England’s early exit from the World Cup is already guaranteed but assistant coach Carl Hopkinson insists their bottom-of-the-table clash against the Netherlands is no “dead rubber”.

As the tournament finally edges towards the business end, the defending champions have long since become an afterthought in the wider context of the competition.

They have lost six of their seven games and saw their last mathematical chance of a miracle wiped off the table by rivals Australia in Ahmedabad last week.

The best they can hope for now is avoiding a first ever ODI defeat to the Dutch, the only associate nation competing in India, and keep their prospects of reaching the 2025 Champions Trophy alive.

They need a top-eight finish to book their spot, meaning there is no leeway for wallowing in their dreadful form when they take the field in Pune on Wednesday.

The appearance of Hopkinson, a low-key member of the backroom team responsible primarily for fielding, suggested the squad were not keen on issuing their own public call to arms, but he has no qualms about their motivation.

“I don’t think there’s ever a dead rubber when you play for England, to be honest. I think the lads are completely up for it,” he said.

“We’ve got two games in which we need to win both to qualify for the Champions Trophy, so I think that’s there for everybody to see. The guys are going to be obviously up for it and I think we’ll be good.

“We need to win and win well to qualify for the Champions Trophy, which is what we need to do.”

On his unexpected role as carrier of the England message, he added: “I’m not quite sure why I’m the man to explain, (but) I’m an assistant coach with the England team and I’m more than happy to come out and speak about our campaign so far.”

England have named an unchanged side for the last three games, losing emphatically to Sri Lanka, India and Australia, and could belatedly mix things up.

Harry Brook is on hand to add ballast to a badly under-performing top six, but could be added in place of all-rounder Liam Livingstone rather than one of the specialist batters.

Livingstone adds an extra spin option but has not been able to carry his share of the run-scoring load, with just 60 runs in six innings.

Pace bowler Mark Wood, who has been managing a sore knee, could also miss out with Brydon Carse and Gus Atkinson snapping at his heels for a chance.

Wood is the fastest seamer in the squad by a distance, consistently clearing 90mph, but has struggled to keep a lid on his economy rate and has only six wickets at 58.16.

Carse and Atkinson are both likely to form part of England’s white-ball future, leaving captain Jos Buttler and coach Matthew Mott to decide whether now is the time to blood them in a game with live stakes.

Ben Stokes’ fitness was under observation on the eve of the match, with the Test captain carrying various niggles. He missed the first three games here with a hip problem and is set to undergo surgery on his long-standing left-knee injury when he gets back to England.

Former England quick Steve Harmison told the PA news agency this week that the team management should instruct Stokes to leave the camp and go home early in a bid to fast-track his recovery for the new-year Test series in India.

But Hopkinson suggested that idea was not under consideration.

“Knowing Ben, he’ll want to try and play the next game in front of him and try and win that for England,” he said.

“He’s about winning games of cricket for England, so I’d imagine that’s what he’ll be thinking about first and foremost.

“Once he’s obviously made that decision to have the operation, that’s obviously booked in and that’s what he’s going to do, but it’s not before this tournament finishes.”

Mark Wood has denied England were sidetracked by contract negotiations at the World Cup but admitted performances need to improve to live up to the new terms.

The England and Wales Cricket Board has revamped its central contract system in a bid to ward off the growing threat from T20 franchises, handing out long-term deals for the first time in addition to the usual annual extensions.

Wood was one of three players to sign a lucrative three-year term, having previously admitted that a huge offer to play in the United Arab Emirates was testing his resolve, with Joe Root and Harry Brook following suit.

The ECB hoped to have agreements in place before the tournament in India but, while some were finalised swiftly, others dragged on into the campaign and the announcement was finally made last week.

By then England had already played four times, losing three, and things have continued to veer off course, leaving the defending champions rock bottom in 10th place after six rounds.

Wood does not believe the two issues are linked but acknowledges the timing of England’s unexpected dip in results has not been helpful.

“I don’t think they were a distraction, no,” he said.

“If we’re trying to look for excuses, I think players need to look at themselves a little bit more, me included.

“But we’ve not lived up to that reward of the contract. I can understand people’s frustration. I would totally get that.

“Obviously when lads are rewarded with things and then they don’t perform at the level that you think, that’s justified. But it’s not through lack of trying. We are trying our hardest to get this right.

“There’s no cracks in the group. There’s no falling out. Everyone is generally trying to do it for each other. We believe in each other. It’s just not happening the way we want.”

