Australia's Travis Head struck a century to punish England on a rain-affected opening day of the fifth and final Ashes Test at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart.

The hosts, who have an unassailable 3-0 lead, finished Friday on 241-6 having earlier been reduced to 12-3 by an England side who won the toss and chose to bowl first.

England showed five changes from last week's drawn fourth Test in Sydney, including a debut for Sam Billings, and started in an impressive manner.

David Warner (0), Usman Khawaja (6) and Steve Smith (0) all went by the start of the 10th over, while Marnus Labuschagne would have followed had Zak Crawley not fumbled.

That may well prove a decisive moment in the final Test as Labuschagne and Head launched a counter-attack by scoring 53 runs from the next seven overs.

But on 71 from 72 balls, Labuschagne comically wrong-footed himself when attacking a Stuart Broad delivery and could only watch from the floor as Australia lost another wicket.

England lost bowler Ollie Robinson to injury and their problems were compounded by the work of Head, who continued to rack up the runs when joined by Cameron Green.

Head survived a big scare on his way to reaching 101 from 113 balls, but his day was ended after he chipped a Chris Woakes delivery to Robinson at mid-on.

Green got to 74 before holing out at deep mid-wicket and only nine more balls were bowled due to rain, with Mitch Starc (0) and Alex Carey (10) to resume play on Saturday.

Travis keeps his Head after Crawley loses his

England could not have asked for a much better start on the green surface, with Robinson and Broad dismantling Australia's top order by dismissing Warner and Smith for ducks.

But Crawley's drop of Labuschagne, combined with England's wayward bowling from that point on, allowed Head – recently sidelined due to COVID-19 isolation – to grab the fifth Test by the scruff of the neck.

He went past the 100 mark, becoming the seventh Australian to do so in a day/night men's Test innings after Warner, Labuschagne, Khawaja, Smith, Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb.

Green shoots of recovery

Australia all-rounder Green had a maiden hundred in his sights, only to fall to Mark Wood's short-ball trap 16 runs shot of three figures.

At 22 years and 225 days, he is the youngest player to score 50 or more runs in a men's Test innings for Australia at Bellerive Oval and the fourth youngest overall at the ground.

Stuart Broad believes he has "a lot to offer" the England Test side after he claimed a five-wicket haul against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday.

Broad took 5-101 on day two of the fourth Ashes Test at the SCG, where Australia declared on 416-8 and the tourists were 13 without loss at stumps.

Paceman Broad was surprisingly left out for England's defeat in the first match of the series at the Gabba before also being omitted for another heavy loss at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The 35-year-old expressed his frustration at only being selected for the day-night contest at the Adelaide Oval before being restored to the team in Sydney this week.

Broad let his undoubted ability with the ball do the talking by taking five wickets in a Test innings for the 19th time and an eight in the Ashes.

The vastly experienced quick is confident there is more to come.

"I still feel like I have a lot to offer this team," he told BT Sport.

"Whether that is playing week in, week out like I did when I was 26, 27, maybe not. But I'm old and experienced enough to know how to bowl on different pitches and how to get myself ready and right when the chances come.

"I think when you haven't been playing, particularly at 35 years old, you realise how special it is. I've had points in my career where I've felt like I've always been playing.

"That's not happened in 2021 and it's my job to make that happen in 2022."

Usman Khawaja scored his ninth Test century after being recalled by Australia for the first time in more than two years as the hosts took control against England in the fourth Ashes Test.

Australia declared at 416-8 late in the final session on day two at the SCG, in an innings headlined by Khawaja's 137, where he batted for almost seven hours and hit 13 boundaries.

Khawaja reached his second Ashes hundred after being given a life on 28 when an edge off Jack Leach grazed Jos Buttler and was dropped by Joe Root at first slip.

England's openers survived five overs late in the day to be 13-0 at stumps, with Zak Crawley given a reprieve for a no-ball after being caught at first slip by David Warner off Mitchell Starc for a duck.

Australia, though, took a major advantage in the Sydney Test having resumed at 126-3 after a rain-interrupted opening day, with Steve Smith and Khawaja putting together a 115-run fourth-wicket stand.

