David Warner lauded Travis Head and Australia's other batters after they dominated England on day two of the opening Ashes Test.

England were dismissed for only 147 on day one, and Australia put themselves into a commanding 196-run lead on Thursday.

Head (112 not out) scored the third-fastest Ashes century - reaching three figures off only 85 balls - to take Pat Cummins' team onto 343-7 at stumps in Brisbane.

Warner made an impressive 94 after being given a few lives, putting on 156 for the second wicket with Marnus Labuschagne (74) to put Australia in a strong position.

Labuschagne has now scored four half-centuries from five Test innings at the Gabba, with Warner having struck over 50 as an opener for a sixth time at the venue, with only Mark Taylor (eight) doing so on more occasions.

Speaking to Fox Sports, Warner said: "They did bowl well, didn't they? They were relentless.

"What an entertaining innings by Travis Head. We've got smiles on our faces. It's got to be up there for him personally. It was a tight battle with him and Uzzie [Usman Khawaja] but to come out the way he did... that's the Travis Head we know."

Warner's first near-miss came early on, when Ben Stokes bowled him but the all-rounder over-stepped.

"Obviously getting bowled off a no-ball - you've got to try and keep your feet behind the line as a bowler," Warner added.

"I thought I left very well. Everyone was talking about my form in the T20 stuff but when you're out of runs you deserve some luck."

Ollie Robinson was the pick of England's bowlers with 3-48, and the paceman felt his eventual dismissal of Warner had been a long time coming.

"I sort of felt like I was going to get him out every over to be honest," Robinson told Fox Sports.

"He left well in periods but I think he played at a lot of balls he could have left. So hopefully throughout the series I can get his number a bit earlier."

Reflecting on chances going down in the field, with Rory Burns' routine drop from a Warner edge a particular low point, Robinson added: "We did miss opportunities early on but on another day we could have had three or four early.

"It came out well. It felt like I was consistent and had a lot of play and misses. The closest thing we have [to the Gabba] is Headingley. It's nice to get that bit of extra bounce as a tall guy."

Robinson did pull up with an apparent hamstring issue, but revealed it was only a minor problem.

"It's okay," he said. "I came off for a bit of strapping, bit of maintenance but it's alright, rest up tonight and go again tomorrow."

Travis Head hit his first Ashes century as Australia reached 343-7 to take control of the first Test in Brisbane.

Head's place in Australia's line-up was under some scrutiny heading into the series, but the decision to give him the nod over Usman Khawaja paid off emphatically and he is still in place on 112 not out heading into day three.

His century came after David Warner fell just short of a ton, striking 94 before falling to Ollie Robinson, the pick of England's bowlers with 3-48.

A blow to the underside of Head's chin from an errant Mark Wood delivery could not even dampen Australia's mood.

England were desperate for a fast start after a nightmare opening day at the Gabba, where the tourists were skittled for 147.

Joe Root's men got what they wanted – Ashes debutant Robinson making the early breakthrough when he had Marcus Harris (3) caught at slip.

Ben Stokes knocked over Warner for 17 but he was afforded a reprieve with a no-ball call, while Marnus Labuschagne's edge fell agonisingly short of Root.

Warner was granted two more lives following lunch – Rory Burns dropping a routine catch on 49, while the opener was stranded outside his crease on 60 – but Jack Leach's dismissal of Labuschagne sparked England.

Four wickets in the space of eight overs followed. Warner, Cameron Green (0) and Steve Smith (12) all sent to the pavilion as Robinson just missed out on a hat-trick.

Despite the wickets of Alex Carey (12) and captain Pat Cummins (12), England – walking wounded with Stokes struggling and most of their attacking fading in the sun – were unable to maintain their charge.

Head surpassed his century with a sublime on-drive from Chris Woakes and though Wood's beamer did deliver a blow to the batsman's jaw, his efforts moving Australia into a 196-run lead.

Head stars as team-mates set the stage

Head could well have put this game out of England's reach. His innings so far has included 12 boundaries and two sixes. Only four players have scored a faster hundred for Australia in a men's Test innings (Adam Gilchrist, Jack Gregory, Warner, Matthew Hayden).