Wood was honest about his own status, insisting that turning out for his country remained his primary motivation while acknowledging the financial muscle being flexed by franchise owners.

At 33, and with a long history of fitness issues behind him, he sought security and was pleased to see the ECB provide it.

“My motivation has always been to play for England. That was always what I’ve wanted to do as a kid growing up. That’s the pinnacle for me, so I’m delighted with the deal,” he said.

“I had some positive conversation with (ECB managing director of men’s cricket) Rob Key, to see if he wanted me to stay in the team or what he envisioned for me going forward with England.

“He said that I was part of the plans and I’m obviously delighted to have signed three years. It gives me security for me and my family.

“But I would definitely have had to consider (franchise offers), which is why I had lots of conversations with Keysy behind the scenes.

“As an injury-prone lad, if I ever have trouble, I’ll be well looked after by England physios.

“If you’re effectively self-employed, you go to these teams and say ‘Who wants me?’. But if I have a bad season or you get a bad injury, who then looks after you? So now I’m looked after by England and employed by England.”

England’s next match sees them take on Australia in Ahmedabad on Saturday, a renewal of hostilities between the old rivals after a tense Ashes summer.

Wood excelled for England in the series, helping inspire his side to a 2-2 draw after coming into the side 2-0 down.

Australia head into the match as favourites given England’s recent struggles and their own strong form, but Wood is still hoping to shift the balance.

“It’s completely different conditions, different players, different timing, different form (from the Ashes) but we’ve played against them for years,” he said.

“In one-day cricket, we’ve done well against them in recent times. I don’t think they’ll be going into this game pooing their pants, but it’s up to us to change that.”

Mark Wood has denied England were sidetracked by contract negotiations at the World Cup but admitted performances need to improve to live up to the new terms.

The England and Wales Cricket Board has revamped its central contract system in a bid to ward off the growing threat from T20 franchises, handing out long-term deals for the first time in addition to the usual annual extensions.

Wood was one of three players to sign a lucrative three-year term, having previously admitted that a huge offer to play in the United Arab Emirates was testing his resolve, with Joe Root and Harry Brook following suit.

The ECB hoped to have agreements in place before the tournament in India but, while some were finalised swiftly, others dragged on into the campaign and the announcement was finally made last week.

By then England had already played four times, losing three, and things have continued to veer off course, leaving the defending champions rock bottom in 10th place after six rounds.

Wood does not believe the two issues are linked but acknowledges the timing of England’s unexpected dip in results has not been helpful.

“I don’t think they were a distraction, no,” he said.

“If we’re trying to look for excuses, I think players need to look at themselves a little bit more, me included.

“But we’ve not lived up to that reward of the contract. I can understand people’s frustration. I would totally get that.

“Obviously when lads are rewarded with things and then they don’t perform at the level that you think, that’s justified. But it’s not through lack of trying. We are trying our hardest to get this right.

“There’s no cracks in the group. There’s no falling out. Everyone is generally trying to do it for each other. We believe in each other. It’s just not happening the way we want.”

Wood was honest about his own status, insisting that turning out for his country remained his primary motivation while acknowledging the financial muscle being flexed by franchise owners.

At 33, and with a long history of fitness issues behind him, he sought security and was pleased to see the ECB provide it.

“My motivation has always been to play for England. That was always what I’ve wanted to do as a kid growing up. That’s the pinnacle for me, so I’m delighted with the deal,” he said.

“I had some positive conversation with (ECB managing director of men’s cricket) Rob Key, to see if he wanted me to stay in the team or what he envisioned for me going forward with England.

“He said that I was part of the plans and I’m obviously delighted to have signed three years. It gives me security for me and my family.

“But I would definitely have had to consider (franchise offers), which is why I had lots of conversations with Keysy behind the scenes.

“As an injury-prone lad, if I ever have trouble, I’ll be well looked after by England physios.

“If you’re effectively self-employed, you go to these teams and say ‘Who wants me?’. But if I have a bad season or you get a bad injury, who then looks after you? So now I’m looked after by England and employed by England.”

England’s next match sees them take on Australia in Ahmedabad on Saturday, a renewal of hostilities between the old rivals after a tense Ashes summer.

Wood excelled for England in the series, helping inspire his side to a 2-2 draw after coming into the side 2-0 down.