Stuart Broad was the pick of the English attack, claiming the first five-wicket haul for the visitors this series with figures of 5-101.

England's hopes of making inroads into the Australian batting line-up were not helped by Ben Stokes limping off with left side tightness. He later returned to field but did not bowl.

Broad had Smith caught by Buttler for 67 shortly after taking the new ball, representing the ninth time the English paceman has dismissed the Australian vice-captain at Test level.

The headband-wearing 35-year-old paceman also claimed the wickets of Cameron Green (5), Pat Cummins (24) and Khawaja, who played on to a leg-cutter.

Starc got lucky with a series of reviews in his batting cameo with 34 not out before Australia declared, getting five overs late at the tourists who got through with Crawley and Haseeb Hameed at the crease.

Broad justifies his recall

Broad's five-wicket haul was his sixth against Australia and a 19th across his decorated career, where he has taken 531 Test dismissals.

The 35-year-old right-arm paceman had been left out for two Tests earlier in this series and justified his recall emphatically.

Khawaja stars upon return

Khawaja had not played for Australia at Test level since August 2019 in the Ashes but managed his second century against England, having earned a recall after back-to-back hundreds for Queensland in the Sheffield Shield. Khawaja reached triple figures shortly prior to tea.

David Warner insists he relishes his Ashes battles with Stuart Broad despite being dismissed by the England bowler for the 13th time in Test cricket.

The Australia batter, who has twice come close to a century amid a dominant series for the hosts, was removed for 30 by the returning Broad on day one of the fourth Test.

Australia, who lead 3-0, closed on 126-3 at the SCG after only 46.5 overs of play were possible due to rain.

Broad had been left out of two of the first three matches and this week expressed his frustration over England's failure given he has "not really done anything" and missed the chance to play on favourable pitches.

Another veteran England bowler, James Anderson, who missed the first Test earlier in the series, also struck on Wednesday, removing Marcus Harris for 38.

And Warner suggested Australia are glad to be up against two of the world's top bowlers.

"I really enjoy giving you guys a good story, which is fantastic and it builds up the game," Warner said of his duels with Broad, who had him caught by Zak Crawley.

"Me and Broady love it when we're out there. It's good fun, good funny banter. 

"I tried to drive the ball too straight, that was my disappointment, but it's awesome to see Broady back out there.

"He's a world-class bowler. Him and Jimmy Anderson bowling at us is great. 

"Obviously, they would have been disappointed with some of these Test matches, not playing together, but that's for their selection panel. 

"It's great to come up against the world's best from England."

Mark Wood removed Marnus Labuschagne (28) before the close as Australia struggled to build on a strong start that had seen them reach 111-1.

It means Steve Smith (6 not out) and Usman Khawaja (4no) will be under pressure when they return to the crease on Thursday.

England are looking to avoid a 5-0 whitewash, a fate they have suffered twice in Australia since the turn of the century.

Amid their struggles, former England batsman Rob Key cannot comprehend why Broad has not been a regular.

He told Sky Sports: "You absolutely have bogey bowlers. I had about 18!

"For David Warner, it is Broad - which makes it even more ridiculous that Broad did not play that first Test in Brisbane. 

"Warner would have been sat there thinking, 'I could really do without facing this bloke'.

"All Warner's preparation would have been about how he was going to combat and defeat Broad and score runs against him – and then England don't pick him! This just shows how poor a decision that was.

"Now Broad has ended up playing on the two pitches so far with the least amount of movement and missed out on the two pitches that would have done a lot for him."

England struck twice late on a rain-affected opening day of the fourth Ashes Test at the SCG to get back into the contest on Wednesday.

Australia finished the first day on 126-3 with Steve Smith (6 not out) and Marnus Labuschagne (4 not out) at the crease after captain Pat Cummins won the delayed coin toss and elected to bat.

The hosts, who lead the series 3-0, had been firmly in control at 111-1 in the final session before veteran Jimmy Anderson (24-1 from 13 overs) and Mark Wood (31-1 from 10 overs) struck to dismiss opener Marcus Harris (38) and Test number one batsman Labuschagne (28) respectively.

