Can England break the Brisbane barrier? - First Ashes Test preview

Focus will be on the captains as the Ashes series is set to kick-off from Thursday
Focus will be on the captains as the Ashes series is set to kick-off from Thursday
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First Test - Australia v England, The Ashes
23 to 27th November, The Gabba, Brisbane

As the first of the much-awaited five-Test Ashes series kicks-off at The Gabba on Thursday, both Australia and England will look to seize early advantage.

England's newly appointed vice-captain James Anderson had earlier stated that the first game of the series will be key to their fortune and that proved to be the case in 2010/11 edition. England's last win in Brisbane came 31 years back but despite the dubious record, the visitors riding on massive knocks from Andrew Strauss (110), Alastair Cook (235no) and Jonathan Trott (135no) helped England make one of the best ever turn-around possible after conceding 221 first innings lead to Australia. That set the precedent for the remainder of the series with England going on to win three out of the remaining four games that too by an innings to complete a historic 3-1 victory. To get an insight on the betting for the Ashes visit 888sport as they have the odds listed for the first Test.

England will surely miss the services of their premier all-rounder Ben Stokes, who is awaiting an outcome from a police investigation following an incident in Bristol in September and the last time the Durham all-rounder visited the country in the 2013 series, he was one of brightest prospect as seen with his blistering 120 in Perth to go with his six-wicket haul in Sydney, but England had a torrid time throughout the series troubled by the pace of Mitchell Johnson.

Nevertheless, Trevor Bayliss and the selectors managed to plug out their batting woes with Mark Stoneman at the top and his scores of 85, 61, 51 and 111 in the four innings of the warm-up games will ease out the pressure on Cook while Dawid Malan has pretty much sealed his place with two fifties and a century. James Vince will occupy the number three slot taking over from Tom Westley and the return to fitness of Moeen Ali and Jake Ball will boost England's chances in an attack spearheaded by Anderson and Stuart Broad.

Australia too had their own picks of surprise selections for the game with uncapped Cameron Bancroft getting a nod over out of form Matt Renshaw while Shaun Marsh earns a recall following a decent outing with Western Australia side. Tim Paine is set to play his first Test in seven years - even though it is Matthew Wade, who has replaced him as the preferred wicket-keeper for the Tasmanian side - a move which Shane Warne described 'confused'.Though, head coach Darren Lehmann was quick to respond and urged the former players to get behind the team on what will be a massive series.

However, their pace bowling will be their strength with Mitchell Starc coming at the back of a double hat-trick in the Sheffield Shield encounter while Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins are set to bolster the attack further with Nathan Lyon taking the spin bowling responsibility.

The Conditions:

The Gabba curator Kevin Mitchell hinted the pitch is expected to have more green tinge than the usual standard with a bit of rain last week. Unless unexpected weather intervenes, the master curator reckons the game is likely to last all five days with something for everyone.

Probable line-up:

Australia: 1. David Warner (vc), 2. Cameron Bancroft, 3. Usman Khawaja, 4. Steven Smith (captain), 5. Shaun Marsh, 6. Peter Handscomb, 7. Tim Paine (wk), 8. Mitchell Starc, 9. Pat Cummins, 10. Josh Hazlewood, 11. Nathan Lyon

England: 1. Alastair Cook, 2. Mark Stoneman, 3. James Vince, 4. Joe Root (captain), 5. Dawid Malan, 6. Jonny Bairstow (wk), 7. Moeen Ali, 8. Chris Woakes, 9. Stuart Broad, 10. Jake Ball, 11. James Anderson

Quotes:

"I've heard a lot of chat about me but we'll be targeting every one of them so bring it on. I don't really know what targeting the captain is. You go into every series as a batter expecting to be targeted," England skipper Joe Root.

"The Ashes is a fierce environment, and it’s a very difficult place to find form when you haven’t got runs behind you in the past couple of weeks. But I know he will learn a lot from this experience and will come back a better player because of it," Australia captain Steven Smith is expecting Matt Renshaw to bounce back.

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