Australia recall Hazlewood as England bat in Ashes opener - GulfToday

Australia recall Hazlewood as England bat in Ashes opener

Hazlewood, centre, celebrates with team mates after taking the wicket of England's Ben Duckett. AP

Australia recalled Josh Hazlewood and dropped fellow paceman Mitchell Starc from their XI as England captain Ben Stokes opted to bat in the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston on Friday.

Starc played in Australia's 209-run World Test Championship final win over India at The Oval last week, a match Hazlewood missed with side and Achilles injuries.

But even though left-arm express quick Starc offers a real point of difference in an otherwise right-arm pace attack, the experienced Hazlewood -- with 222 wickets in 59 Tests -- has been restored to a team facing a packed schedule of six Tests in seven weeks.

"We need to rotate our bowlers," said Australia captain Pat Cummins at the toss. "It was a really tough call on Mitch, but it's a nice problem to have with someone like Josh to come in."

Australia's side alo features the top three in the world Test batting rankings -- Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith and Travis Head.
A straw-coloured pitch allied to sunny skies encouraged Stokes to bat for the first time after winning the toss in a Test match in England.

"It looks a really good wicket," said Stokes, who has presided over 11 wins in 13 Tests since joining forces with coach Brendon McCullum last year. "It's a good toss to win but we've got to get some runs on the board now and make the most of it."

England had already named their side on Wednesday, with Stuart Broad getting the nod over paceman Mark Wood after leading the attack in a 10-wicket win over Ireland at Lord's -- a match where James Anderson and Ollie Robinson were rested with niggling injuries.
Stokes had previously spoken of his desire to have a bowler with outright pace.

But Broad, with 582 Test wickets, was selected although his inclusion did leave England with three right-arm seamers of similar, 80 mph, pace.

Broad's inclusion meant the 36-year-old would once again be confronting Australia opener David Warner.

The combative Australian floundered badly against Broad in 2019, when the Englishman dismissed him seven times in 10 innings.

England have not won an Ashes series since 2015, while it is 22 years since Australia last triumphed in an Ashes campaign in England.

The corresponding Ashes clash at Edgbaston four years ago saw Smith mark his return to Test cricket after a ball-tampering ban with twin hundreds in Australia's dominant 251-run win.

But the 2019 series ended all square at 2-2.

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

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

Umpires: Marais Erasmus (RSA), Ahsan Raza (PAK)
TV umpire: Chris Gaffaney (NZL)
Match referee: Andy Pycroft (ZIM)

Agence-France Presse

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