Stuart Broad, back in the England side at the expense of Ollie Robinson, claimed the scalp of opener David Warner for 30 caught by Zak Crawley.

The opening session had been stop-start with rain delays seeing Australia go into lunch at 30-0, before adding another 26 runs until Broad found an edge from regular scalp Warner.

Rain fell shortly after Warner's dismissal leading to tea being taken after only 21.4 overs of play, but England got a crucial double strike in the final session before the weather intervened again.

Harris had been patient across more than three hours at the crease until Anderson drew an edge which Joe Root claimed at second slip.

England skipper Root introduced Mark Wood into the attack in the next over and dismissed Labuschagne caught behind by Jos Buttler.

Broad has the wood on Warner

Broad resumed his domination of Warner, dismissing him for the 13th time in Test cricket when he struck in the second session.

The right-arm fast bowler dismissed Warner seven times in the space of 104 balls during the 2019 Ashes in England, yet has been left out for two Tests in this series.

Sydney's rain woes

Only 46.5 overs were bowled on the first day at the SCG, which has been plagued by rain at recent Test matches at the venue.

In fact, Sydney has lost 26 days of Test cricket due to rain since 1877, which is significantly the most of any Australia venue and, while there was play, it was a frustrating opening day.

Australia vice-captain Steve Smith has claimed to be "surprised" at the lack of action afforded to England fast bowler Stuart Broad during the visitors' dire Ashes campaign.

Broad was dropped for the emphatic defeat in Melbourne on Boxing Day that saw Australia retain the urn after just three matches of a one-sided series.

Only two players in English history can better Broad's career record of 120 Test wickets against Australia, and the 35-year-old vented his frustration at his recent lack of influence last weekend, also casting doubt over his Test cricket future.

England's selections have faced fierce scrutiny after Australia racked up an unassailable 3-0 lead, with all-rounder Ben Stokes publicly denying he has any desire to succeed the under-pressure Joe Root as captain.

Speaking at a news conference ahead of the fourth Test in Sydney, Smith said of Broad's absence: "We have been surprised. There have probably been two wickets that would have suited him well [in the first and third Tests, in Brisbane and Melbourne].

"He bowled well in Adelaide, and he's always been a good contest for me. He's got me out a few times, I've scored runs off him. I think it's been a decent battle.

"He and Jimmy [Anderson] are two world-class performers, they have been for a long time. Maybe we'll see them out here together this week, I'm not sure."

Smith, who has averaged 31.75 across the series, has turned his attention to putting in a strong individual performance in the penultimate test, as the hosts target a whitewash victory.

"It's been a little while since I've scored a hundred, but I got close in Adelaide," Smith said.

Smith's 93 runs in Adelaide's second Test was his highest score of the series to date, and the 32-year-old is looking to roll back the clock after averaging over 100 in each of the past two Ashes series, earning a reputation as England's tormentor. 

"We've played on some pretty bowler-friendly wickets in the first three Tests, and it's been tough to get into a rhythm," he noted.

"But hopefully this week I can spend a lot of time out there, get a big one and help us continue to have success."

Stuart Broad says his biggest frustration over England's Ashes failure is the feeling that he has "not really done anything" in Australia.

Australia retained the urn less than halfway through the series when they hammered England by an innings and 14 runs in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.

Broad was dropped in Melbourne, having taken two wickets in an emphatic 275-run thrashing at the Adelaide Oval after he and James Anderson were surprisingly omitted for the nine-wicket defeat in the first match of the series at the Gabba.

The 35-year-old has expressed his frustration over being omitted twice as the wounded tourists prepare for the fourth Test at the SCG, which starts on Wednesday.

"As a wobble-seam bowler, I feel as though I missed out on two of the best wobble-seam pitches in Australia," Broad wrote in the Mail on Sunday.

"Only playing once has made this a very disappointing trip, one that has not met my personal expectations.

