Test match cricket returns to Headingley this week for the first time since Ben Stokes made that astonishing, series-saving century in the Ashes in 2019.
Two years later and England again finds itself in a sticky predicament in Leeds — and can’t fall back on its star all-rounder to bail the team out this time.
A heavily depleted bowling attack. An out-of-form and unstable batting lineup. A 1-0 deficit against a fired-up opponent.
England has it all to do in the third Test of the five-match series against India starting Wednesday, which comes against the backdrop of an off-the-field scandal that has left a cloud hanging over English cricket — and especially the county side hosting the match.
The Indians’ 151-run victory in the second test was secured on a dramatic final day at Lord’s when England was bullied into submission in a fractious environment that saw lots of sledging from both teams. There might be plenty of respect for their respective abilities as batsmen, but there’s clearly no love lost between England captain Joe Root and his Indian counterpart, Virat Kohli.
“There’s the theater and everything else surrounding the game. We’ve got to make sure that we play the game how we want to play and we look after that as best as we can, and not get too distracted or drawn into anything that’s not honest,” Root said in a video call after arriving at Headingley.
“We’ve got to be genuine to ourselves, genuine to how we are as individuals and how we are collectively and be as good as we can, the way that we go. Virat’s team will play how they play.”