Ben Stokes admitted England’s predicament in the Ashes means keeping an eye on the weather forecast and the possibility of an even bolder move in the fourth Test.
England fought back to the series with a three-wicket win at Headingley and are now 2-1 down but need to prevail at both Emirates Old Trafford and the Kia Oval to regain the ballot box from Australia.
To make matters worse for the hosts, heavy rain is forecast in Manchester on days four and five of this weekend which could prompt England to push the game ahead to ensure a result.
Under captain Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum, England have frequently flouted convention over the past 13 months to win not just games but hearts and minds.
Aggressive batting and daring calls were hallmarks of Stokes’ reign, who would not rule out his approach becoming even more unconventional when the weather intervened.
“You never want to pay too much attention to the weather, but with the situation we’re in we might have to,” Stokes said.
“We know we have to win this game to make it to the last game and have any chance of getting the urn back.
“When we went 2-0 into the last game we knew we had to win, so I think that helped us a bit.
“Maybe the predicted weather will bring us out again, knowing we might have to push the game even harder than we normally do. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
The Women’s Ashes are running in parallel and while England are out of the running to beat Australia, Heather Knight described a series that captured the public’s imagination and attracted a record number of viewers as the “best ever”.
The momentum in the male equivalent fluctuated – not just from day to day, but often hour to hour – and Stokes conceded victory this week that would set up a deciding run that would go a long way towards how fondly the series is remembered .
“If we win this game and then go 2-2 into the last game, it’s hard to say that this is the best men’s Ashes series in a long time, if not the best,” he said.
“All things considered, apart from Australia and England, the cricket played was absolutely brilliant.
“Everyone who watched on the television at the venue or at home really enjoyed the cricket that was played.
“There were some very special moments on the cricket ground, also some special individual performances. I think that’s what you expect from the sport.”
England’s record picker James Anderson will return home and name an end in his honor as he replaces Ollie Robinson in Headingley’s only substitution.
He has taken just three wickets in his first two games, averaging 75, before missing the third Test, but Stokes has no qualms about the Lancastrian, arguing his worth cannot be measured in wickets alone.
“When you’re such a high performer as Jimmy has been over the past ten years, he’s going to be disappointed that he hasn’t contributed as much to the team as he normally does,” added Stokes.
“But I said to him: ‘Even if you don’t take the wickets like you would like, you see at the other end the pressure you put on the opponents.'”
“He holds a degree without that being his main engagement with the ball. You don’t get as many wickets as he does without a bad game here and there – there’s no problem with Jimmy at all.”