For a must-win, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, and Moeen Ali are back. the Headingley Test

Have we seen the last of James Anderson in Ashes cricket?

In place of James Anderson, Josh Tongue, and the injured Ollie Pope for the third Ashes Test on Thursday at Headingley, England has made three changes, with Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, and Moeen Ali all returning to the starting XI.

The starting lineup was announced just before England’s skipper Ben Stokes spoke to the media at Headingley. His team needs to win to start overcoming a 2-0 deficit after losses at Edgbaston and Lord’s.

Anderson’s was the most anticipated shift out of the three. After labeling the Edgbaston pitch as “kryptonite,” England’s short-ball strategy at Lord’s also deviated from his usual swing-bowling techniques. He has taken three wickets at an unimpressive rate of 75.33 in the first three matches of his eleventh Ashes campaign.

He is replaced by Chris Woakes, who has not participated in a home Test since September 2021 but whose 94 wickets at a strike rate of 22.63 in England make him the logical like-for-like alternative. In the absence of Pope, who will miss the summer due to a dislocated right shoulder, Woakes’ batting skill is a plus after England fielded an abnormally long tail at Lord’s. He averages 35.25 at home and has hit 105 half-centuries.

“We’re obviously devastated for Popey,”

Stokes said.

“He’s been a huge part of what we’ve managed to achieve over the last 18 months and obviously, being vice captain, it’s a real shame not only for us, but also for him in such a big series.”

With Essex’s Dan Lawrence the only backup option in their squad, Moeen’s return gives the lower-middle order more stability, which is another reason why England chose not to replace Pope with a different batter. 

Despite having a quiet series thus far, Harry Brook has been given Pope’s position at No. 3. However, Stokes acknowledged that his own workload as an allrounder – following a taxing 12-over spell in the second innings at Lord’s – had been a major factor in packing the side with extra bowling options.

“Obviously Dan was in the squad as the next batter in, but there were a few more things to consider,” Stokes said. “I’m not gonna lie, last week took it out of me a little bit, so a big part of it was what would be the best team if I wasn’t to bowl a ball in this game, in the worst case scenario? That doesn’t mean I’m not going to bowl, but that was a huge part of the thinking about the team that we picked.”

In the first four innings of the series, Brook has scored 132 runs at an average of 33. However, he has come under fire for a soft dismissal at Lord’s after reaching his half-century. However, Stokes said that his elevation to No. 3 and Bairstow’s move to No. 5, which he filled during his spectacular run of form in 2022, had been “pretty simple” choices.

“Last summer, Brookie was in the squad and was the next player in, and when you’ve got a player like Brookie, from one to six, he would have come in in any position,” Stokes said. “We feel that Brookie is a type of player who will just take the responsibility and just crack on with it.

“We obviously want to keep Joe [Root] at four because he’s a remarkable player, and Jonny moving up to five was just to get him into the game earlier. The things he did last summer from the No.5 position are quite hard to look past.”

Despite missing the Lord’s Test due to a cut on the knuckle of his spinning finger, Moeen has been given the all-clear to continue his return to the format. He made his maiden appearance in the first Test at Edgbaston after quitting at the conclusion of the India series in 2021, and he is still short of two wickets to reach 200 in Tests.

After being substantially outpaced on the speed gun in the first two Tests, Wood’s additional pace provides England with a real competitive advantage. He returns for his first Test since the December tour of Pakistan and his first competitive game in any form of cricket since his fiery performances for Lucknow SuperGiants in the IPL in April, skipping the Lord’s Test to ensure his preparation for action.

Josh Tongue, who made a strong impression in his debut Ashes games at Lord’s and finished with five wickets, including Steve Smith and David Warner in both innings, replaces him. Tongue put in a passionate performance in the match.

In contrast, Stokes was convinced that Wood’s selection over Anderson did not mean the end of the line for England’s best fast bowler, a point he had conveyed to the entire bowling unit prior to the start of the series.

“We were very open and honest, and clear with each other before the series started, that it’s going to be very tough to ask all the bowlers to play every game this summer,”

Stokes said.

“It’s a good chance for Jimmy to have a rest and then get ready to charge in from the Jimmy Anderson End at Old Trafford next week. But it’s great to have Woody fit. He’s firing and really ready to go this week, and we’re looking forward to seeing him get going.”

England Squad: 1 Zak Crawley, 2 Ben Duckett, 3 Harry Brook, 4 Joe Root, 5 Jonny Bairstow (wk), 6 Ben Stokes (capt), 7 Moeen Ali, 8 Chris Woakes, 9 Ollie Robinson, 10 Stuart Broad, 11 Mark Wood