Australia wins toss, bats 1st in Ashes opener
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Australia captain Michael Clarke won the toss and elected to bat in the first Ashes test against England at the Gabba, an important first call in the series.
England is bidding for a fourth consecutive Ashes series win for the first time since the 1800s, having won the last two contests at home and on the previous tour to Australia in 2010-11.
Wicketkeeper and vice-captain Matt Prior overcame a calf muscle injury which sidelined him for last week’s tour match in Sydney to take his place in the England lineup.
Chris Tremlett got the job as England’s third seamer to support Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad.
South Africa-born Kevin Pietersen will be playing his 100th test match for England, while Brad Haddin is playing his 50th test for Australia.
George Bailey was making his debut for Australia and was likely to bat at No. 6. The Australians included offspinner Nathan Lyon in the starting XI at the expense of allrounder James Falkner.
The toss can be decisive at the Gabba, where the team batting first can set up the test match which a big total if it survives the opening couple of sessions that usually favor seam and swing.
The weather conditions were ideal for the opening day, with clear blue skies across Brisbane and temperatures tipped to hit 30 Celsius (86 Fahrenheit). There is rain and storms on the forecast from Friday.
The five-test series, starting only a few months after England’s 3-0 win at home, will move to Adelaide for the second test starting Dec. 5, then continue in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.
Australia: David Warner, Chris Rogers, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke (captain), Steve Smith, George Bailey, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris, Nathan Lyon.
England: Alastair Cook (captain), Michael Carberry, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Matt Prior, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, Chris Tremlett, Jimmy Anderson.
Umpires: Aleem Dar, Pakistan, and Kumar Dharmasena, Sri Lanka.
Third umpire: Marais Erasmus, South Africa. ICC match referee: Jeff Crowe, New Zealand.