Australia head into the match as favourites given England’s recent struggles and their own strong form, but Wood is still hoping to shift the balance.

“It’s completely different conditions, different players, different timing, different form (from the Ashes) but we’ve played against them for years,” he said.

“In one-day cricket, we’ve done well against them in recent times. I don’t think they’ll be going into this game pooing their pants, but it’s up to us to change that.”

Mark Wood has warned England not to rely on their injured “Messiah” Ben Stokes to ride to the rescue after a punishing start to their World Cup defence.

The 2019 champions were roundly thrashed by New Zealand in the tournament opener in Ahmedabad, going down by nine wickets as Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra shared an unbroken stand of 273.

Stokes, the hero of the Lord’s final four years ago and newly back in the ODI fold after reversing his retirement, missed out with a left hip problem and cut a frustrated figure as he watched on from the dugout.

Details of the Test captain’s fitness are sparse but he has struggled with a longstanding left knee problem in recent years and has already been ruled out as a bowling option in the World Cup to ease the load on his body.

England would love to welcome him back for Tuesday’s clash against Bangladesh in the Himalayan city of Dharamasala, but there is no guarantee he will be cleared for action.

Whether or not he makes it, Wood wants the rest of the squad to take their own responsibility for turning things around.

“It’s not all just about ‘the Messiah’ Stokesy coming back and him doing everything. I don’t want to put too much pressure on him,” said his Durham team-mate.

“He’s not Superman. He’s been through tough situations. Other people have to stand up as well. He’s obviously one of our best players, if not our best player, but all the lads have to stand up as well.”

Wood offered an uncertain update on Stokes’ current status, but England have already made it clear they will not gamble so early in their six-week stay.

“I don’t know (how he is), but he’s got strapping round his leg, which is helping,” said Wood.

“He’ll have to get in the nets and see if the strapping does its job and allows him to move how he wants. It’s not just about batting, it’s in the field too.

“Obviously we want Stokesy back – he’s a huge player. We’ll just have to assess with the medical team. It’s not up to me.”

Former captain Eoin Morgan, the man who masterminded England’s white-ball revolution and lifted the World Cup at Lord’s four years ago, emphasised the influential role Stokes still has to play – on and off the field.

“Ben Stokes’ return will be key. The difference he makes is invaluable and there is no measure on the impact he has in a changing room,” Morgan said.

“He believes he can achieve anything from any sort of circumstances and has backed that up in match-winning performances. He breeds confidence and belief. After a defeat like that, he will no doubt be speaking in that changing room.

“His words hold a lot of weight because they are backed up by performance. He will have had a great view of the whole game and hopefully he’ll be back on the field as soon as possible.”

Wood, meanwhile, has plenty to consider after he was put to the sword by Conway and Ravindra. Playing his first ODI since March he sent down five wicketless overs for 55 and was thrashed for seven fours and two pulled sixes.

He missed the recent home series against New Zealand due to a sore heel but he insisted the only pain he felt after Thursday’s game was psychological.

“I’m a bit battered mentally, from watching the ball going over my head a lot of times, but physically I feel OK,” he said.

“It’s fine to let it hurt but then we’ll refocus on the next game. We’ll move on pretty quickly. We want to keep this trophy, to prove people wrong. There’ll be question marks now but, as a group, we believe in each other.”

The World Cup gets under way on Thursday with the status of one-day internationals dwindling as Twenty20 continues to take precedence.

England have played fewer ODIs heading into this tournament than for any World Cup in almost 30 years and here, the PA news agency looks at the changing nature of the international calendar.

Has the ODI bubble burst?

The first two World Cups, in 1975 and 1979, were played with ODIs barely yet an established format – the first fixture took place on January 5, 1971 but only 53 were played all decade outside of those tournaments.

Post-1979, England’s 42 ODIs in the four-year cycle leading up to this World Cup marks their third-lowest total and their fewest since the 1996 tournament, when they had played only 38 in between World Cups. They played 40 leading up to 1983.

The picture is similar for the other leading ODI nations, with India’s 66 ODIs also their third-lowest in a World Cup cycle in that time and exceeding the four-year periods up to 1996 (63) and 1983 (27).

Australia’s 44 is their lowest excluding the 1970s tournaments, with 64 leading up to the 1983 World Cup and at least 75 on every other occasion since.

The four-year cycle was briefly broken by a switch to even-numbered years in the 1990s. There were five years between the tournaments in 1987 and 1992 and only three up to 1999, when the regular pattern was re-established.

