England great issues Aussies with 'ultra-aggressive' fourth Test warning

The former England captain is predicting fireworks in an ominous Ashes warning for Australia.

England captain Ben Stokes is pictured on the left and Australian opposite Pat Cummins on the right.
Ben Stokes will likely take an aggressive approach on day three as England looks to ram home its advantage over Australia in the fourth Ashes Test. Pic: Getty

If the Aussies were relying on Manchester's notoriously fickle weather to save them in the fourth Ashes Test, they may have to quickly come up with a Plan B as England's foot-to-the floor batting threatens to deliver an early victory. The hosts, who have a 67-run lead with six first innings wickets in hand, are fighting two enemies at once as they attempt to level the series – the Aussies' under-manned attack and the rain.

England will look to score at a rapid clip when day three commences on Friday in the hope of building a 200-plus lead and challenging Australia to save the game. The forecast for days four and five isn't great, with heavy rain predicted on Saturday followed by a more than 50 per cent chance of rain Sunday.

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Embracing their Bazball philosophy, England will back itself to score quickly enough to take the weather out of play. "I think they've [England] got to go really ultra-aggressive," former England captain and Sky Sports pundit Nasser Hussain said.

"Either way - if they get bowled out, the game has progressed. You don't want to be left on Sunday night thinking: 'I wish we'd just given ourselves another half hour.'

"And if they don't get bowled out, you can imagine them going at seven or eight runs an over, and then their lead will be massive, which will buy them time for the weather. The forecast is poor. Everyone is going to say: 'Why do you keep going on about the forecast?' But it is poor. Really bad for Saturday, not great for Sunday.

"If you've got a ticket for (Friday) morning, get there for 11am, because Stokes, Brook, Bairstow, Woakes, Wood, go and have some fun, get the lead up to 200, and then get on with bowling. You need 20 wickets, get on with bowling."

Pictured left to right, Aussie cricket stars Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins.
Mitchell Starc's shoulder injury is among a number of headaches for Australia skipper Pat Cummins going in to day three. Pic: Getty

Pressure mounts on Aussie skipper Pat Cummins

Australia, 2-1 up in the series and only needing to avoid defeat to retain the Ashes, is paying the price for some irresponsible batting on top of a poor performance in the field. Skipper Pat Cummins has come under for his "schoolboy tactics", constantly moving fielders to where the ball has just gone as England opener Zak Crawley helped himself to a brilliant century (189 off 182 balls).

With big-hitting captain Ben Stokes and the aggressive Harry Brook to resume on day three, the home side could take the game completely away from Australia in the opening session. If England does win in Manchester, the Ashes will be on the line in the fifth Test at The Oval, starting Thursday.

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