Australia vs England, 5th Test
Day 1: 1st Session
Recent balls: 0 0
0.2 Broad to Warner, no run
0.1 Broad to Warner, no run, oh ho ho! What a start.
Warner and Khawaja are at the crease. Warner is on strike. Broad will open the attack
And the players stride out under gloomy skies. Warner and Khawaja out to open. Broad gets the new ball with three slips and gully.
So 5 changes for England: Burns for Hameed | Pope for Bairstow | Billings for Buttler | Woakes for Anderson and Robinson for Leach. While Hameed has been dropped, both Buttler and Bairstow are out injured and England have rotated Woakes for Anderson and recalled Robinson for the pink-ball Test in place of a spinner. No Anderson means we might well have seen the last of the great man on these shores.
Pat Cummins: We were probably going to have a bowl with the weather around, but not too upset because you want to bat first in pink ball Tests. We had a lot of fun, day five got really tight. Really tough for Harris to miss out. He has grown in the last two years but when someone like Ussie (Khawaja) puts a performance like that, it's tough to go past it. It's been a great week. This ground has a lot of history and it's pretty good to be part of it.
Joe Root: We'll bowl. Overhead conditions, slightly tacky conditions. [On missing players] It has been frustrating and is something we had to battle with right through the pandemic. We have tried to manage it as best as we can and now have to take the opportunity to do well over these five days. It was very important that we got something from the last game. The way we played on the last day was brilliant and we can take something out of it here.
Australia (Playing XI): David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey(w), Pat Cummins(c), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland
England (Playing XI): Rory Burns, Zak Crawley, Dawid Malan, Joe Root(c), Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Sam Billings(w), Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Ollie Robinson, Stuart Broad
England have won the toss and have opted to field
Travis Head talking to 7Cricket: So good to be back. Excited and ready to play and finish off strong. It was tough to sit and watch for the first few days (in quarantine). I was back with the group on January 6. But definitely watching at the ground for 3 days was tough to see how close it got and to see how hard the boys hard worked. The selectors and the coach and Pat (Cummins) were great in letting me know early that once the quarantine is done, get to Sydney as quickly as possible. And then it was just a case me getting ready for the Test knowing I will be back in. I know there have been some tough decisions, but in my mind has been nice for the last 10 days. Usman (Khawaja) was fantastic. We spoke about it before the series. Both our Shield form was strong and I was fortunate enough to get the nod and we both knew we were in great touch. He didn't get a game, but he knows his game. Didn't matter if he had a month off, rolled in and did the same thing he was doing a month earlier. Very pleased for him to get another opportunity here, which I know he is very grateful for and hopefully he can make it a really good one. I will wait and see how the game presents itself. The beauty of the series for me has been how I have come relaxed and calm in my role. The batters above me have set a nice platform. Hopefully they do that again, gives me an opportunity to come out positive if that is what needed but also on the flip slide if I walk in like I did in Melbourne.. I felt like I started my innings well and was able to grind through some nice bowling. There will be times when both are needed, hopefully I can do that.
14:40 Local Time, 03:40 GMT: Toss at 15:00, game to begin at 15:30.
This game was originally scheduled for Perth but had to be moved out because of Covid restrictions in Western Australia. Unfortunately Perth has lost out on hosting Test matches of late because of restrictions and last time it hosted a Test was in December, 2019. But the shifting to Hobart meant, like never before, we now have two pink ball Tests in the same series. Isn't that exciting?
14:30 Local Time | 03:30 GMT: It is still not cricket-dry and looks quite dark in the background. Seems like toss will take a while. But we all know the captain is going to field first because of so much green and overhead conditions. Will there be a bold call?
Australia will be delighted to see Scott Boland mark his run-up. There was rib-injury cloud around him but he has passed the fitness test. Sure they won't want to miss his services for the way he has been bowling since MCG. Usman Khawaja made himself undroppable with two brilliant hundreds on his return to the Test side in Sydney. This has meant Marcus Harris has to make way for him at the top with the returning of Travis Head at 5. So just one change for Australia. If Boland didn't pass the test, there was talk of Jhye Richardson coming in after his five-wicket haul in Adelaide, but Boland, just like Khawaja, has put in some undroppable stuff thus far.
Sam Billings will make his Test debut in place of the injured Jos Buttler. Ollie Pope comes in for the injured Jonny Bairstow, who scored England's first hundred of the tour at the SCG. While Zak Crawley put on a gun performance, partner Haseeb Hameed was found wanting and we could see Rory Burns return again. Ben Stokes has a side strain that will stop him from bowling but captain Root said "he is good enough to play as a batter." Oh sure yes. Nobody is doubting that and we saw how valuable he is with two match-saving 60s in Sydney. Do they go for an all-pace attack like Adelaide?
England earnt a lot of respect in Sydney with their fight. To hang on for a thrilling draw after a literally no-show in Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne was refreshing. They somehow found a way to get out of the slumber. Some strategical and forced changes are expected for this game.
Bharat Sundaresan confirms Ollie Pope is in the XI and he also predicts Craig Overton to slot in. Bairstow was hit again on the injured thumb in training yesterday. And now he pings the inevitable "heavy drizzle in the air."
13:45 local time | 02:45 GMT: Good afternoon! The Bellerive Oval is making its Ashes debut and it's rolled out probably the greenest surface ever produced for a Test match in Australia. As soon as the covers came off, the pitch grabbed eyeballs because its the kind you see in New Zealand and you wonder if it tempted England to rethink of that thought to rest James Anderson. And yes, it is gloomy out there and we are expected to have some rain interruptions through the course of the day.