|England v Pakistan, third Test|
|Venue: Ageas Bowl Dates: 21-25 August|
Captain Joe Root has asked his England team for “one big push” in the third and final Test against Pakistan.
The match in Southampton will be England’s sixth bio-secure Test in seven weeks, but Root’s men have no more scheduled this year.
“We have one more week of really hard graft,” Root told BBC Sport. “We have to give everything to the badge, the team and each other.”
England, looking for a first series win over Pakistan in 10 years, lead 1-0.
The coronavirus pandemic forced a rejig to the international summer, with England defeating West Indies 2-1 in July before the matches against Pakistan began.
A different England side beat Ireland 2-1 in three one-day internationals in between the Test series, and though more limited-overs against Pakistan and Australia will complete the summer, the Test players are not set to feature.
The T20 World Cup that was due to be played in Australia in October and November has been postponed, and no dates for any of England’s proposed winter tours of India, Sri Lanka and South Africa have been confirmed.
“My message to the guys has been quite simple,” said Root. “We don’t know the next time we will play Test cricket, so let’s throw everything into this week.
“We’ve not got Test cricket until next year. We’ve got no excuses, every opportunity to go out there and throw everything into this last game.”
England have named an unchanged 14-man squad from the drawn second Test which was ruined by bad weather.
With Ben Stokes again missing after travelling to New Zealand for personal reasons, the hosts’ top six is likely to be unchanged, with decisions over the bowling attack to be made on Friday morning.
More rain in Southampton has kept the pitch under cover, so England must decide whether to retain off-spinner Dom Bess, who has played in every Test this summer, but barely bowled.
Whether they field four or five frontline fast bowlers, at least two from the 14 will miss out. Jofra Archer was rested for the second Test, with Sam Curran offering batting depth in the absence of Stokes.
After so much time was lost to the elements during the second Test, the playing conditions for the third have been altered to allow earlier starts if required.
If time is lost on a particular day, play on the following day may now begin at 10:30 BST, rather than the usual 11:00. Previously, Tests in England have only made up time at the end of a day, when the light can become an issue.
“It’s a sensible idea,” said Root. “This will enable us to play a little bit more cricket. It seems a really good way of maximising the hours of play.”
England squad for third Test against Pakistan: Joe Root (Yorkshire) Captain, James Anderson (Lancashire), Jofra Archer (Sussex), Dominic Bess (Somerset), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Rory Burns (Surrey), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Zak Crawley (Kent), Sam Curran (Surrey), Ollie Pope (Surrey), Ollie Robinson (Sussex), Dom Sibley (Warwickshire), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire), Mark Wood (Durham).