LONDON (ICC) - England all-rounder Ben Stokes' incredible innings to snatch a one-wicket victory for the hosts in the third Ashes Test at Headingley still worries Australia captain Tim Paine.
The series, which is currently levelled at 1-1, has reached a feverish stage, with the fourth Test at Old Trafford set to receive a sold-out crowd. Since the win in Leeds, Stokes' legend has only gotten stronger. The star all-rounder shared a 76-run tenth-wicket stand with No.11 Jack Leach to hand England an improbable win and keep their series hopes alive.
"I haven’t lost a hell of a lot of sleep thinking about my captaincy, but I have lost a bit of sleep thinking how we’re going to get Stokes out," Paine said on the eve of the Manchester Test.
"He’s a class player and he’s really confident at the moment. He’s going well. We’ve got some plans for him, but we’ve just got to execute them a bit better."
Australia only need to draw both the Tests to retain the urn, but they are not undermining England's ability to get the better of them. With the series on the line, they have made key changes to their personnel to be better prepared. Usman Khawaja has been dropped for the returning Steve Smith and Mitchell Starc has been added to the 12-man squad for the Test.
Speaking about Smith's return, Paine said: "I think everyone in the world is looking forward to watching Steve Smith bat. Steve has missed one Test match, he hasn’t been out for 12 months. He came back from a 12-month layoff pretty well, so I expect he will handle six days without batting pretty well."
Smith was ruled out of the third Test due to a concussion caused by a brutal Jofra Archer bouncer at Lord's. Archer, who is only two Tests old, was tough in his assessment of Australia and had said that they will be mentally shot after throwing away the opportunity of grabbing a 2-0 lead in Leeds.
I think everyone in the world is looking forward to watching Steve Smith bat.
"That’s the thing, never get complacent. To be fair, 359 runs is a lot of runs. The crowd started to get on their backs as well, I think they panicked a bit," Archer had said.
Paine, however, assured that Australia have moved on from the defeat and now want to concentrate all their energies at Old Trafford. "Jofra’s entitled to his opinion, he’s had plenty of those, that’s for sure. We made some mistakes, it happens, we’ve addressed it as a team. We’ve spoken about it honestly. I was certainly one of those people who made mistakes. It happens, we’ve moved on and we’re here ready for a great Test match."