Twenty20 vision

The decline of the 50-over game has been brought about by the rise of the shortest format and this cycle is the first time T20 internationals have made up the largest share of England’s fixtures.

With 68 games, excluding those abandoned without a ball bowled, T20 accounts for 40.8 per cent of England’s games since the 50-over World Cup final against New Zealand on July 14, 2019.

They have played 58 Tests in that time (34.3 per cent) and only 42 ODIs (24.9 per cent), the lowest share of England’s fixtures for the latter format since the years leading up to the 1975 World Cup when they played 50 Tests to 17 ODIs.

T20 was only introduced for the first time in 2005 and made up just 2.8 per cent of England’s games between the 2003 and 2007 World Cups. That had jumped to 20.4 per cent in the next cycle and has doubled in the years since.

Feeling the squeeze

With all three formats battling for their place in the calendar, something has to give.

Ben Stokes, the hero of England’s 2019 World Cup win, shockingly announced his retirement from the format last year with a warning that “there is too much cricket rammed in for people to play all three formats now”.

He has returned for this World Cup – but as a specialist batter, with knee problems inhibiting his bowling – but his prolonged absence hinted at a wider trend.

Eight of the 2019 World Cup-winning squad also appear in the group this time around – captain Jos Buttler, Stokes, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood.

They had played an average of 74.1 per cent of England’s games between the 2015 and 2019 tournaments, with Rashid at 94.3 per cent, but none have even reached that average mark in the years since.

Moeen’s 73.8 per cent is the leading figure, with the average down to 48.8. Wood has played just 19 per cent, below even Stokes’ 31 per cent.

England bowler Mark Wood could decline a central contract in pursuit of franchise cricket – as Michael Atherton declared the Test format of the game is “withering in front of our eyes.”

Wood, 33, may miss the first three matches of England’s five-Test tour in India – which starts on January 25 – after being offered a reported £500,000 to play in the UAE T20 league.

Wood, who starred for England in the recent Ashes series and set a new record for the fastest over in an international match at Headingley, has stated he is keen to continue playing for his country.

But in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Wood said: “I don’t know what will happen at the minute. Playing both (India Tests and Dubai T20) is not a viable option for England.

“England will want me to be there for all the five Tests, not just part-time or some of it. I will wait and see what happens with the up-and-coming central contracts and then make a decision from there.

“At the minute the World Cup is a massive focus, the other thing is my agent and Rob Key knows where I stand. I love playing for England, I want to play for England as long as I can, but it just depends on what they say.

“But time away from home, the financial side of things now, there are more things in play than just solely my love of playing for England.”

The England and Wales Cricket Board is set to table a number of multi-year contracts to stave off interest from T20 franchises.

But it has been reported that the governing body is struggling to compete with big-money offers from the IPL-backed leagues.

Writing in the Times, former England captain Atherton, 55, said: “For as long as I have been writing in this space — essentially since the advent of the Indian Premier League in 2007 — there have been warnings about the threat to Test and international cricket.

“At times, in those early days, it felt like a howl in the dark, although now it is generally accepted that the five-day game and bilateral international cricket is withering in front of our eyes.

“It seemed clear to me that the advent of the free market through the rise of franchise cricket, and the popularity of T20, was both a huge opportunity and, unless some careful thought was given to how the game was structured, a threat to the established norms. It needed some foresight, wisdom and planning, all of which have proved to be sadly lacking.

“I don’t write about it so much now, partly to avoid being seen as a bore, but also because I think it’s too late. The game has been set on a path from which there is no evident will, from anyone, to divert.”

England’s men’s Ashes stars will be assessed before a decision is made on their availability for The Hundred, but those who have had heavy workloads are likely to miss the first couple of matches at least.

A congested schedule that has compressed five Tests into less than seven weeks is set to conclude at the Kia Oval on Monday, with the third edition of the 100-ball competition beginning the following day.

Ben Stokes did not feature at all last year and England’s Test captain mentioned in his pre-match press conference he would be going on holiday at the conclusion of the series against Australia.

Longstanding concerns about Stokes’ left knee – he is planning to have “serious conversations” about having an operation as England are not playing another Test until January – means the Northern Superchargers might not see their talismanic all-rounder for the entire four-week campaign.

