David Willey is set to be recalled by England for Friday’s fourth one-day international against Australia on his future home ground of Headingley, with fellow seamer Chris Woakes ruled out for the rest of the series because of a thigh strain.
The 25-year-old Northamptonshire left-armer Willey, who has signed a three-year deal to play for Yorkshire from next season, made his England one-day debut at the start of the summer but has not featured since victory in the one-off Twenty20 in Cardiff on 31 August.
Willey will now step in for Eoin Morgan’s side, who have a renewed sense of optimism after ending a seven-match losing streak against the world champions on Tuesday. There is a growing belief, too, that their opponents are the ones who are starting to creak at the end of a long tour.
Australia lost three players to injury before the 93-run defeat at Old Trafford and are poised to rest their attack spearhead Mitchell Starc amid growing concerns over his energy levels. He has been an ever-present since their travels began in the Caribbean back in June but appeared jaded in Manchester, shipping one for 79 in 10 overs for the costliest figures of his one-day career.
Starc needed injections to mask the discomfort of bone spurs in his left ankle during the Ashes and has sent down more overs than any other Australian bowler this year. His absence means the tourists enter the potentially series-clinching fourth one-dayer without any of their World Cup-winning attack.
Had his fellow quick Nathan Coulter-Nile not been one of those who pulled up lame after their win at Lord’s last weekend, the head coach, Darren Lehmann, admitted Starc would already have flown back. “We wanted to try and get him home if we could; play a couple of games and bring in a younger bowler but it hasn’t played out that way. His workload over the past 12 months has been exceptional.”
Lehmann spent Thursday talking up the mooted replacement, John Hastings, but for all the worthy talents of the burly and big-hitting seamer, he represents a drop in quality from the world’s No1 one-day bowler and, having played his last international back in December 2012, will know his addition to the squad was largely down to his being in the country as Durham’s overseas player.
For England, victory would level the series at 2-2 and set up a decider back in Manchester on Sunday. The spinners Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali shared five wickets on that surface on Tuesday and, provided the match can be kept live, could hold the key to Morgan’s side securing a comeback series win on another turner.
Headingley comes first, however, and Rashid, who will play international cricket for the first time on his home ground and is currently celebrating a second County Championship winner’s medal after his Yorkshire team-mates were arithmetically crowned at Lord’s on Wednesday, is relishing the attacking role given to him by his captain this summer.
No spin bowler has taken more than his 15 one-day international wickets since the World Cup and, having made his limited-overs debut back in 2009, the 27-year-old leggie believes his success this year is down to Morgan’s instructions and the environment fostered under the head coach, Trevor Bayliss, and his assistant, Paul Farbrace.
“My job in the team is to create chances and bowl my variations,” said Rashid. “Before I came into this one-day series I had a clear mind-set of what my role is in the team and what I’m looking to do. It’s a bit of a risk but my aim is to create chances. Sometimes I might get hit for a few, sometimes I might get wickets. That’s the risk I take.”
On the current set-up, compared with those experienced previously, Rashid replied: “It’s a different set-up from when I first came in; a whole different environment. My mind-set is a lot clearer, the coaches, the captain, the mind-set of the team is a lot clearer. Times have changed.”
Rashid is set to be named in England’s touring party for the trip to the UAE to face Pakistan in October but remains calm about being forced to wait for his Test debut after being an unused squad member on both the April tour to the Caribbean and during the Ashes.
He added: “It would be nice to play but that’s a long way away. I’m not really concentrating on that. I’m just looking to take it a step at a time so that, if I do get selected in a Test series, I’ll be chuffed.”
England (possible) Roy, Hales, Taylor, Morgan (capt), Stokes, Bairstow (wk), Ali, Willey, Rashid, Plunkett, Finn.
Australia (possible) Burns, Finch, Smith (capt), Bailey, Maxwell, Marsh, Wade (wk), Agar, Hastings, Cummins, Pattinson.
Umpires Kumar Dharmasena, Michael Gough.
3rd Umpire Joel Wilson.
4th Umpire Richard Kettleborough.
Match Referee Jeff Crowe.