Moeen Ali has backed the returning James Anderson to make his mark this week as England look to level the Ashes on the pacer’s home turf and take the series with Australia to a decider.
The 40-year-old replaces Ollie Robinson in the only change made by England captain Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum for the fourth Test, which starts in Manchester tomorrow.
England went 2-0 down in the series before winning the third Test at Headingley last week and must now triumph at Old Trafford to keep alive their hopes of recovering the Urn, with a draw enough to ensure Australia retain the Ashes.
Ashes there for the taking
Moeen will bat at No3 due to the continued absence of Ollie Pope, who dislocated a shoulder at Lord’s in the second Test.
“There’s no doubt England are a better team with James Anderson in it,” said Moeen.
“He’s the best bowler we have and have had over the years, 100 per cent.
“Jimmy’s Jimmy, even in the first two games I actually thought he bowled really well. He’s been a bit unfortunate with catches and things not going his way.
“I think anybody that plays at their home ground for England, it’s amazing, but especially for him having his own end here. Being the best bowler England have ever had, being a legend of a player and a great guy as well, it’s great to see him have the opportunity to play what could be his last one [Test at Old Trafford]. Hopefully he bowls well and gets us the win.”
England have not lost an Ashes series on these shores since 2001 but Australia could change that this week by retaining the urn without needing a result at the Oval in the fifth Test next week.
England have not won an Ashes Test at Old Trafford since 1981, when they beat the tourists by 103 runs, Ian Botham scoring 118 in the second innings.
The fourth Test begins tomorrow and could run until Sunday.