Such an outcome would be a blow to the tournament that has faced questions over its long-term viability, although the England and Wales Cricket Board has publicly quashed any concerns, while none of the touring Ashes squad will feature this year.

Fast bowlers Mark Wood and Chris Woakes have also had injury niggles before and during the Ashes, so their availability for London Spirit and Birmingham Phoenix respectively could be impacted.

Another consideration is the fact the pair are crucial to England’s defence of their 50-over World Cup crown later this year, as is Jonny Bairstow, who plays for Welsh Fire but may be in need of rest after being an ever-present in England’s failed pursuit of the urn on his return from a horrific broken leg.

Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Joe Root, Harry Brook and Moeen Ali, who has been nursing a sore spinning finger throughout the Ashes, are the others unlikely to be thrust into duty in The Hundred straight away.

An ECB spokesperson said: “Players who have featured in the LV= Insurance men’s Ashes will be assessed at the end of the series and their availability for The Hundred decided accordingly.

“Assessments are made by the England science and medicine team, in consultation with the player.”

Lauren Bell will be absent for Southern Brave’s first two fixtures, as will Sophia Dunkley for new team Welsh Fire, but all other England players that were involved in the women’s Ashes series which finished last week are available from the off.

The men’s and women’s Hundred runs concurrently, with the group stage lasting until August 24, with the eliminator and the final taking place two and three days later.

England captain Ben Stokes had an unusual start to his Ashes press conference on Wednesday, with team-mate Mark Wood interrupting the session with a burst of ‘Barbie Girl’.

Stokes had just sat down to take questions ahead of the fifth Test against Australia when the opening bars of Aqua’s 1997 pop hit began reverberating around the Kia Oval’s indoor school.

Stokes, who was five years old when the novelty track became a UK number one, took the moment in his stride as he puffed his cheeks in deadpan fashion before before correctly guessing the culprit.

Looking up and over his shoulder towards the team gym, he shouted “Woody” as laughter from the assembled journalists replaced the music.

Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie, starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, launched in cinemas in the UK last week.

Stokes proceeded to name an unchanged XI and spent 15 minutes speaking to reporters, but Wood’s DJ set was not quite complete.

As Stokes finished his appearance and stood up to leave, Wood reprised the prank by playing The Imperial March by composer John Williams – better known as the song that heralds the appearance of Darth Vader in the Star Wars movies.

Jonny Bairstow was stranded one short of a dazzling Ashes century and Mark Wood blew a hole in Australia’s top order as England continued their fourth Test domination of Australia.

Bairstow was left high and dry on 99 not out from just 81 balls as England blazed their way to 592 on day three at Emirates Old Trafford, building on Zak Crawley’s 189-run blitz on Thursday.

That gave them a commanding lead of 275 over their increasingly beleaguered rivals, who made an uncertain 113 for four in reply and now find themselves relying on a poor weekend weather forecast to escape with a draw.

Wood, once again hurdling the 90mph barrier to unsettle the Australians, claimed three for 17 as Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith and Travis Head all succumbed.

Bairstow has had an eventful series – falling victim to a deeply controversial stumping at Lord’s, making some costly wicketkeeping errors and even tussling with a Just Stop Oil protester – but put himself in the thick of things for all the right reasons with an outstanding innings.

England were 67 ahead overnight and 120 in front when he arrived at the crease, but his dominant strokeplay piled on the misery for the Australians.

Despite a ring of boundary riders trying to shut him down he hammered four sixes and 10 fours to carry his side to their highest Ashes total at home since 1985.

Bairstow’s controlled aggression was deserving of a hundred but, after expertly managing the strike for the majority of his time with the tail, he found himself stuck at the non-striker’s end after deciding against a risky second that could have got him there.

Last man James Anderson was trapped lbw by Cameron Green’s next ball, stopping Bairstow in his tracks and making him just the third English batter to finish undefeated on 99.

Sir Geoffrey Boycott (1979) and Alex Tudor (1999) are the only others to suffer that fate, but Bairstow was grinning broadly as he left the pitch.

He has been eyeing a measure of revenge ever since his divisive dismissal in the second Test at Lord’s and helped himself to a healthy portion.

Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood were both on the receiving end of muscular sixes thrashed into the leg-side, but Bairstow would have taken most satisfaction from the pair of furious blows off Pat Cummins, the Australia captain who refused to withdraw the appeal at Lord’s.

Cummins, who has looked bereft of energy and inspiration this week, ended up with figures of one for 129, the worst analysis of his career.

