Ben Stokes & Co. opt to bat first in Ashes opener, Hazlewood replaces Starc

England captain Ben Stokes chose to bat on what appears a good batting wicket in hot and sunny conditions at Edgbaston on Friday in the opening match of an eagerly awaited Ashes series against Australia that both teams hope will be a showcase for Test cricket. The conditions are such that Australia captain Pat Cummins said he would have also batted.

England, which had already named its lineup, has won 12 of its last 17 tests with its attacking and carefree `Bazball` approach under Stokes and coach Brendon (“Baz”) McCullum.

Australia went for Josh Hazelwood at the expense of pacer Mitchell Starc. Seamer Scott Boland, who impressed recently against India, keeps his place in the attack along with Cummins and veteran spinner Nathan Lyon, who has taken 487 test wickets. Australia is set to give `Bazball` its toughest test yet.

Moeen Ali is playing his first test match in nearly two years after an injury to England`s premier spinner Jack Leach. Edgbaston is Ali`s home ground with Warwickshire.

Also Read: Ashes Series: Three key factors that will define outcome of England vs Australia

Australia has not won an Ashes series in England since 2001 but enters the game as the newly crowned world test champion after beating India on Sunday. It hammered England 4-0 in the last Ashes series in 2021-22, meaning the visitors only need to draw the best-of-five contest to keep cricket`s famed urn.

Australia`s lineup includes the top three-ranked test batters, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, and Travis Head.

Confirmed Playing XIs

England: Ben Duckett, Zak Crawley, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes (captain), Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali, Stuart Broad, Ollie Robinson, James Anderson.

Australia: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins (captain), Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland, Josh Hazlewood.

(With PTI inputs)

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