Somerset quick Overton was only drafted into the squad after it was confirmed James Anderson, England’s all-time leading wicket-taker, was ruled out with a calf injury.
The same injury has prevented Anderson from bowling in the series since his four-over spell in the first innings of Australia’s 251-run win in the first Test at Edgbaston.
Overton comes into the side on the back of England’s stunning one-wicket win in the third Test at Headingley, inspired by Ben Stokes’s superb 135 not out, that saw them square the five-match Ashes series at 1-1.
The 25-year-old Overton has played three Tests and bowled Australia star batsman Steve Smith on debut at Adelaide in December 2017.
England Captain Joe Root, explaining why Overton had been included, told reporters at Old Trafford during his pre-match press conference on Tuesday: “This ground does perform slightly differently with an extra bit of bounce and a taller bowler will give us an extra option to go to.
“I feel like that balances out our attack really well in these conditions.” Root added, “Craig is a competitor. You saw him come into Ashes cricket on debut and straight away he looked very much at home. He got himself in a battle and I expect him to do that this week. I expect him to cause some issues for the Aussie batters.”
Root also confirmed the switch of positions between Jason Roy and Joe Denly, with World Cup winner Roy dropping down to number four after struggling as a Test opener.
“Jason is a high-quality player, we all know that, and he might be better suited at four,” the England captain said.
“I think to play in an Ashes series is very exciting and he was extremely excited to get the chance to open the batting, but I think that he might be better suited for the middle order on the evidence we have seen over the last three games. It’s a great opportunity for him to make it his own and we have seen him play enough international cricket to know what he can do when he gets himself in, so hopefully batting lower down allows him to do that. Joe (Denly) has played some good cricket throughout the summer, he has got himself in and he was very good in that second innings (at Headingley when he made a fifty). It’s a great opportunity for him to get us off to a good start with Rory (Burns),” Root added.
Smith, now back on top of the latest world Test batting rankings pulished Tuesday, will be returning to Ashes action this match after he missed the Headingley match with concussion.
This is former Australia captain Smith’s first Test series since completing a 12-month ban for ball-tampering. He marked his return to the format with scores of 144 and 142 at Edgbaston before making 92 in the drawn second Test at Lord’s — where he was felled by a 92mph Jofra Archer bouncer.
Root said he was looking forward to seeing Archer bowl to Smith again.
“For everyone watching I’m sure it will be an exciting contest between two world-class players,” Root added. “What that Headingley win has done is make this a very special week this week and a great opportunity for us to build on what was a great win and carry that forward.”