Bairstow also took liberties against fellow wicketkeeper Alex Carey, the man who threw down his stumps to kick off the ‘spirit of cricket’ rumpus in the first place.

In a bid to shield Anderson from the strike, Bairstow charged through for a bye on several occasions despite the ball carrying cleanly through to Carey’s gloves.

To the audible delight of the crowd, Carey repeatedly failed to hit the target from exactly the same range he had done so two games ago.

England’s day started in typically lively fashion, with a morning session that added 122 runs and four wickets to the scoreboard in just 24 overs.

There were half-centuries for Ben Stokes (51) and Harry Brook (61), and some success for Hazlewood, who finished with five for 126 amid the carnage.

Bairstow was afforded a centurion’s ovation as he left the field, the Manchester crowd overlooking the small matter of a missing single, but did not linger over the moment. His mind was already trained on the next job, with 12 overs to bowl before tea.

Wood was brought on for the 10th and needed just two deliveries to have Usman Khawaja caught behind.

Australia began the evening session on 39 for one, and proceeded to cough up more top-order talent on a pitch that was playing true.

David Warner was first for 28, continuing a poor series by steering Woakes back into his stumps with an uncertain poke outside off.

Woakes thought he had Smith for a duck but saw the TV umpire rule in the batter’s favour when assessing an uncertain slip catch. It looked an extremely close call but the indifferent reaction of the catcher, Joe Root, might have settled it.

In the end it took Wood’s hostility to keep England on the front foot. After bowling just three overs out of the first 28, he returned for a final blast and took Smith and Head with him.

Smith gloved a catch down leg, clearly hurried by the speed, and Head got into an awful position as he fended a rapid bouncer away from his chest and straight to Ben Duckett at gully.

England quick Mark Wood is eager to hit Australia with more “thunderbolts” in Manchester next week and aims to prove “lightning strikes twice” after his Headingley heroics.

Wood marked his return to Ashes cricket with a stirring player-of-the-match showing in Leeds, taking match figures of seven for 100 and hitting 40 vital runs from just 16 deliveries.

His efforts helped change the tone of the series, getting England on the board after back-to-back defeats and leaving the path open for the hosts to reclaim the urn against all odds.

Wood’s raw pace provided an X-factor that had been absent at Edgbaston and Lord’s, with his first ball of the match doubling up as England’s fastest of the summer.

He continued cranking it up in his first red-ball outing for seven months, at one stage reaching 96.5mph during a ferocious opening spell, and Australia’s batting looked entirely less assured due to his mere presence on the park.

Wood revealed his England captain and Durham team-mate Ben Stokes had given him one simple instruction when he let him loose.

“Ben just asked me, ‘Are you ready? Are you ready to bowl some thunderbolts?’ I said yes and that was it,” he said.

“He was ready to unleash me. I know him well and he knows me well. Having that relationship with someone makes it easier.”

Asked if he was ready to dish out more of the same at Emirates Old Trafford next Wednesday, Wood replied with a grin: “Absolutely. Lightning strikes twice, eh?”

Wood is arguably the most consistently fast bowler ever to play for England, a crown he likely lacks only due to the absence of accurate historical data.

But the sheer physical exertion the 33-year-old puts himself through means he has had to endure long spells out of the side.

Since debuting in 2015 he has played just 29 of England’s 109 Tests, missing many of those through injury, yet Wood has set his sights on finishing strongly this summer.

There are just three days between the fourth and fifth games of the series, but, with a week to get himself ready, he fully intends to be on parade for both.

“I did four in Australia last time and three of them were in a row. It’s a big ask, but one I’ve done before and I will lean on that experience to try to do it again,” he said.

“I will speak to the physio, but I imagine I will bowl once or twice, do a couple of gym sessions, maybe some running, but it won’t be too drastic. I have to let the body recover.

“This was my first game in a very, very long time, especially in Test cricket. I will let the body recover, get myself in a good space, let the wounds recover and get myself up for the next one.”

Wood wears his heart on his sleeve on and off the field and could not hide his satisfaction at taking up a starring role midway through a contest that has captured the imagination of the public.

“It fills me with great pride to say I can do well against Australia. It’s challenging because they are a top, top side,” he said.

“It’s one of the best feelings I’ve had. Look at facing Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc. One, it’s not easy. Two, it’s really intimidating.

