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James Anderson back in England XI for Old Trafford Test

Veteran seamer replaces Ollie Robinson while Moeen Ali carded at No. 3

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
James Anderson has taken three wickets in the series so far  •  PA Images via Getty Images

James Anderson has taken three wickets in the series so far  •  PA Images via Getty Images

James Anderson has been recalled to the England team for the fourth men's Ashes Test, which starts on Wednesday at his home ground, Emirates Old Trafford.
Anderson was rested for England's victory in the third Test at Headingley after taking three wickets at 75.33 in the first two Tests of the series, but will return in place of Ollie Robinson in England's only personnel change. Robinson declared himself "100 percent fit" to play last week but looked short of his best in Leeds even before suffering a back spasm.
But there is another significant change from the team that started the Headingley Test, with Moeen Ali carded to bat at No. 3. Moeen batted at No. 7 in the first innings in Leeds, but asked to be pushed up the order in the second, thereby enabling Harry Brook to return to his favoured No. 5 spot.
Moeen made only 5 in his new role, but the change was vindicated by Brook's 75 in a more familiar position. England have retained the same batting order, with Ben Stokes due to come in at No. 6 and Jonny Bairstow keeping wicket and batting at No. 7.
Stokes, England's captain, hinted at Anderson's inclusion in Manchester before the Headingley Test, saying Anderson would have the opportunity to get some rest and prepare "to charge in from the James Anderson End at Old Trafford next week".
Anderson returned from a groin injury, sustained playing for Lancashire, at the start of the series and was some way short of his best. But Stuart Broad, his long-time new-ball partner, believes that Anderson was "unlucky" with both the timing of his injury and the pitches.
"At Lord's, we had six of the best bowlers in the world bowling cross-seam bouncers, which tells you all you need to know about what the pitch was offering from a good length," Broad wrote in his Mail on Sunday column.
"But Jimmy has been one of the world's best bowlers for a long time and he can put those issues behind him. He's bowled goodness knows how many overs at Old Trafford and I'm expecting a big performance from him in a high-pressure game."
Anderson himself acknowledged in his Telegraph column last week that his selection for the Old Trafford Test could not be governed by "nostalgia", even though he conceded that, with his 41st birthday approaching this month, it might be his final opportunity to play on his Lancashire home ground.
His record there, however, is excellent - 37 wickets at 22.02 in ten previous Tests, including a vital role in last year's series-levelling win against South Africa.
Moeen himself was unequivocal: "There's no doubt England are a better team with James Anderson in it," he said. "Even in the first two games, I actually thought he bowled really well. When he feels like, or people say, that he doesn't bowl well, he doesn't go for any runs... he's been a bit unfortunate with catches and things not going his way.
"[For] anybody that plays at their home ground for England, it's amazing, but especially for him having his own end here," Moeen added. "Being the best bowler England have ever had, being a legend of a player and a great guy as well, it's great to see him have the opportunity to play what could be his last one. Hopefully he bowls well and gets us the win."
Moeen's own promotion to No. 3 came about when, on the third evening of the third Test, he approached Brendon McCullum and suggested a reshuffle. "We thought that him coming in at No. 3, he was able to impact the game more than he would be at No. 7," Stokes explained.
Stokes said that the move epitomised the "selfless" approach he looked for from his team. "I just love the fact that Mo is willing to put himself in those situations; that he wants to get out there and help the team in a positive way… Mo going to Baz and saying, 'I want the opportunity' is everything that we're about as a team."
Moeen said that he felt as though shuffling up the order was the best thing for the team as a whole, if not necessarily for him. "Brooky is a great player and will be a great player," he said. "I just personally feel No. 5 is great for him: the impact he can have there is much more than he probably can at No. 3 at the moment. I'm not saying he won't be a great No. 3, I just feel right now, for the team, it's probably best I go No. 3."
He has scored 92 runs in his seven Test innings at No. 3, but has nine first-class hundreds in the role, having frequently batted there for Worcestershire in county cricket. "It's obviously going to be challenging batting No. 3 vs Australia, the best bowling attack in the world… but it's not totally alien. If I'm seeing the ball well, I might be aggressive. If they're bowling well… I'll try and bat as properly as I can."
England XI for fourth Test: 1 Zak Crawley, 2 Ben Duckett, 3 Moeen Ali, 4 Joe Root, 5 Harry Brook, 6 Ben Stokes (capt), 7 Jonny Bairstow (wk), 8 Chris Woakes, 9 Mark Wood, 10 Stuart Broad, 11 James Anderson

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98