"The biggest frustration is losing the Ashes, being 3-0 down and feeling like I've not really done anything. Not being able, as an experienced player, to influence a series while it's live is tough.

"But that is top-flight sport, and I am not the only one who will feel this way. Ollie Pope and Jonny Bairstow, guys who have played one or two games will feel the same, and it's part and parcel of touring."

Broad says he still has the desire to play for his country in the longest format despite such a painful tour.

He added: "Has it affected my hunger to play Test cricket? No. Looking at things pragmatically, I would argue that I won't get a better chance to take wickets than at Brisbane and Melbourne. But I must be ready for my next opportunity, whether that be in Sydney, Hobart or beyond.

"There is a long time between now and the tour of the Caribbean in March and I have never been one to make emotional decisions. So I'm not going to make any spur of the moment calls on my future.

"I feel fit, I've come back from the calf injury feeling strong and I'm taking wickets in the nets. That's all I can do given the lack of tour games and the tight schedule."

England have spent long periods in bio-secure bubbles during the coronavirus pandemic and Broad says the players are feeling the impact of restrictions imposed on them.

He continued. "This tour has taken its toll on all of us. Without sounding like making excuses, we may be at the end of our mental tether with Covid.

"We are the only team that has played solid international cricket throughout the pandemic and our multi-format guys had already done 50 days in a bubble before they turned up here.

"We spent day two of the Boxing Day Test match testing for Covid and having guys moving out of their hotel rooms, away from their families, so they were no longer classed as close contacts.

"When you are faffing about with external stuff like that, it drags your focus away from where it needs to be."

Under-pressure England head coach Chris Silverwood will be absent for the fourth Test in Sydney, having tested positive for coronavirus while he was already in isolation due to what was a seventh positive COVID-19 case in the touring party. 

England have made sweeping changes ahead of the Ashes Boxing Day Test with Rory Burns, Ollie Pope, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes all omitted.

Batsmen Zac Crawley and Jonny Bairstow earn their first opportunities during this Ashes series while paceman Mark Wood and spinner Jack Leach have been recalled.

England trail 2-0 in the Ashes after heavy defeats in Brisbane and Adelaide and will look to keep the series alive at the MCG starting on Sunday.

Opening batsman Burns has been left out after managing only 51 runs at 12.75 along with Ollie Pope with 48 runs at 12 in the first two Tests.

Broad and Woakes make way as England look to add variety to their attack which has allowed Australia to score more than 400 runs in the first innings of both Test matches.

England vice-captain Jos Buttler told reporters on Saturday: "I'd say the reaction is just an honest one from the group. We've had some honest conversations.

"When you come and play Australia we need to be at your best. We're honest with ourselves that we haven’t been there yet. We have to find that very quickly."

Marnus Labuschagne stood unbeaten on 95 and David Warner fell just short of a century as Australia battled to 221-2 on the first day of the second Test in Adelaide.

Steve Smith captained Australia for the first time since the ball-tampering scandal in 2018, after new skipper Pat Cummins was forced to isolate following close contact with a COVID-19 case in a restaurant.

Smith opted to bat first on Thursday and lost opener Marcus Harris for three to Stuart Broad in the bowler's 150th Test, as Jos Buttler produced a fantastic diving catch down the leg side. Harris had earlier overturned an lbw decision.

Warner closed shop in response against Broad and James Anderson's early dominance with the pink ball, managing just one run from his opening 35 deliveries, with Labuschagne following in a similarly attritional fashion.

Labuschagne was relieved when he was dropped by Buttler on 21 off Stokes, and capitalised as he battled to his second fifty of the series in 156 deliveries, after Warner had brought up a 108-ball half-century – the pair sharing their sixth century stand in Tests.

Left-handed opener Warner then fell in the 90s for the second consecutive Test when Broad gratefully collected a catch at cover, with Stokes' aggressive short-pitched bowling finally paying off. Warner was dismissed for 95 and the partnership ended at 172.

Buttler shelled a regulation catch from Anderson in the final hour with Labuschagne on 95, before Australia's number three and stand-in captain Smith made it to stumps unbeaten after a testing period against the new ball under the lights.