“They’re bowling fast, they get good bounce and more often than not they come out on top. Luckily this time it’s the one out of 100 I’ve managed to get through.

“The 2005 Ashes was the absolute pinnacle for me – I was at a great age, a teenager, and my hometown hero (Steve Harmison) was playing.

“I don’t feel like it’s to that magnitude, but it’s great to have the support, which has been amazing everywhere we’ve been. You feel it on the street walking around, people messaging you. It’s amazing as a nation that we can carry this weight of support with us.”

Harry Brook announced himself on the Ashes stage with a match-winning knock for England that kept the series alive and delivered another memorable Headingley climax.

Brook batted with great maturity as he made a steely 75, taking a decisive chunk out of the 251-run target and set a fire under this summer’s rivalry, leaving Australia 2-1 ahead with two to play.

The Yorkshireman fell with 21 still needed as the third Test descended into nerve-shredding tension, but Mark Wood cut through the anxiety with a feisty 16 not out and Chris Woakes completed a remarkable return to the Test arena by crunching the winning runs towards the delirious Western Terrace to finish unbeaten on 32.

England’s three-wicket win was achieved despite Ben Stokes’ dismissal for just 13, a soft nick down the leg-side robbing the hosts of their inspirational captain and the architect of their 2019 Ashes miracle at the start of the decisive final session.

But in Brook they had a new hero, ready to carry the burden all the way to final furlong before passing it over to Woakes and Wood – making an emphatic first impression on their belated introductions to the series.

Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow can bat away their costly dropped catches as England look to assume control of an evenly-poised third Test at Headingley.

The Yorkshire pair each put down two chances on the opening day, with Root’s spillage of Mitch Marsh on 12 especially expensive as the recalled Australia all-rounder went on to make a run-a-ball 118.

Mark Wood took five for 34 with his breakneck pace as Australia were all out for 263, with Root and Bairstow unbeaten at stumps as England, 2-0 down in the five-match series, closed on 68 for three.

Much has been made of how Bairstow might react after his controversial stumping at Lord’s but he will be hoping his bat can do the talking as it did so emphatically did during last year’s golden summer.

What they said

Four years on from his most recent Test appearance – when he declared “most of Australia hate me” because of his inconsistency – Marsh might be feeling the love even more after his rescue-act. Called in because of a niggle to Cameron Green, the 31-year-old flayed his third Test hundred – all of them have come against England – and chipped in with the wicket of Zak Crawley for good measure.

Butter-fingered England

England’s subpar fielding in this series has frequently been cited as the major difference between the two sides – and there were another four dropped catches on Thursday. Bairstow can be forgiven for being unable to reel in a tough chance when Steve Smith was on four but the England wicketkeeper put down an easier chance down the leg-side when Travis Head was on nine. Root then put down regulation catches with Marsh on 12 and Alex Carey on four before slamming the ball into the turf in frustration at himself after holding on to Head. In total, the lackadaisical efforts cost England a whopping 158 runs.

England grateful for five-star Wood

Fitness concerns precluded Wood’s involvement at Edgbaston and Lord’s but he was worth the wait after dealing almost exclusively in speeds upwards of 90mph here, topping out at 96.5mph. He ended his first spell by flattening the leg stump of Usman Khawaja while he wiped out Australia’s lower order to finish with his first five-wicket haul at home. Every ball he bowled was an event with none of Australia’s batters looking comfortable against him. Wood has been a must-have overseas but this display summed up what a handful he can be in any conditions and why England are desperate to keep him on the park.

Headingley boo-boys

Emotions have been running high so there was some anticipation – and maybe a little trepidation – at how Headingley’s Western Terrace crowd would react. One of the liveliest and noisiest stands in the country made their presence felt by booing Australia captain Pat Cummins at the toss, while Carey was serenaded with ‘stand up if you hate Carey’ when he was batting. They seemed delighted by Cummins getting a two-ball duck and Carey being sconed on the helmet by Wood – even if the pair’s days ended better. Given they were at the forefront of the controversial Bairstow stumping at Lord’s, how they were received in Leeds is no surprise. The pantomime jeers of Smith and David Warner seem to have returned as well, harking back to how they were welcomed in England in 2019 after ball-tampering bans. Overall, though, any nerves at tensions potentially boiling over appear to have been unfounded.