While they did not have centuries to show for their efforts, Warner and Labuschagne enjoyed stellar days. Warner posted his sixth 50-plus score as an opening batsman at the Gabba, equalling Bill Lawry for the second most at the ground in the format as an opener – only Mark Taylor (eight) has more. Labuschagne, meanwhile, recorded his fourth 50-plus score in five career innings at the Gabba.

No-ball embarrassment

Umpiring and technology were in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons after Stokes' early spell. Having been denied the wicket of Warner due to a no-ball, analysis of his spell showed the England star had overstepped 14 times with only two no-balls called. The reason? The technology had failed, leaving the umpires to make the calls.

As for Stokes, he finished with disappointing figures of 0-50 from nine overs, suffering a knee injury in the field to further compound a so-far frustrating return.

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."

Pat Cummins reflected on a "pretty crazy" first day as Australia's Test captain after his side dismantled England at the Gabba to start the Ashes in style.

Mitchell Starc bowled Rory Burns with the very first ball in Brisbane on Wednesday and the hosts went on to skittle England out for just 147 before rain and bad light stopped play.

Cummins, who replaced Tim Paine as captain following the wicketkeeper's resignation last month in the wake of a lewd texting scandal, led the way for Australia, taking 5-38.

The 28-year-old became the second pace bowler to take five wickets in a men's Test innings as captain of Australia, after George Giffen (three occasions in December 1894, February 1895 and January 1895), and has taken 133 wickets in the longest format since the start of 2018, more than any other player.

England skipper Joe Root won the toss and chose to bat on a green pitch in Queensland, and though Cummins acknowledged he would likely have made the same decision, he had no regrets over losing the coin flip as he looked back on a wonderful day for Australia.

"Pretty crazy... it's all gone to plan so far," Cummins told BT Sport.

"Really proud of all the guys. I was probably going to have a bat. I genuinely wasn't upset and we made the most of it.

"[The pitch] is a little bit soft. You're always in the game on the morning of day one. It got a little bit quicker after lunch but the ball got a little bit softer. It's a pretty standard Gabba wicket."

Asked to comment on his five-for, Cummins added: "The body felt decent. I've bowled better before and haven't got as many rewards. I kept it tight and got the ball up there."

Starc's 2-35 and Josh Hazlewood's 2-42 were added to by a first Test wicket for Cameron Green (1-6) as England were cast aside with ease - only four of the tourists' side making it into double figures.

The selection of opening bowler Starc had come under some scrutiny, but he responded in perfect fashion when his first delivery crashed into Burns' leg stump.

It is only the second time in Ashes history that a batsman has been dismissed with the first ball of the first Test.

"Really happy for him, he really held the attack together," Cummins said of Starc.

Pat Cummins made a blistering start to his Australia captaincy, spearheading a day of destruction with a five-for as England were skittled out for 147 on day one of the opening Ashes Test.

Cummins – who replaced Tim Paine as skipper after stepping down and ultimately taking a break from cricket following a lewd texting scandal – ushered in a new era with a five-wicket haul for just 38 runs before rain and bad light scuppered play at the Gabba on Wednesday.

England won the toss and opted to bat first on a green wicket in Brisbane but it was a horror day for Joe Root's tourists.

Mitchell Starc (2-35) knocked over Roy Burns' leg stump with the first ball of the series and things quickly turned sour, much to the delight of the local crowd.

Root's nightmare was realised when he was sent back to the pavilion for a duck by Josh Hazlewood (2-42) as England found themselves 11-3 after Dawid Malan (6) also succumbed to the Australian quick.

Australia continued to put England to the sword as Cummins claimed the scalp of star Ben Stokes (5), leaving England 29-4 through just 12.4 overs.

Haseeb Hameed (25) tried his best to steer the sinking ship, but Australia continued where they left off post-lunch – Cummins dismissing the opener with vice-captain Steve Smith on hand to collect the catch.

Ollie Pope (35) and Jos Buttler (39) guided England past 100 before Starc broke the partnership, Buttler edging through to debutant wicketkeeper Alex Carey for the second of his three catches.

