England name playing XI to take on Australia in Ashes opener


Jake Ball has won his battle with Craig Overton to take the fourth seamer’s place in England’s first Test line-up and try to fill the enormous shoes of Ben Stokes.

Ball, England’s best bowler in the early warm-up games here, was confirmed in what was an expected England line-up after fully recovering from the ankle injury in Adelaide that briefly threatened his tour.

He will play at the Gabba on Thursday to complete a bowling line-up led by Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes and is completed by Moeen Ali, who proved his fitness after a side strain in the final warm-up in Townsville.

It is thought Ball was given the nod as his style better suits conditions in Australia.

Overton was in line to make his Test debut here in Brisbane but the greater experience of Nottinghamshire bowler Ball coupled with England’s belief that he is well suited to Australian conditions has got him the nod.

Moeen is expected to be promoted to No 6 in the absence of Stokes in a surprise move by England considering he has had so little batting on tour but captain Joe Root would not confirm the order until the toss at the Gabba.

Overton (pictured) had been in line to start but Ball overcame an ankle injury in time.

If Moeen is at six, Jonny Bairstow will stay at the traditional keeper’s spot of No 7 where England believe he will be better shepherding the tail against the express pace of Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins at the Gabba.

While England named an expected team, Australia have problems ahead of the big day with both David Warner and Shaun March under an injury cloud and Glenn Maxwell called up as cover for both.

Warner is expected to recover from a stiff neck and told his captain he would play ‘even if he bats like Shiv Chanderpaul with an open stance’ but his problem is a worry for Australia as he is such a key figure.

And Marsh, a controversial selection for this Test, has added to their worries as he is now a doubt with a sore back.

England’s batting order is yet to be revealed but Moeen Ali could move up to No 6.