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Anderson omitted as England ring changes for third Ashes Test

England have left out all-time leading wicket-taker James Anderson in one of three changes to their side for a must-win third Ashes Test against Australia at Headingley starting Thursday, with express quick Mark Wood, seam-bowling all-rounder Chris Woakes and spinner Moeen Ali recalled.

Both Anderson and fellow paceman Josh Tongue have been rested as England bid to keep the Ashes alive at 2-0 down in the five-Test series following a 43-run defeat at Lord’s last week.

England captain Ben Stokes’s stunning 155 gave his side hope of an improbable win at Lord’s following the disputed stumping of Jonny Bairstow, given out when he thought the ball was dead.

But all-rounder Stokes, who has been struggling with a longstanding knee problem, bowled just 15 overs across two innings at Lord’s and he said his fitness had been a factor in England’s team selection for Headingley.

“I’m not going to lie, last week sort of took it out of me a little bit,” Stokes told reporters on Wednesday. “So a big part of something that I had to think of was what would be the best team if I wasn’t to bowl a ball this game, in the worst-case scenario.

“It doesn’t mean I’m not going to bowl but that was a huge part of the thinking about the team that we picked.”

Anderson’s 688 wickets are the most by any fast bowler in Test history, but the 40-year-old swing specialist has struggled in this series, with just three wickets at more than 75 apiece.

Wood ‘fit and firing’

Given a congested schedule — there is just a three-day turnaround between the second and third Tests — rotating England’s pace attack was always a possibility and Tongue has also made way alongside Anderson after a promising display at Lord’s.

“It’s a good chance for Jimmy to have a rest up and then get ready to charge in from the Jimmy Anderson end at Old Trafford next week,” said Stokes.

“It’s great to have Woody fit, he’s firing and ready to go this week.”

Moeen replaces Ollie Pope after the vice-captain was ruled out of the rest of the season due to dislocating his shoulder at Lord’s.

Harry Brook has been promoted up the order to take Pope’s place at No 3.

But England have not just changed personnel, they’ve also altered the balance of their side.

They are effectively a batsman down in Pope’s absence but the inclusion of Moeen and Woakes strengthens England’s lower order.

Wood’s ability to hit speeds of 96 mph gives Durham team-mate Stokes the genuine quick he’s always wanted in the England side, with the injury-prone quick now set for his first Test appearance since the final game of the 3-0 sweep away to Pakistan in December.

Woakes, meanwhile will play his first Test of the ‘Bazball’ era, having last appeared for England at this level in March 2022 in the West Indies.

Moeen returns to give England a specialist spin off after a badly-blistered right index finger kept him out at Lord’s.

Stokes, be it with deliberate defence in the first innings or all-out attack in the second, was one of the few England batsmen at Lord’s who played the situation in a match where several team-mates succumbed to needlessly rash shots.

“The only thing I would say is that our execution could have been slightly better with whatever way we decided to play last week,” said Stokes.

England team for third Test:

Ben Duckett, Zak Crawley, Harry Brook, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow (wkt), Ben Stokes (capt), Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Ollie Robinson, Stuart Broad