Landmark Labuschagne delivers once more

Labuschagne crafted an excellent first-innings 74 at the Gabba and followed that up with more calculated brilliance against England's five-man seam attack on a flat Adelaide Oval pitch in almost perfect batting conditions.

The right-hander, who has faced 275 balls so far, also made it to 2,000 Test runs in his 34th innings, with only four players – Michael Hussey, Herbert Sutcliffe, George Headley and Don Bradman – requiring fewer outings to reach the landmark.

Spin it to win it?

The surface in Adelaide has already shown signs of turn and bounce, much to the frustration of England, who dropped Jack Leach as the tourists went without a spinner for the first time in an Ashes Test since Headingley in 2001.

That run dates back further to 1998 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the last time England played without a spinner Down Under, and captain Joe Root, tasked with operating as the frontline spinner, struggled as he recorded figures of 0-37 from his 11 overs.

James Anderson and Stuart Broad have been included in England's 12-man squad for the second Ashes Test in Adelaide.

The pair's omission for the opening match raised eyebrows and came under further scrutiny after the tourists slumped to a nine-wicket loss as Australia seized the upper hand in Brisbane.

But both are in contention as England seek to level the series in the first of two day-night Tests, with the final selection to be confirmed at the toss on Thursday.

Anderson is his country's leading wicket-taker in Tests with 632, while Broad – who is one shy of 150 Test caps – has 524.

Spinner Jack Leach, who endured a torrid outing as he gave up 102 runs in 13 overs at the Gabba, retains his place in the squad, while seamer Mark Wood has been rested.

Any lingering fears over the fitness of Ben Stokes, who jarred his knee in the field during the opening Test, appear to have been put to rest with his inclusion.

Joe Root's side face a tough task, with Australia boasting a 100 per cent record in day-night Tests.

England squad: Joe Root, James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Haseeb Hameed, Jack Leach, Dawid Malan, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes.

Australia have a 100 per cent record in day-night Tests and another victory at Adelaide Oval will leave England's hopes of regaining the Ashes hanging by a thread.

The tourists made a nightmare start to the series at the Gabba, slumping to a nine-wicket defeat after Joe Root had won the toss and opted to bat first on a green pitch under cloudy skies.

England were rolled over for only 147 on day one in Brisbane after Rory Burns lost his off stump to the first ball of the match from Mitchell Starc.

Captain Root (89) and Dawid Malan (82) showed some resistance in the second innings after Travis Head had made the third-fastest Ashes century, but another collapse left Australia with the straightforward task of chasing 20 to go 1-0 up.

Pat Cummins could not have wished for a much better start to his reign as Test skipper, taking 5-38 on the opening day as England crumbled meekly.

The Australia attack will be licking their lips at the prospect of doing more damage with the pink ball in Adelaide, where they will be hunting what would be a sixth win in seven matches in the longest format in Adelaide.

No side has a better record than Australia's eight out of eight in day-night Tests, while England have lost three day-nighters out of four and their only victory was against West Indies in 2017.

Stats Perform looks at some of the selection issues both sides will be weighing up and picks out where the second Test, which starts on Thursday, could be won and lost.

Anderson and Broad to shine under the lights?

Eyebrows were raised in the Australia camp and far beyond when both James Anderson and Stuart Broad were left out for the first Test.

With 1,156 Test wickets between them, the pace-bowling stalwarts would have been rubbing their hands together at the prospect of racing in at the start of the series but watched on as Australia's bowlers had a field day.

Broad should be back in for his 150th Test and Anderson will surely return under the lights.

The selectors face a tough call when deciding who to leave out as Ollie Robinson, Mark Wood and Chris Woakes came out the first Test with credit, while spinner Jack Leach endured a chastening start to the series.

 

Hazlewood injury forces Australia into at least one change

Australia will be without Josh Hazlewood after he suffered a side strain in Brisbane and Jhye Richardson is the favourite to replace him.

Hazlewood took 5-8 when Australia bowled India out for an embarrassing 36 last December, but either Richardson or Michael Neser will get a chance to exploit England's vulnerability with the bat.