Australia wrapped up the innings early in the afternoon as Cameron Green (1-6) celebrated his first Test wicket by removing Pope before Ollie Robinson (0), Mark Wood (8) and Chris Woakes (21) fell victim to Cummins, with the weather preventing the hosts from beginning their run chase.

 

Cummins joins exclusive club

It was a memorable day for Cummins, who became the second pace bowler to take five wickets in a Test innings as captain of Australia after George Griffin (three occasions in December 1894, February 1895 and January 1895). Cummins has taken 133 wickets in Test cricket since the start of 2018 – the most of any bowler in that time.

Starc silences critics

After avoiding the axe for the two opening Ashes Tests, Starc had the perfect response for his doubters with a first-ball wicket. It was just the second time in Ashes history a batter has been dismissed off the opening delivery of a series, while it was the 13th time Starc has claimed a wicket in the first over of a Test since 2014.

Jonny Bairstow has been left out of England's 12-man squad for the first Ashes Test against Australia.

The 32-year-old, who is on his third Ashes tour, struggled during last weekend's warm-up against England Lions and has lost his place in the side.

Ollie Pope is instead preferred to Bairstow in the middle order for the match at the Gabba in Brisbane, which begins on Wednesday.

England had announced earlier on Tuesday that paceman James Anderson is "fit" but will not play a part in the first Test as a precaution.

Spinner Jack Leach is included in the squad, as is Ben Stokes, whose last meaningful cricket came back in July.

Visiting England, who are looking to reclaim the urn from Australia's grip, will name their final XI at the toss.

Australia named their starting XI last week, with Travis Head getting the nod over Usman Khawaja in one of the big selection calls made by Pat Cummins.

England have won two of their last three Tests against Australia – including a 135-run win when they last met, though they are winless in their last 10 away Tests to Australia (D1, L9) having last won in the country in January 2011.

Joe Root's England have lost six of their last nine Tests heading into this series (W1 D2) and have lost their last three Tests away from home. The last time they lost more consecutive away Tests was a seven-game stretch from November 2016 to December 2017.

 

England squad for first Ashes Test: Joe Root (c), Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Haseeb Hameed, Jack Leach, Dawid Malan, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

James Anderson and Stuart Broad were the only members of the England squad who were born when the tourists last won an Ashes Test at the Gabba.

The hostile iconic Brisbane venue has been such a fortress for Australia that you have to go back to November 1986 for their previous Test defeat to England at the ground where the 2021-22 series starts on Wednesday.

Yet India consigned Australia to a first Gabba loss in the longest format for over 32 years in January and England captain Joe Root is backing his side to end the hoodoo, despite a lack of match practice due to rain.

The world's number one Test batter said: "[Victory] would absolutely set us up for the rest of the series and it's a great opportunity.

"This group of players, not that long ago, went to Cape Town where we've not won a Test for a long period of time and off the back of a performance there won the series.

"I feel like we have been able to do that around the world and this is an opportunity to do that here. Obviously conditions are slightly different to home, at this venue in particular with that extra bit of bounce, but we have prepared as well as we can for that. If we manage that well we should give a really good account of ourselves and start well."

Ben Stokes' return gives England a massive lift as they attempt to wrestle back the urn, though they won't have the usual level of backing from the Barmy Army as usual due to coronavirus travel restrictions.

The tourists were thrashed 4-0 in their last Ashes series Down Under in 2017-18 after the humiliation of a 2013-14 whitewash, so it is almost 10 years since their last Test win in Australia.

Stats Perform looks at some of the key factors that will decide whether they can make it a miserable start to Pat Cummins' reign as Australia Test captain.

 

Stoking the fires

Stokes has not played for his country since July, but declared himself fit to face Australia after taking a break to prioritise his mental well-being and fully recover from a fractured finger.

The all-rounder was England's player of the series in an Ashes series two years ago that ended in a 2-2 draw, scoring 441 runs at an average of 55.12 and producing one of the great innings at Headingley to pull off an unlikely victory.

