Murphy bowled only 9.3 overs and two one-over stints during England's successful chase at Headingley after replacing the injured Nathan Lyon.

What England says is unlikely to be high on Australia’s priority list when picking their XI at Old Trafford, but Moeen Ali believes they must play Todd Murphy as a frontline spinner.

Murphy bowled only 9.3 overs at Headingley and two one-over periods during England’s victorious chase after replacing the injured Nathan Lyon, and one option would have been to go without a specialist spinner to accommodate the fit-again Cameron Green.

However, Australia has yet to field an all-pace attack since the 2011-12 Test against India in Perth, and it is expected that spin will play a role in the fourth Test, despite the weekend’s inclement weather. Pat Cummins, Andrew McDonald, and on-tour selector Tony Dodemaide evaluated the surface once the rain stopped during England’s training session.

Spin bowling has a lengthy history in Ashes cricket at Old Trafford, not least Shane Warne’s ball of the century in 1993. Warne used the bounce and turn on offer at the stadium, claiming 21 wickets in three matches, whereas Lyon had less success in his two appearances in 2013 and 2019, each taking three wickets.

Despite its reputation for aiding spin, the ground has had the second-highest average for spinners of men’s Test grounds in England over the last 10 years. However, Moeen, who has taken 16 wickets at 18.50 in three Tests at Old Trafford, believes that a frontline spinner is essential and that how Cummins uses Murphy will be an important aspect of the game.

“You have to play a spinner in a Test match, in my opinion, no matter where it is, but Old Trafford especially,” Moeen added. “I think they used him [Murphy] in a difficult way, and I think the chase was difficult because we would have preferred to face a spinner.” [They were] missing Nathan Lyon, who has been a massive part of the team and does an incredible job for them.

“Todd’s good, he looks perfect, he has a lot of potential, and I’m sure he’ll bowl a lot more here.” It’s not always simple for a captain to deploy someone relatively new to the team, especially a spinner, and that’s where captaincy comes into play now.

This week, Murphy will play a much more significant role.

“Because when you have a good spinner like Swanny [Graeme Swann] or Nathan Lyon, it’s quite simple, just give them the ball.” But now it’ll be a test of true captaincy for Pat, and we’ll see how good you are now, but he’s done a terrific job so far.

Josh Hazlewood, who took six wickets in Australia’s 2019 Ashes victory at Old Trafford, is likely to replace Scott Boland, who sat out at Headingley, and he believes Murphy will play a far more significant role this week.

“I think I was a little underdone for the World Test Championship [final] and then got ready for the first game.” I wasn’t too rusty out there in the center. “You feel a lot better for the run once you’ve finished that big day of work.” – Hazlewood, Josh.

“Todd’s had a great start to his career, particularly in the subcontinent against some of the best spin players in the world, India,” he remarked. “I know we’ll miss Gazza [Lyon] from time to time in the field, but I think Todd has done a great job as his understudy so far and expect the same again.”

More hints about Australia’s makeup appeared available during their training session on Monday. David Warner fielded at first slip and Mitchell Marsh in the gully, while Green was with the reserve players despite having a bowl on the square earlier in the afternoon.

Meanwhile, Hazlewood is hopeful of completing the final two Tests. After being dropped from the World Test Championship final squad, he played back-to-back first-class matches at Edgbaston and Lord’s, where he took eight wickets for the first time since 2020-21.

“In terms of what Test matches usually look like for us,” he continued, “we haven’t bowled a lot of overs.” “The way England plays allows us to be on the field for a little less time.” I had a nice feeling heading into [Headingley]. Now that I can step back and look at the broad picture, I made the right decision. I was eager to play. But it makes sense now.

“I was probably underdone for that World Test Championship before getting ready for the first game.” I wasn’t too rusty out there in the center. After finishing that big workday, you’ll feel better about the run. As time passed, I felt better and better. Hopefully, I’ll be ready to go after that brief respite.”


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