Ben Stokes has named his England team for the first Ashes Test that will start at Edgbaston on Friday. He decided to go for experience and selected Stuart Broad over the pace of Mark Wood in his final selection decision.
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Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum decided on continuity in one of the berths during the announcement of their XI two days from the first test of the Ashes. Whether this sees Broad handed an instant reunion with David Warner, seven times in victim in the 2019 series – remains to be seen, however, with the 36-year-old operating at the first change since Anderson and Robinson became the preferred new-ball pairing last summer.
Ben Stokes striving to overcome a longstanding knee problem. That said, England do not tend to do trepidation these days and Stokes upped his bowling on Wednesday. He sent down around five overs in the nets with a fair amount of grunt.
Wood was arguably the only England player to emerge from the 4-0 hammering in Australia 18 months ago in the Ashes. The absence of his extra pace may yet prove a talking point on a pitch that looks hard. The Australian batters will surely like that. On Wednesday, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, and Travis Head occupied the top three spots in the ICC Test batting rankings.
The last time players from the same team occupied the top three positions was back in December 1984. Gordon Greenidge, Clive Lloyd, and Larry Gomes, all from West Indies were leading the way. This latest update follows Australia's 209-run victory over India in the World Test Championship final at the Oval.
It will surely be a challenge for an England side that is otherwise as expected and coming into the series on a run of 11 victories from their last 13 Test matches.
England XI (confirmed): Ben Duckett, Zak Crawley, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes (c), Jonny Bairstow (wk), Moeen Ali, Stuart Broad, Ollie Robinson, Jimmy Anderson.