Vice-captain Stokes' return should add strength to the middle order they have been lacking and Root will be hoping he can do some damage in short, sharp bursts with the ball.

 

Root must keep racking up the runs

It has been an incredible 2021 for Root, who has scored six Test centuries - including one double-hundred in Sri Lanka and another in India.

The skipper said this tour will define his captaincy and England will need him to keep racking up the runs if they are to return home with a surprise series win.

Only five batsmen have scored more Test centuries in a year than Root's tally, with Mohammad Yousuf holding the record with a staggering nine in 2006.

 

Lack of pace potency?

Not for the first time in Ashes, a lack of pace could be a big issue for England and how they would love to have a fit Jofra Archer firing.

Australian Troy Cooley was brought into the touring party as a consultant pace bowling coach and there is no doubting the quality in the England attack, led by James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

Broad tormented Warner in the 2019 series, but the opener could be much more difficult to dismiss on home soil with a Kookaburra ball and returned to form in Australia's recent T20 World Cup triumph.

Mark Wood is capable of doing damage but it remains to be seen how many Tests the injury-prone quick can play. Ollie Robinson could make a big impact in his first Ashes series and Chris Woakes can hit the sort of lengths to trouble batters in Australia.

Cricket Australia (CA) confirmed the fifth and final Ashes Test scheduled to be played in Perth has been relocated due to Western Australia's border strictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ashes showdown between Australia and tourists England was set to be staged at Perth's Optus Stadium from January 14-18, however, the state's strict travel strictions has forced the series finale to be moved.

While CA announced the relocation of the Perth Test on Monday, no new host has been confirmed, with Hobart among the possible locations.

Melbourne – the scene for the Boxing Day Test – and Sydney, which will host the fourth Test, have been floated as possible new host venues for the Test match.

Under Western Australia's current border rules, visitors from New South Wales – where the fourth Test is due to take place from January 5-9 – must complete 14 days quarantine upon arrival.

Talks between CA and the WA state government had seemed to be heading in a positive direction last month, with a potentially shorter and more relaxed quarantine period for players, their families and match and broadcast staff, but the emergence of the Omicron variant has reaffirmed the state's hardline stance on borders.

"While absolutely every effort was made to ensure the final Test match of the series could be staged in Perth, border controls, quarantine requirements and the complexities of staging a five-Test series in a tight schedule have meant it is unfortunately not possible to align the respective priorities of the WA Government, CA and WA Cricket," CA said in a statement.

WA Sport and Recreation Minister Tony Buti had publicly spoken about a proposal to shift the order of the Tests, with Perth replacing the second Test in Adelaide starting December 16 – given borders remain open between WA and Queensland where the first Test will be held – but CA closed the door on that idea.

"These complexities also mean that any suggestion of changing the order of the venues would not be feasible," the statement said. "Discussions about a replacement venue for the fifth Test match are underway."

The decision is a major blow for WA Cricket and Perth, which missed out on a Test match during the last Australian summer following the postponement of a one-off game against Afghanistan.

WA Cricket CEO Christina Matthews said: "We are extremely disappointed for our Members, fans, Commercial Partners and the wider WA cricket community as well as all our staff and players who have been looking forward to and planning for the first ever Ashes to be played at Perth Stadium.

"We've been working closely and constructively with the WA Government and Cricket Australia for many months to bring this fixture to Perth amid the pandemic-related challenges we've faced.

"While this decision is very difficult to accept, the complexity of staging the Test in the face of strict border controls and quarantine requirements has resulted in it not being possible to align the respective priorities of the WA Government, Cricket Australia, and WA Cricket."

The first Ashes Test begins in Brisbane on Wednesday.

Australia will be expected to ensure normal service is resumed in the heat of an Ashes battle at the Gabba when they start a new era on Wednesday.

The Tim Paine sexting scandal presented Pat Cummins with the opportunity to become the first fast bowler to captain the Australia Test side.

Cummins was appointed less than a fortnight before his side start their defence of the urn against fierce rivals England, with Steve Smith his assistant as Paine takes an indefinite mental health break from cricket. 

The paceman has long since been talked of as a potential successor to Paine and gets his chance earlier than expected.

Cummins was already on a high from playing his part in Australia's maiden T20 World Cup triumph in Dubai last month and should thrive on the extra responsibility of being skipper.

Australia have not played a Test since they were consigned to a 2-1 home defeat to India in January and although England have had plenty of action in the longest format this year, poor weather in Brisbane has badly hampered their preparations.

Stats Perform picks out some of the storylines, sprinkled with some Opta data, from an Australia perspective before one of the great sporting rivalries gets under way again.

 

Cummins to get Australia going?

Cummins has led Australia's pace attack on many occasions and was the pick of the bowlers in a 2-2 Ashes series draw in England two years ago, taking 29 wickets at average of 19.62.

Since the start of 2018, no bowler has claimed more scalps in the longest format than the 28-year-old's 128 - which have come at 19.9 apiece.

Cummins, the number one Test bowler in the world, will no doubt be licking his lips at the prospect of ripping into what has been a fragile England batting line-up.

Josh Hazlewood will also pose a huge threat and Mitchell Starc will be out to silence critics such as Shane Warne, while Jhye Richardson and Michael Neser show Australia's strength in depth in the pace ranks.

 

Gabba no longer a fortress?

Australia had not lost a Test at the Gabba for 33 years until India's famous victory in January.

Joe Root fanned the flames last month by stating the hostile Brisbane venue is no longer such a "stronghold" for Australia.

It has most certainly not been a happy hunting ground for England, who have only won four of 21 Tests at the stage for the curtain-raiser for the series. The tourists' last Test win at the Gabba came in November 1986.

England have not won a Test in Australia since January 2011, losing nine and drawing one of their previous 10 contests, and they will be braced for a barrage of pace when they start their quest to regain the urn this week.

 

England must find an answer to Smith and Labuschagne 

The England bowlers had seen more than enough of Smith by the end of the 2019 series.

He racked up 774 runs at an average of 110.57 from seven innings, reaching three figures on three occasions and scoring a sublime 211 at Old Trafford.

The former skipper broke his own record for number of runs in a Test series in the 21st century. Only the great Don Bradman (19) and Jack Hobbs (12) have more Ashes centuries than Smith's 11.

Marnus Labuschagne was also outstanding in England two years ago, averaging 50.42. He has been a revelation at number three and will have a big role to play.

 

Australia in safe hands with Carey?

Alex Carey will take the gloves and make his Test debut at the Gabba in the absence of Paine.

Carey has plenty of experience at the age of 30 and has 83 international white-ball experiences under his belt.

He comes into his Test bow on the back of making a timely century for South Australia against Queensland in the Sheffield Shield and has a chance to cement his spot in the side.

Joe Root has predicted the upcoming Ashes series against Australia will "define" his reign as England captain.

Root will go up against new Australia skipper Pat Cummins in the five-Test series, and he acknowledges results against the old enemy have been the yardstick for judging England captains in the past.

The 30-year-old's only other series in the role in Australia resulted in a 4-0 defeat four years ago, but Root sees this as an opportunity for himself and his team-mates to make an impact.

Speaking ahead of the first Test which starts on Wednesday in Brisbane, Root told reporters: "Of course it will define my captaincy – I'm not naive enough to think that it won't – but what a great opportunity.

"If you look how hard it's been for English captains and English teams [to win in Australia] over the years, it has been something which doesn't happen very often.

"I'm very excited about it and can't wait for the series to get going."

Root is the top-ranked Test batsman in world cricket, ahead of Australia's Steve Smith and New Zealand captain Kane Williamson.

In 2021, Root has scored 1,455 Test runs in 12 matches at an average of 66.13, over 500 runs more than India's Rohit Sharma in second place.

He is also set to overtake Alastair Cook as the player to have won the most caps while captain of England during the series.

 

"You look at some of the players, some of the individuals, some of the performances guys have put in," Root added. "The senior guys have done it time and time again and the junior guys have shown glimpses of what they can do and their potential.

"What better stage to really grab a series and make an announcement on the international stage. I'm an Ashes player and I want to live in the history of this great rivalry. That carrot is there for everyone."