Warner’s unsweet 16

Stuart Broad has enough time to climb to the top of this list with a possible five more innings at Warner, for whom retirement might not be able to come soon enough. The Australia opener’s latest downfall to his nemesis came when he was persuaded to push away from his body with the ball kissing the edge and carrying to Crawley, who pouched a chest-high catch at second slip.

Robinson squashed?

Ollie Robinson’s relatively quiet series continued as he went wicketless in his first 11 overs before trudging off the field after sending down just two balls of his 12th before tea. An England and Wales Cricket Board spokesperson confirmed a back spasm had curtailed his day. As for whether he will be able to bowl in Australia’s second innings, watch this space.

A burst of breakneck speed from Mark Wood breathed life into England’s Ashes campaign as the third Test got off to a feisty start at Headingley.

Four days on from the stumping controversy that dogged the previous match at Lord’s, Wood bamboozled Australia with express pace that topped 96 miles per hour and claimed five for 34 in the tourists’ 263 all out.

A one-man show from comeback kid Mitch Marsh was responsible for the majority of those runs, but his breathtaking run-a-ball 118 would not have been possible had Joe Root not put him down at slip with just 12 to his name.

That was one of four drops for an England side whose collection of missed chances is starting to become a worrying theme of the summer.

Root, with 19 not out, has the chance to make amends with the bat on day two with England 68 for three in response.

With him at the crease is Jonny Bairstow, the man at the centre of last Sunday’s flashpoint dismissal and one who always brings his best when there is a score to settle.

Australia’s struggles either side of Marsh’s fireworks – four for 91 in the morning session and a collapse of six for 23 as Wood mopped up – went down well with a raucous crowd, who booed and barracked the opposition with gusto all day.

The two players involved in Bairstow’s controversial dismissal copped the worst of the anger but both held their nerve, Cummins dismissing Ben Duckett and Harry Brook and Carey pulling off a fine leaping catch.

But the moment belonged to Wood, making his first Test appearance since December and held back for the first two matches due to worries over his fitness, as he recorded his best ever performance on home soil.

England have rung the changes as they seek to keep the Ashes alive in this week’s third Test at Headingley, with three alterations to the XI and a promotion for Harry Brook.

Brook is slated to step up to number three in place of Ollie Pope, whose summer is over due to a dislocated shoulder, while Moeen Ali, Mark Wood and Chris Woakes all return to the bowling attack.

With just three days between games, record wicket-taker James Anderson is rested after two modest performances, with Josh Tongue also stood down after an encouraging outing at Lord’s.

At 2-0 down with three to play, England are in now-or-never territory and have opted to overhaul not just the personnel, but the balance of their side.

While they are effectively one specialist batter down in Pope’s absence, the addition of Moeen and Woakes strengthens the lower order in response.

Wood’s belated introduction into the series – he was considered for last week’s second Test but there were some concerns over his workload – also gives England skipper Ben Stokes the express pace option he has been craving.

Stuart Broad and Ollie Robinson top the wicket charts with 11 and 10 respectively, but England have been outmatched for air speed so far and Wood’s ability to hit up to 96mph gives Stokes a new weapon to unsettle the tourists.

Woakes makes his first appearance of the ‘Bazball’ era and Moeen is back in action after a badly-blistered right index finger saw him miss out at Lord’s.

England have rung the changes as they seek to keep the Ashes alive in this week’s third Test at Headingley, with three alterations to the XI and a promotion for Harry Brook.

Brook is slated to step up to number three in place of Ollie Pope, whose summer is over due to a dislocated shoulder, while Moeen Ali, Mark Wood and Chris Woakes all return to the bowling attack.

With just three days between games, record wicket-taker James Anderson is rested after two modest performances, with Josh Tongue also stood down after an encouraging outing at Lord’s.

At 2-0 down with three to play, England are in now-or-never territory and have opted to overhaul not just the personnel, but the balance of their side.

While they are effectively one specialist batter down in Pope’s absence, the addition of Moeen and Woakes strengthens the lower order in response.

Wood’s belated introduction into the series – he was considered for last week’s second Test but there were some concerns over his workload – also gives England skipper Ben Stokes the express pace option he has been craving.

Stuart Broad and Ollie Robinson top the wicket charts with 11 and 10 respectively, but England have been outmatched for air speed so far and Wood’s ability to hit up to 96mph gives Stokes a new weapon to unsettle the tourists.

Woakes makes his first appearance of the ‘Bazball’ era and Moeen is back in action after a badly-blistered right index finger saw him miss out at Lord’s.

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