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Ashes 2023

Watch: Ben Stokes employs wall of six close-in fielders, Usman Khawaja yorks himself and gets bowled

Usman Khawaja, Ashes 2023
by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Watch: An eccentric fielding tactic from Ben Stokes paid off nearly instantly, with Usman Khawaja yorking himself and losing his leg-stump to Ollie Robinson.

Stokes employed a semi-circle of six fielders close in front of the wicket to Khawaja, who was closing in on 150. Australia were nearing parity with England before lunch on day three, with England seemingly running out of options.

With little help from the surface and the 32-over old ball, Stokes got funky. He first put a ring of four close-in fielders on the leg-side to Pat Cummins, hoping to prey on any vulnerability to the short ball. To Khawaja, he went even more rogue. He lined up Ollie Pope, Harry Brook and James Anderson in front of Khawaja on the leg-side to the left-hander, with Joe Root, Stuart Broad and Stokes himself mirroring them on the off.


Between them, they formed an impenetrable looking wall, enticing Khawaja to try and manufacture a stroke square of the wicket and take advantage of the few fielders in the deep.

The plan worked like a charm. As soon as Stokes put the three fielders in on the leg-side, Khawaja danced down the wicket. Rather than give himself room to drive through the off-side as intended, he yorked himself, and the ball clattered into leg-stump which cartwheeled out of the turf.

Pumped, Robinson roared past Khawaja in celebration giving him a send-off before his teammates, who didn’t have to run in from far, embraced him.

The wicket started a tumbling collapse from Australia, who lost the remainder of their wickets in the 20 minutes before lunch. Having looked in trouble for most of the morning session, England managed to go into the innings break with seven-run lead.

Watch: Ben Stokes employs wall of six close-in fielders, Usman Khawaja yorks himself and gets bowled, below

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