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Three things we learned from the third Ashes Test

England's Mark Wood (R) celebrates Chris Woakes (L) after Woakes hits a boundary to win the third Ashes Test. Photo: Paul Ellis/AFP

England's Mark Wood (R) celebrates Chris Woakes (L) after Woakes hits a boundary to win the third Ashes Test. Photo: Paul Ellis/AFP

Published Jul 10, 2023


England revived their Ashes hopes with a dramatic three-wicket win over Australia in the fourth Ashes Test at Headingley as they chased down a target of 251 on Sunday.

Below AFP Sport looks at three things we learned from a match that left Ben Stokes's men 2-1 down with two to play against world Test champions Australia.

Wood shows the need for speed

Mark Wood showed England what they had been missing on his return to the side as the Durham fast bowler regularly topped speeds of 90 mph during a blistering return of 5-34 in Australia's first innings.

The quickest England bowler of his generation, Wood's career has been blighted by injuries, notably a succession of ankle problems.

But as he demonstrated at Headingley, his blistering speed is a valuable point of difference.

Player-of-the-match Wood's clean ball-striking down the order also meant the 33-year-old added priceless runs in both innings, with his uncomplicated but highly effective boundary-hitting helping England win on Sunday with more than a day to spare.

Woakes proves his worth

It is Chris Woakes' misfortune his Test career as an England paceman and all-rounder has coincided with that of two outstanding talents in James Anderson and Ben Stokes.

Injuries too haven't helped his cause with the result that, since his debut in 2013, Woakes has appeared in just 46 Tests -- a relatively small number over a decade given England's volume of red-ball cricket.

But the 34-year-old has rarely complained about his lot and at Headingley -- in his first Test in over a year -- he again showed his value, particularly in English conditions.

With Anderson rested and Ollie Robinson suffering a first-innings back spasm, Woakes returned match figures of 6-141 that would have been even better but for catches dropped off his bowling.

And with England faltering at 171-6 in their run chase, Woakes gave Harry Brook (who made 75) much-needed support in a partnership of 59 before hitting the winning runs himself as he finished on 32 not out.

Marsh ends exile in style

Australia's Mitchell Marsh thought his only role on the tour would be as an understudy to fellow all-rounder Cameron Green.

But instead he ended a four-year absence from the Test arena with a remarkable run-a-ball 118 that was the centrepiece of Australia's first-innings 263 where the next highest score was Travis Head's 39.

Marsh, the son and brother of two Australia internationals in Geoff and Shaun Marsh, also took two wickets in the match with his lively medium pace to leave the selectors with a real headache heading into a fourth Test at Old Trafford where Green, the man he replaced at Headingley, is expected to be fit.

The 31-year-old now boasts superb Test averages against England of over 50 with the bat and under 24 with the ball.

But in Leeds he also delivered a nice line of self-deprecating humour, with Marsh joking that, due to his back-up role, he was the "first man to score an Ashes hundred on a UK holiday".