England have named an unchanged squad for this week’s final Ashes Test, resisting the temptation to draft in new blood as they look to square the series.
Australia guaranteed the urn would be staying Down Under after taking a 2-1 lead with a 185-run success at Old Trafford on Sunday but Joe Root’s side can still stop the tourists recording a first outright win since 2001.
The short turnaround time between matches, just three days, always meant it would be hard for England to do anything dramatic to the make-up of their squad but they have retained the same XI plus Sam Curran and Chris Woakes, who missed out on selection in Manchester.
While further changes to an already depleted bowling line-up were always unlikely, there had been some expectation of alterations to the top seven, where Joe Denly, Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler have all endured various struggles.
Dominic Sibley of Warwickshire and Kent’s Zak Crawley have both impressed the selectors at the top of the order but will not get a chance to make their debut in the final game of the international season, while Surrey’s Ollie Pope has also been kept waiting for a recall.
Question marks remain over the fitness of Ben Stokes, who injured his right shoulder over the weekend and did not bowl in Australia’s second innings.
England are due to assess him over the next 48 hours but his batting, which brought a century at Lord’s and a contender for the best-ever Test innings at Headingley, would surely guarantee his role as a specialist in the top five.
Root, meanwhile, has been defended by former assistant coach Paul Farbrace following Sunday’s defeat.
When asked if England would benefit from having Yorkshire’s Root freed from the captaincy, Farbrace said: “That’s always the question that comes up after every series. Don’t forget this is the first time England have lost a home series since 2014.
“One thing England haven’t had for the last few years is a solid top order.
“We need other people at the top of the order to score runs. It isn’t just Joe Root. Joe Root is under enormous pressure. He is England’s best player, he puts himself under extraordinary pressure. He is England’s best player, he puts himself under extraordinary pressure.”
England squad for fifth Ashes Test at The Oval: J Root (capt), J Archer, J Bairstow (wk), S Broad, R Burns, J Buttler (wk), S Curran, J Denly, J Leach, C Overton, J Roy, B Stokes, C Woakes.