England win toss and bat first at the Gabba

England won the toss and chose to bat first against Australia
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Things have got a little heated between Australia and England after Nathan Lyon’s comments in the build-up to the first Test

Joe Root won the toss for England and chose to bat first, as the banter and the trash talk was finally put to one side, and the 2017-18 Ashes prepared to get underway at the Gabba.

Despite doubts about the fitness of David Warner and Shaun Marsh, both men were passed fit by Australia’s captain, Steve Smith, who admitted he would have batted too, but was happy to see a few threatening crowds lurking overhead to assist his team.

Astonishingly, for all the talk of Australia’s latest fire-breathing trio of fast bowlers, none of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood or Pat Cummins has ever played in a home Ashes Test – James Anderson, by contrast, has played in 13 Down Under.

And for Cummins, this match represents his first home Test appearance against any team – extraordinarily delayed gratification for a bowler who first took the world by storm against South Africa in 2011-12.

With a hint of drizzle in the air and a palpable humidity, it might conceivably have been a good toss for England to lose – there were certainly never any danger of Root pulling Nasser Hussain’s stunt of 15 years ago and putting the Aussies in for first use.

Instead, it will be Alastair Cook – England’s former captain and veteran of three previous Ashes tours – joining forces with Mark Stoneman, England’s form batsman of the tour so far, at the top of the order. Cook, of course, is back at the scene of arguably his finest hour, his unbeaten 235 in the first Test of the 2010-11 tour. Plenty happier memories to fall back on from that tour than three years ago.

For Australia, Cameron Bancroft was confirmed as Australia’s first Ashes debutant since Michael Slater in 1993, and was presented with his baggy green shortly before the toss by Geoff Marsh, a fellow Western Australia opener.

Ben Stokes, a huge absentee for England, popped up on Twitter with a good luck message for his team-mates.

Australia 1 Cameron Bancroft, 2 David Warner, 3 Usman Khawaja, 4 Steven Smith (capt), 5 Pete Handscomb, 6 Shaun Marsh, 7 Tim Paine (wk), 8 Mitchell Starc, 9 Pat Cummins, 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Josh Hazlewood England 1 Alastair Cook, 2 Mark Stoneman, 3 James Vince, 4 Joe Root (capt), 5 Dawid Malan, 6 Moeen Ali, 7 Jonny Bairstow (wk), 8 Chris Woakes, 9 Jake Ball, 10 Stuart Broad 11 James Anderson

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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