England win toss, opt to bat in fifth Ashes Test
SYDNEY (Reuters) – England captain Joe Root won the rain-delayed toss and chose to bat in the fifth Ashes Test against Australia in overcast conditions at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday.
The first session was washed out by light rain and play is scheduled to start at 12:40 p.m. (0140 GMT) after lunch was taken early.
Both teams made one change to their sides for the final Test of the five-match series, which Australia lead 3-0 after winning the first three contests in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.
England have handed leg spinner Mason Crane his Test debut in place of all-rounder Chris Woakes, who suffered a side injury and was withdrawn from the side as a precaution.
“I think it looks a good wicket to be honest,” Root said.
”There’s a bit of weather around and a bit of moisture around. If we play well for the first session, first two sessions… (the pitch) looks like it might deteriorate and spin might come into the game later on.
“(Crane)’s a very excited young man as you’d expect him to be. He’s a great competitor. He’s come on in leaps and bounds for this trip. I‘m expecting him to do well.”
Australia brought pace spearhead Mitchell Starc back into the side in place of Jackson Bird after the left-armer missed the drawn fourth Test in Melbourne because of a bruised heel.
”I didn’t know what to do,“ Australia skipper Steve Smith said when questioned over his plans had he won the toss. ”I would have batted but I‘m not too disappointed.
“There’s a bit of moisture in the pitch, bit of grass, overhead conditions. New ball might do a bit and we need to make the most of it.”
The weather forecast predicts clearing skies and sunshine for the rest of the day.
Australia – Steve Smith (captain), David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.
England – Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Joe Root (captain), Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali, Tom Curran, Stuart Broad, Mason Crane, James Anderson.