Richardson has taken 23 wickets in four Sheffield Shield matches this season at an average of 13.43 and looks primed to make his Ashes bow in what would be his third Test.

Australia are hopeful David Warner is fit to open after he took a couple of blows to the ribs in the opening Test.

Ricky Ponting predicted England's Ashes situation could look extremely bleak if they do not bounce back in the second Test in Adelaide.

Australia cruised to a thumping nine-wicket victory at The Gabba on Saturday, as England's good work on day three was totally undone.

Nathan Lyon led the way for Australia in the morning session, taking four wickets and bringing up his 400th in Test cricket. England managed just 77 runs as they surrendered their last eight wickets, taking them to a total of 297, having begun day four on 220-2.

Australia were set 20 runs for victory and easily reached the total following lunch, despite the loss of Alex Carey.

Mitchell Starc's dismissal of Rory Burns with the very first ball in Brisbane rather set the tone for a Test in which England were always behind the eight-ball, and former Australia skipper Ponting believes there could be a similar outcome to the hosts' 5-0 triumph in the 2006-07 series.

 

Having ended Australia's eight-series winning streak with victory in 2005, England went Down Under with a point to prove 18 months later, but Ponting's side cruised to a series whitewash.

Indeed, England have not won a Test in Australia since they triumphed 3-1 in the 2010-11 series, suffering 5-0 and 4-0 defeats in their subsequent trips.

After the day-night Test in Adelaide, the series goes to Melbourne, Sydney and then finishes in Hobart, which has replaced Perth as the final venue.

"The conditions are only going to get better for Australia," former Test captain Ponting told cricket.com.au.

"Those conditions [in Brisbane] were very English-like. There was more pace and bounce but as far as their bowling is concerned, they're probably not going to get that much movement anywhere else for the entire series.

"We saw them bowl really well on the last tour in Adelaide under lights where everything just fell perfectly into place – Australia had to bat for a session, the lights were on, brand-new ball, clear night.

"We've also been to Adelaide at other times when the pink ball has done nothing, whether it's a new ball or not. If they don't win in Adelaide then there could be shades of '06-07."

Though Ollie Robinson and Mark Wood bowled well in Brisbane, eyebrows were raised by England's decision to leave out both Stuart Broad and James Anderson.

Such surprise was a sentiment shared by Ponting.

"I can't see why they would have left them [Broad and Anderson] out if they weren't just getting them prepped and ready for Adelaide," said Ponting.

"I'm still staggered to this point now. If Stuart Broad and James Anderson are not better bowlers in Australia than Chris Woakes, then I'm not here. One of those two had to play.

"It might be that they're only going to play one of Broad or Anderson in Adelaide. A lot of it might just depend on how [Ben] Stokes pulls up between now and the start of the Adelaide game."

Mitchell Starc was surprised to see both James Anderson and Stuart Broad left out as England were skittled for 147 on the opening day of the Ashes.

Starc, whose selection for Australia came under some scrutiny, dismissed Rory Burns with the very first ball of the series at the Gabba on Wednesday, setting the tone for a dismal day for the tourists.

New captain Pat Cummins took 5-38 as Australia dominated, with bad light and rain preventing the hosts from starting their chase after tea.

On a green pitch in overcast conditions, Australia's bowling attack thrived, and it seemed the ideal situation in which Broad and Anderson, who have played 315 Tests between them, would have been at their best.

However, neither bowler was selected in the team for the first Test, so the tourists went into the match without pace bowlers who have collected a combined 1,156 Test wickets.

"I'm not sure if you told anyone a couple of days ago that was going to happen that they would have believed you," Starc, who finished with figures of 2-35, told reporters.

"To take 300 Test matches and 1,000 wickets out of their side is pretty interesting.

"I'm glad I don't have to pick any sides, let alone that one, or tap those two on the shoulder and let them know they're not playing."

Starc's comments might have rubbed salt into Joe Root's wounds - the England captain having elected to bat after winning the toss.

