justin Langer under pressure.

An eight-wicket thrashing at the hands of England in their third game of the Super 12 stage left them on the brink of an exit, but wins over Bangladesh and West Indies proved enough to seal their place in the last four.

Pakistan, the only unbeaten team remaining at the World Cup, stand between Australia and a showdown against either England or New Zealand in Sunday's final.

Finch accepts many commentators may have written Australia off before the tournament started, but he insists the team only had one goal in mind when they arrived in the United Arab Emirates.

"It's just one of those things that in the lead-up to the tournament you tend to hear things or see the odd quote or comment that people have written you off," Finch told reporters.

"It's interesting how the narrative can change really quick. About 10 days ago, our team was too old, and now, we're an experienced team.

"That's just how it all gets portrayed. From day one, I've had a lot of confidence in the way that we've gone about this with the squad that we've got. I don't think that we've exceeded our expectations whatsoever. We came here with a really clear plan to win this tournament, and we're still alive to do that."

 

With Australia hosting the 2022 T20 World Cup, Finch is hopeful their efforts in recent weeks have set them in good stead for the future, even if their attempts to clinch silverware this time around fall short.

"One thing I'm really proud of is how we've started to uncover a little bit more depth in T20 cricket in Australia," he said.

"Some guys who mightn't have got an opportunity in the past if everyone was available, they got a good opportunity to test themselves in international cricket.I think in the long run, over the next two or three years, this period of Australian cricket will help us uncover more talent and more depth, especially in the white-ball format.

"That's something I'm really proud of. Although the results previous to this World Cup hadn't gone our way a huge amount, there was so much learning that we got out of that."

Australia have won their past two T20Is against Pakistan, having lost their prior five encounters in the format, and have won three of their past five meetings at the T20 World Cup.

However, Pakistan have won their past six T20Is – the last time they won more in succession in the format was a nine-game streak from July 2018 to November 2018, which included five straight wins against Australia.

Matthew Hayden says the fact he was a "warrior for Australian cricket over two decades" can help Pakistan reach the T20 World Cup final.

Legendary former Australia opening batsman Hayden was appointed as Pakistan's batting consultant for the tournament in the United Arab Emirates.

The 50-year-old has been trying to plot Australia's downfall ahead of a semi-final showdown at Dubai International Stadium on Thursday and thinks his insights can be key for Pakistan.

He said: "It is a very unusual feeling. I was a warrior for Australian cricket over two decades, so that does give me the benefit of having wonderful insights, not only into these players but also into the culture of cricket in Australia.

"From my point of view there is the challenge of the heart, the challenge of the mind in terms of what's going to happen over the next 24 hours, but I'll also say very proudly that it’s been wonderful to be a part of Pakistan cricket."

Hayden says it will not be a case of him pitting his wits against Australia head coach Langer - who he had such a successful opening partnership with.

"Justin Langer and myself are in similar positions, insofar as a national coach or a batting coach never wins a game of cricket," said Hayden.

"The 11 that take part in the game win the game, and we are back-up only."

Pakistan have won six consecutive T20Is, their longest winning run in the shortest format since a nine-game streak in 2018, which included five straight wins against Australia

However, Australia have come out on top in the previous two T20Is between the nations.

England will be without Joe Marler when they face Australia at Twickenham on Saturday after the prop tested positive for coronavirus.

Marler returned a positive lateral flow test on Monday and immediately went into isolation.

The 31-year-old will isolate for 10 days after a PCR test confirmed he has contracted COVID-19.

All of the other England players and staff returned negative lateral flow tests, with additional PCR test results not yet received.

Owen Farrell rejoined the squad on Monday after he missed the 69-3 hammering of Tonga on Saturday, having tested positive for coronavirus last week.

Marler came off the bench in that thrashing at Twickenham, but will play no part against the Wallabies.

He will hope to be available to return when Eddie Jones' side take on world champions South Africa on November 20.

Australia will tour Pakistan for the first time in 24 years, it was announced on Monday.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) confirmed details of a month-long tour in March and April 2022 comprising three Test matches, three ODIs and one T20I.

The Tests will be held in Karachi, Rawalpindi and Lahore in March, with the latter also hosting the white-ball matches.

While the Tests will form part of the ICC World Test Championship, the one-day matches will be linked to the ICC Cricket World Cup Super League, a 13-team event from which seven qualifiers and host nation India will progress to the final tournament in 2023.

Speaking of Australia's first visit since 1998, PCB chairman Ramiz Raja said: "I am delighted to welcome Australia to Pakistan. From a personal point of view, it pleases me no end that we'll be engaged in a three-Test match series, connoisseurs delight.

"Australia are one of the high-performing sides and them playing in our backyard for the first time after a gap of 24 years will be a special treat for the fans.

"Likewise, it will be a great opportunity for the Australia cricketers to not only play at our iconic venues but also feel and enjoy the respect, love and hospitality that this great country offers, something which most of their previous generation of cricketers missed out by playing offshore."

Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley: "Cricket Australia is excited about the prospect of touring Pakistan next year for what will be a highly anticipated series in a country so incredibly passionate about the game and their national team.

"Pakistan is a formidable opposition with an exceptionally talented team, as evidenced by their dynamic performances in the current ICC Men's T20 World Cup in the UAE.

"We thank the PCB for their considerable efforts in planning for the tour and look forward to continuing to work closely over the coming months to finalise the necessary operations, logistics, security and Covid-19 protocols.

"The safety and welfare of our players and staff remains our number one priority, and we will continue to work with the PCB and relevant agencies to ensure that appropriate and sufficient arrangements are put in place for the tour."

Australia won the series 1-0 in their previous tour of Pakistan, which was their first since Richie Benaud's side won 2-0 in 1959-60.

The previous four series between the countries have been held offshore, most recently in 2018-19, when Pakistan won 1-0 in the United Arab Emirates.

Rory Burns says Ben Stokes' return to the England Test squad in time for the Ashes tour of Australia has provided "a massive boost".

Stokes was initially omitted from the squad for the away series as he recovered from a second operation on a broken finger and took a break from cricket to protect his mental wellbeing.

But the all-rounder gave Joe Root's side a huge lift last week by declaring he was ready to make his comeback, and he flew out to Australia on Thursday.

He will be available, barring any fitness issues, for the first Test at The Gabba on December 8.

 

Stokes was a star of the previous Ashes series in 2019, albeit his heroics in a famous Headingley Test did not prove enough for England to reclaim the urn.

And Burns explained the confidence boost Stokes' timely return has provided.

"It's obviously a massive boost, you know. To get Stokesy back in the side and back in the squad and back around things is obviously a massive boost for us," the opener told reporters.

"We all know what a good player he is. I don't really have to tell you about that. To get a bloke of his calibre and background back in our group is obviously a massive lift for us."

Stokes' return may have come as a surprise to some, but not Burns, who said: "I wasn't actually that surprised. I kind of felt like something was bubbling away.

"So, it was nice when I saw it announced. Because it is exciting and we want to get out there and have the best side possible, and obviously Ben adds to that in a massive way."

Burns impressed in the 2019 series, scoring 133 in the first innings of his Ashes debut before going on to record two more half-centuries (53 and 81).

"I think, from a personal standpoint, I played quite nicely in my only Ashes series to date," Burns continued.

"That was in my home conditions and those sort of things; we are probably going to get some different conditions out here in Australia. There is confidence there but also, at the same time, it's just taking what's in front of you every step of the way."

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