England opt to bat against Australia in first Test
LONDON – England captain Alastair Cook won the toss and opted to bat in the first Ashes Test against Australia on Wednesday.
England left out leg spinner Adil Rashid and paceman Steven Finn from their 13-man squad, retaining the same side that started the last test against New Zealand in May-June.
The pitch is unlikely to offer much spin, leaving Moeen Ali to take on the principle spinning duties for the hosts.
“There’s some overhead conditions but we think it’s a fairly dry wicket. Hopefully the cloud will burn off and it won’t swing too much,” Cook said.
“It’s been a really good summer for us so far. Now we have to start again against a very good side.
“I’ve got a huge amount of faith in our players. There are some talented players in our team.”
Australia opted for experience, picking all rounder Shane Watson, whose place had been in doubt, ahead of the younger Mitchell Marsh.
Josh Hazelwood completes a three-man pace attack after Ryan Harris last week announced his retirement from cricket due to persistent injury.
“I would have batted as well, but hopefully it swings around a little bit this morning,” said Australia captain Michael Clarke.
“All players were in contention. Shaun and Mitchell Marsh have done everything to push for selection, but the selectors have stuck with the older guys.”
Australia are clear favourites to retain the Ashes after their 5-0 whitewash on home soil in 2013-14.
England: Adam Lyth, Alastair Cook (captain), Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Moeeen Ali, Stuart Broad, Mark Wood, James Anderson
Australia: Chris Rogers, David Warner, Steve Smith, Michael Clarke (captain), Adam Voges, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazelwood, Nathan Lyon. –Reuters