Australia have already named their side for the first Test at the Gabba, including Travis Head and Mitchell Starc.

The Australians have won seven of their last eight men's Test series against England on home soil, not losing a single match in three of their last four series hosting the Ashes.

Root said England were not yet in a position to name their team but did suggest that spin would be important, hinting that Jack Leach could feature.

"We've got all the options on the table right now. We're not going to name a team just yet. We'll have to see a closer forecast and how that pitch changes over the next couple of days," Root said.

"But I do think it is a good place to bowl spin. If you speak to some of the great spin bowlers from Australia, they've always enjoyed bowling here.

"It's something we'll weigh up, but we're not in a position to make a call on that right now."

Australia have opted for Travis Head over Usman Khawaja as captain Pat Cummins confirmed the starting XI to face England in the opening Ashes Test at the Gabba.

It was between Head and Khawaja in the race to bat at number five in Wednesday's opener in Brisbane and Australia stuck with the former.

Head, who played in four of the 2019 Ashes Tests and top-scored with 51 at an average of 27.28 before sitting out the final match, has made 394 runs – including two centuries – at 49.25 this Sheffield Shield season.

His overall Test record also stands at an average of 39.75 from 19 matches, including two tons.

Khawaja – without an international appearance in the longest format of cricket since the third Ashes Test in 2019 – also had a pair of hundreds as part of a 460-run haul at 65.71 in the Sheffield Shield.

But new Australia skipper Cummins and selectors preferred Head as they bid to retain the urn, though England are yet to confirm their XI.

"It was a tight one. Both really good options, really strong form," said Cummins on Sunday.

"Experience is great from Uzzie and we feel really lucky to have that in the squad, but Trav's been playing a lot for us the last couple of years.

"He's gone away and he's churned out runs in England, here in Australia, and we feel like he's really ready to go."

Australia quick Mitchell Starc avoided the axe, selectors keeping faith with the paceman alongside fellow pace bowlers Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.

Starc's position was under threat due to his form and the rise of Jhye Richardson, who had taken 15 wickets in his past two Sheffield Shield matches.

England captain Joe Root declined to announce his team during Sunday's series launch, telling reporters: "We've got all the options on the table [but] we're not going to name a team just yet.

"We'll have to see the closer forecase 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."

 

Australian XI: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins (c), Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc.

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

Alex Carey is set to make his Test debut in the Ashes opener between Australia and England in Brisbane next week.

Cricket Australia (CA) on Thursday announced Carey will replace former captain Tim Paine as wicketkeeper in the team for the first two Tests, starting December 8 at the Gabba.

Debutant Carey will be behind the stumps after Paine – who stood down as skipper having been embroiled in a sexting scandal – took a leave of absence from all forms of cricket for the "foreseeable future".

"I am incredibly humbled by this opportunity. It’s an exciting build-up for what is a huge series ahead," Carey – Australia's one-day international wicketkeeper – said in a statement

"My focus is on preparing and playing my part in helping Australia secure the Ashes.

"This is also for my dad who has been my coach, mentor and mate, my mum, my wife Eloise, kids Louis and Clementine, my brother and sister and all of those who have supported me. I will be doing my absolute best to make them and our country proud."

Carey has averaged just 21.85 runs over eight innings with the bat in the Sheffield Shield, though the left-hander has been a consistent performer over the years.

The South Australia star has averaged 59.64, scoring four centuries in nine matches.

England's Jack Leach has said Ben Stokes' return to the squad is a "great boost" ahead of the start of the Ashes series in Australia.

Stokes has not played competitively since July and was initially omitted from England's squad as he recovered from a second operation on a broken finger and took a break to protect his mental wellbeing, but the all-rounder was subsequently added to the travelling party.

Stokes famously partnered Leach in a last-wicket stand of 76 to dramatically beat the Aussies in the third Test at Headingley in 2019.

"Obviously having Stokesy back is a great boost for all of us," Leach said. "Some of the things he's done in the past, you know, he's such an important player for us.

"In terms of the balance, it really helps things out, and it's probably good news for the spin department.

