England and Wales Cricket Board on Wednesday announced the team for the first Test at Gabba which starts from Thursday. The squad was uploaded on its website just a few hours after England captain Joe Root had declined to name the players at a press conference in Brisbane.
A surprise selection came in the form of 26-year old Nottinghamshire seamer Jake Ball, who overtook Craig Overton to book a spot. Ball, who will be employed as the fourth seam-bowler for the visitors, will play his fourth Test. Suffering from an ankle injury, he was kept on the sidelines in the final warm-up match in Townswill the past week and was replaced by Overton. The right-arm bowler will be joined in the bowling duties by pacers James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes.
Speaking on Ball’s selection, Root said, “It wasn’t an easy decision. Craig has come into the squad and everything asked of him he’s done really well.” The 26-year old further showed faith that the pacer will go on to challenge Australia’s strong batting line-up. “Jake has bowled well when he’s had his opportunity on the tour and the way he goes about things on these surfaces could be really challenging for the Australians,” he said.
In three Tests, Ball has taken 2 wickets at an average of 114. His record in ODIs is slightly better, with him taking 21 wickets in 16 matches at an average of 42.52.
Meanwhile, with doubts hanging over explosive opener David Warner, Australia have still not announced their side for the first Test. The left-arm batsman suffered a neck sprain during a fielding session at Gabba on Tuesday, but was later fit enough to come for the training session in the nets. Aussies skipper Steve Smith, at a news conference, appeared confident that the batsman will make it to the team.
“Davey’s going well, he just had a hit just before, he is very confident _ he says he’ll be right to go. He’s improved a fair bit over the last 24 hours and hopefully he can keep improving and be 100 percent,” he said.
In another injury scare for the home side, returning batsman Shaun Marsh has reported back soreness after a training session. The left-hand batsman will continue to receive treatment overnight, a day before the match. All-rounder Glenn Maxwell was called on by selectors to Brisbane as a batting cover, who may replace Marsh, in case he is unfit to play on Thursday.
England First Test Team: Joe Root (captain), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Dawid Malan, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes.