Newly-appointed Australia captain Pat Cummins confirmed their playing XI for the first Ashes Test, starting December 8 against England at the Gabba in Brisbane. Travis Head got the backing to bat at No. 5 while David Warner is all set to open alongside Marcus Harris in the series opener. The playing XI was announced on Sunday during the official launch of the Ashes Test series.
Meanwhile, left-arm pacer Mitchell Starc retains his place in the XI even as questions were asked about his form. Starc wasn’t at his best at the T20 World Cup and had also struggled against India at the Gabba where the visiting side famously breached the fortress to win the Test series.
Jhye Richardson was making a case for himself to be the third seamer in the Australian attack for the first Ashes Test after he picked up 15 wickets in the last two Sheffield Shield matches, including 8 wickets in the last match at the Gabba.
However, Australia seems have trusted the trio of fast bowlers who have a combined tally of 631 Test wickets. While Cummins assumes the new role of Australia’s Test captain, in-form Josh Hazlewood and Starc will be expected to back him up with the ball.
As expected Nathan Lyon has got the nod as the only spinner while the mainstays of their batting unit, Steve Smith, who is also the vice-captain, and Marnus Labuschagne find a place in the XI.
Australia playing XI for first Ashes Test
Marcus Harris, David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wicketkeeper), Pat Cummins (captain), Mitch Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood
Meanwhile, Joe Root stayed away from naming the England XI for the first Test, saying the visitors will take a call closer to the series opener. However, Root hinted that left-arm spinner Jack Leach is likely to be in the playing XI.
“We’ve got all the options on the table (but) we’re not going to name a team just yet,” Root said.
“We’ll have to see the closer forecast and how that pitch changes over the next couple of days. But it’s a great place to play spin. It’s something we’ll weigh up and consider, but we’re not in a position to make that call right now.”