"The wickets aren't necessarily going to be really spin-friendly, but I think spin has as a big part to play in Ashes series where England have been successful.

"The spinners have got a big part to play. So, yeah, I'm hopeful I can be the guy and play that role, definitely."

On how Stokes has reintegrated into training and the squad, Leach added: "Luckily, I haven't had to face him in the nets. But yeah, he's looking really good.

"He's fit back into the group brilliantly. It's great to have him back around.

"He's been brilliant and he's such a team man. I think the group is only better for having him in it. He brings experience, I think he really brings the boys together, so that's been really good.

"He's looking good bowling and batting. I've bowled at him and he doesn't block too many balls from the spinners, so yeah, he's looked good."

Leach is hopeful of playing a part in the upcoming series, and admitted to regularly watching his Australian counterpart Nathan Lyon to pick up tips and tricks to improve his own bowling.

"I'm preparing to play, definitely. Like I do for every series that I'm involved with," he added. "For me, the best way to go about it, obviously is to try to prepare to play, and then obviously be really disappointed if I'm not.

"For years I've watched Nathan Lyon, and he's very impressive how he goes about his business. Just how strong his stock ball is and on wickets that don't necessarily offer a lot spin-wise, I think he's found ways to extract bounce and dip. So a lot over spin from him, and I think those are the kind of things I've been trying to add in.

"You take little bits from everyone you play against. I was in India looking at Axar Patel, [Ravi] Ashwin and seeing what I can take from them. So you're always doing that.

"But I think it's important not to get too caught up in that and also just stick to your strengths as well, and know that you're playing at this level for a reason."

England all-rounder Ben Stokes has declared himself "fit and hungry for a big series" ahead of the first Ashes Test against Australia.

Joe Root's side get their campaign started on December 8 in Brisbane and will be boosted by the return of their star all-rounder Stokes.

The 30-year-old has not played competitively since July and was initially omitted from England's squad as he recovered from a second operation on a broken finger and took a break to protect his mental wellbeing.

But Stokes was subsequently added to the travelling party in October as he assured he was ready to make a comeback for the tour and first Test at The Gabba.

Stokes, who averages 38.37 against Australia, offered England a scare when he took a blow to the forearm in a net session last week before Root confirmed the Durham man was fit. 

With just a week to go before the two old foes do battle once more, Stokes is relishing the opportunity to take on Justin Langer's side.

 

"Don't call it a comeback," Stokes posted on Instagram alongside a video of him training with bat and ball on Wednesday.

"Spent some time testing out the finger with [Adidas] last month.

"Two months ago, I couldn't hold a bat. With one week to go till the first Test, I'm fit and hungry for a big series Down Under!"

Michael Vaughan remains under contract with the BBC, who "expect to work" with the former England captain again after standing him down from their Ashes coverage following Azeem Rafiq's racism allegations.

Vaughan was named in a report this month investigating Rafiq's claims of institutional racism at Yorkshire, but has repeatedly and categorically denied the allegations.

The 47-year-old, who played for Yorkshire between 1993 and 2009, allegedly told a group of team-mates in 2009 there were "too many of you lot, we need to do something about it".

Those claims were corroborated by then Yorkshire player Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and current England white-ball specialist Adil Rashid.

Vaughan has since been stood down from his BBC Radio 5 Live Show before being removed from the broadcaster's Ashes coverage due to his involvement in a "significant story" representing a "conflict of interest".

The BBC reiterated their stance on Wednesday, as they informed that Vaughan – who led England to Ashes glory in 2005 – would play no role in their upcoming coverage, though they look set to work with him in the future.

"We're in regular contact with Michael and have had positive conversations with him in recent days," read a statement from the BBC.

"Our contributors are required to talk about relevant issues, so Michael's involvement in a story of such significance means it's not possible for him to be part of our Ashes coverage or wider cricket coverage at the moment.

"We're pleased with how our conversations are going and expect to work with Michael again in the future. He remains on contract to the BBC."

Vaughan said after the BBC's decision he was "very disappointed not to be commentating on the Ashes" but added he was looking forward to working on the series for Fox Sports in Australia.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.