Ollie Pope was one of just two batsmen to make it above 30, along with Jos Buttler, and while conceding the odds are already stacked against England, he believes all is not lost.

"It was a disappointing start especially, so there was frustration that we haven't been able to put on the big score we wanted," Pope told a news conference.

"The pitch did offer a fair bit early, especially off the seam so we are frustrated as a unit. It's a long tour, a long series and we're going to keep the spirits high and come out fighting tomorrow.

"Looking at the wicket, it did offer today and wasn't the easiest to score on. You don't know with wickets until both teams have batted on them. I think this pitch gets quicker and keeps carrying.

"It was quite tacky so it made some dents in the middle of the wicket. It'll be interesting if that opens up. We've definitely got the skill set in our bowlers to drag it back and go big second dig."

England left Stuart Broad out of their team for the first Ashes Test in Brisbane on Wednesday after already revealing James Anderson would miss the match.

It meant the tourists went into the series opener without pace bowlers who have collected a combined 1,156 Test wickets, and it amounted to a gamble.

The 35-year-old Broad has 524 of those wickets to his name, yet in Ashes Tests in Australia he has only taken 34 victims in 12 matches at an average of 37.17, strikingly different to his rate of 84 at 26.19 in home Tests against the same opposition.

England captain Joe Root won the toss and elected to bat, with Chris Woakes, Ollie Robinson and Mark Wood chosen as frontline pace options, with Ben Stokes also sure to figure in that equation, backed up by spinner Jack Leach.

Root said: "We're blessed with a very good seam attack and a very good squad out here in that department in particular, and it was a very difficult decision to make.

"But there's five Test matches and all those guys I'm sure will be wanting to play a big part throughout this series, and it's important they're all ready to go when called upon at any time."

New Australia captain Pat Cummins said he was relishing the tussle, saying on BT Sport: "I feel great. Can't wait. The buzz has been amazing around town."

He added: "I thought maybe Broad or Anderson would play each Test, but it's not a huge deal. They're a good XI and we're going to have to play well."

Australia gave a Test debut to Alex Carey, with the wicketkeeper stepping in for Tim Paine, the former skipper who is taking time out of cricket after the lewd text message scandal that ended his time in charge of the team.

Ben Stokes was not included in the England squad for the Ashes tour of Australia.

The all-rounder was expected to be left out of the 17-man group after having a second operation on his broken index finger.

Stokes, who sustained the injury while playing in the Indian Premier League in April, announced in July he was taking a break from cricket to protect his mental wellbeing and allow his finger to recover.

Sam Curran, who was diagnosed with a stress fracture to his lower back in the past week, was also omitted from head coach Chris Silverwood's squad for the five-match series in Australia, which starts on December 8 in Brisbane.

Fast bowlers Jofra Archer and Olly Stone remain absent as they recover from injuries, but Stuart Broad is selected after suffering a torn calf muscle during England's home Test series with India in July.

Joe Root will be captain and Jos Buttler vice-captain of a side consisting entirely of players previously capped at Test level.

 

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) only confirmed on Friday that the tour would be going ahead amid possible concerns around coronavirus restrictions in Australia.

While "several critical conditions" must still be met for the Ashes to proceed, the ECB said "positive discussions" were ongoing and that "it is hoped matters will be resolved in due course".

Silverwood said he was "delighted that all of our available players have committed to the tour" despite the likes of Root and Buttler previously expressing doubts.

"A tour of Australia is the pinnacle as an England Test cricketer," he said.

"This is why we play and coach to be involved in iconic series like this. More than half of our squad haven't featured in an Ashes tour before, which means we will be fresh and looking to embrace the cricket and the excitement of touring one of the best places in the world.

"I believe we have selected a well-balanced squad with options in all areas and a blend of youth and experience. There is real competition for places and a genuine desire to work hard and compete, aiming to create some history."

England are looking to regain the urn after it was retained by Australia following a 2-2 series draw in 2019.

England squad for the Ashes:

Joe Root (captain), James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler (wicketkeeper), Zak Crawley, Haseeb Hameed, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

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